Religious freedom

I just finished reading your mission statement and I’m a bit confused. You “claim” you support freedom and yet you aim to persecute any person who stands up for their faith. I have worn a military uniform for over 24 years. I was a Christian before I joined. I swore an oath to uphold the Constitution and all the freedoms that come with it. I swore that oath with the ending words “So Help me God”.
When I signed my enlistment papers it did not say that I give up my rights as an American. So what are you trying to accomplish? Are you saying that we are free to believe what we want to but can’t be who we are or talk about it in uniform?  Let me ask you this. Our founding Fathers, did they stop talking about God when they put on uniforms to fight for the very freedom you seek to destroy? The answer is no. They in fact embