re letter regarding General Olson

I know you’re getting a lot of  emails regarding your opinion on General Olson’s speech. Please be aware that there are people praying fervently for all of you. Everything you stand for is on the wrong side of God. According to His Word, God is laughing at you for your fight against Him, and that scares me.  Eternity apart from Him is a very real consequence of  your actions, and while it should frighten you, it also frighten me for the dangerous position you have put yourself in. Prayers for mercy, and the veil to be lifted are being petitioned for you. Blessings,

(name withheld)


 

Dear (name withheld),
Thank you for contacting the Military Religious Freedom Foundation with your concerns and doing so in a civilized manner.
 
The first thing I need to clear up to you is that we are neither anti-God nor anti-Christian. Mikey is Jewish and prays 3 times a day to the same Father we do. A full 75% or more of the Board, Advisory Board, volunteers and supporters with the MRFF are Christian. Out of our 41,000+ military clients (1 can represent 50 and 1 represents 100), 96% of them are Christians – Catholics, Episcopalians, Methodist, Lutherans, Baptists, Evangelicals, etc. If anything, we represent Christians more than any other religion but you won’t hear about it because that wouldn’t make Christians angry against us.
 
MRFF does not act on its own but at the request of a soldier or soldiers’ complaints of the blatant disregard and trampling of the Constitution and the Military Code of Justice; blurring the lines between the separation of church and state. Every complaint is vetted by Mikey who was a JAG lawyer at the Air Force Academy for 10 years; worked in the West Wing under Ronald Reagan; and held positions in private practice.
 
We also rely on our military supporters for their expertise in all matters concerning the military and religion. To name just a few that you may heard of:
Board Member – Major William E. Barker
Board Member – Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV
Advisory Board Member – Lawrence Wilkerson – Secretary of State Colin Powell’s Chief of Staff (2002-05).
The following link has a full list of those on the Advisory Board but does not list the 200 volunteers and supporters world-wide. We also have a liaison on almost every base in the world.
 
The issue is not that he spoke at the National Day of Prayer Task Force (which is not the original National Day of Prayer established in 1952) but that he did it in uniform – against the UCMJ, the Supreme Court law and case law.
 
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment (Establishment Clause) of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise (Free Exercise Clause) thereof . . . “(1st Amendment)
 
The Establishment Clause comes before the Free Exercise Clause for a reason; the Free Exercise Clause is subservient to the Establishment Clause – not the other way around as some Christians would like it to be. 
 
“Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person’s life, freedom of religion affects every individual. Religious institutions that use government power in support of themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths, or of no faith, undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of an established religion tends to make the clergy unresponsive to their own people, and leads to corruption within religion itself. Erecting the “wall of separation between church and state,” therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society.” Thomas Jefferson, to the Virginia Baptists (1808) ME 16:320. 
This is his second known use of the term “wall of separation,” here quoting his own use in the Danbury Baptist letter. 
This wording of the original was several times upheld by the Supreme Court as an accurate description of the Establishment Clause.
Jefferson’s concept of “separation of church and state” first became a part of Establishment Clause jurisprudence in Reynolds v. U.S., 98 U.S. 145 (1878). In that case, the court examined the history of religious liberty in the US, determining that while the constitution guarantees religious freedom, “The word ‘religion’ is not defined in the Constitution. We must go elsewhere, therefore, to ascertain its meaning and nowhere more appropriately, we think, than to the history of the times in the midst of which the provision was adopted.” The court found that the leaders in advocating and formulating the constitutional guarantee of religious liberty were James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. Quoting the “separation” paragraph from Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists, the court concluded that, “coming as this does from an acknowledged leader of the advocates of the measure, it may be accepted almost as an authoritative declaration of the scope and effect of the amendment thus secured.
 
The Supreme Court heard the Lemon v. Kurtzman case in 1971 and ruled in favor of the Establishment Clause.
 
Subsequent to this decision, the Supreme Court has applied a three-pronged test to determine whether government action comports with the Establishment Clause, known as the “Lemon Test.”
1.      Any law or policy must have been adopted with a neutral or non-religious purpose.
2.      The principle or primary effect of any law or policy must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion.
3.      The statute or policy must not result in an “excessive entanglement” of government with religion.
 
If any government entity’s actions fit into one of these three, then it is a violation of the Establishment Clause
Then there’s Parker v. Levy: 
 
“This Court has long recognized that the military is, by necessity, a specialized society separate from civilian society… While the members of the military are not excluded from the protection granted by the First Amendment, the different character of the military community and of the military mission requires a different application of those protections. … The fundamental necessity for obedience, and the consequent necessity for imposition of discipline, may render permissible within the military that which would be constitutionally impermissible outside it… Speech [to include religious speech] that is protected in the civil population may nonetheless undermine the effectiveness of response to command.  If it does, it is constitutionally unprotected.” (Emphasis added) Parker v. Levy, 417 U.S. 733, 1974
 
Our military consists of those of other beliefs and by giving his speech on Christianity in uniform – which gives the impression to the world that we have a Christian military – demeans the morale of those of other faiths. His speech is constitutionally unprotected.
 
Air Force Instruction 1-1, Section 2.12:
 
2.12. Balance of Free Exercise of Religion and Establishment Clause. Leaders
at all levels must balance constitutional protections for their own free exercise of
religion, including individual expressions of religious beliefs, and the constitutional
prohibition against governmental establishment of religion. They must ensure their
words and actions cannot reasonably be construed to be officially endorsing
or disapproving of, or extending preferential treatment for any faith, belief, or absence of belief. (emphasis added)
 
The violation of this – by speaking in uniform – is a potential FELONY under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
 
People in the civilian world aren’t arrested for committing adultery but they are in the military and face a court martial.
 
Civilian laws and military rules and regulations are different.
 
Because Major General Craig S. Olson showed up in uniform to give his speech, he is also providing an unlawful endorsement and selective benefit to a non-Federal entity
(the NDPTF, which is a private organization), in violation of both the Joint Ethics Regulation (DoD 5500.7-R) prohibition on endorsement of non-Federal entities and DoD Instruction 5410.19, which prohibits the providing of a selective benefit or preferential treatment to any private organization. 
 
These new laws take the place of the laws of the past.
 
The Bible says:
“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” (Romans 13:1-2)
I do not want to “incur judgment” by not obeying the laws set worth by our governing authorities. That is why I support the Mission Statement of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.
I wish the media would tell the whole story and include the regulations behind it instead of being deceptive. By omitting pertinent facts they have managed to incite hatred and death threats towards us.
We are the only organization that holds the military to the laws set down by the Constitution, UCMJ and Supreme Court findings.
I hope this clears up any misconceptions on why Major General Craig S. Olson overstepped the bounds of current law affecting the military and in doing so making his behavior a felony and a possible court-martial.
Blessings in return,
Pastor Joan
MRFF Advisory Board Member

Good Evening, (name withheld) –
Thanks for writing to the MRFF, and for doing so in such a cordial manner.  You’d be surprised, and likely saddened, by some of the awful emails that we receive from people who claim to be Christian, but who for some reason feel free to say awful, profane things. I’m glad that you are not that sort.
You may also be surprised to learn that, despite what you may have heard, we are not anti-God.  In fact, many of us are people of faith — I’m a lifelong Christian myself, as well as a USAF Academy graduate (’85) and USAF veteran. So we do not oppose religion.  In fact, we don’t oppose General Olson’s right to his religious beliefs, nor do we oppose his right to express those beliefs in an appropriate time, place, and manner.  Our focus is always on the appropriateness of conduct, never on specific beliefs.
The root of the issue with General Olson’s participation in the NDF Task Force event is that he did it in an inappropriate manner, one which I believe is a pretty obvious violation of Air Force Instruction 1-1, Section 2.12 which governs the actions of all USAF leaders in this area.  It may help to read the specific guidance in that AFI:
——————–
2.12. Balance of Free Exercise of Religion and Establishment Clause. Leaders at all levels must balance constitutional protections for their own free exercise of religion, including individual expressions of religious beliefs, and the constitutional prohibition against governmental establishment of religion. They must ensure their words and actions cannot reasonably be construed to be officially endorsing or disapproving of, or extending preferential treatment for any faith, belief, or absence of belief.
——————–
Please take a moment to read the last sentence of that paragraph closely, then consider how General Olson’s appearance at this event, in full uniform, without even a single mention that he was there in a personal, and not official, capacity, could reasonably be construed as an official endorsement.  Had he appeared in a suit, and had made a simple effort to acknowledge that he was speaking in a private capacity, then I doubt that any of this hubbub would have ensued.
So again, thanks for writing and thanks for your prayers. I will pray for you, as well… but don’t fret too much about our relationship with God.  I trust that He knows well that we are not opposing Him, but rather are supporting the Constitutional rights of all military members of all beliefs (including non-belief).
Peace,
Mike Challman
Christian, USAF veteran, MRFF supporter

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1 Comment

  1. Juan

    As a citizen of his great nation who once served God, which was founded by God fearing men I write to you.
    I came from a Cuban background, a country that most people are familiar with, the lack of freedoms, the inability to practice these freedoms and the constant oppression imposed by the government to its citizens were part of my childhood.
    I thank God each day for being now a citizen of this nation and as a young man I worry seeing the great danger ahead of losing the freedoms we have enjoyed for so long. Freedoms that makes America stand among the nations. As a young Christian I fear for fhe future and how groups like the one you represent are trying to fake away God from everything that this country stands for.
    The constant fight against God has increased as the years passed, groups defending genie rights feel treatened by what God says through His word and people. These groups like the one you represent who continuously persecute the freedoms of religion, a freedom not given by men but by God,no man should depend on government or a man to enjoy their rights or freedoms and just like these groups. (Gay and lesbian rights groups and so on) who one to be respected for their descisions,inclinations and point of of views, who want to enjoy the same freedoms we earnestly protect are on a mission to destroy God, so ask these groups and your group, those peoples interest that you represent, who threatens a man with such a prestigious career that has served this nation and who loves God, someone who did not commit a crime, who pays his taxes, does not steal, has not commit murder, has stayed truth to his service and calling being responsible in his duties, a family man that happens to believe in Jesus and only spoke freely without imposing his beliefs. Why are you treating him like a criminal? Why if you want your freedoms to be respcted you don’t respect the freedoms of I others? We Christians do not impose to serve God nor we judge others who don’t or live a certain way yet many continue to try to sees us differently and in the case of Mr. Olson as a criminal.

    Please know that as a 27 year old and citizen of this nation who has a voice, who suffered dictatorship in his childhood,a God fearing young man who despite not being born here loves this Country like a mother loves the child she carried in her womb. I will fight for this nation with sweat and blood but I will fight more for my freedoms and the freedoms of others with everything I have no matter what it costs becaue the future of my country is more important that my own interests. We truly need men, leaders, a generation of men who won’t back down, men with passion, with vision.

    God bless The United States of America.

    Juan M Gonzalez

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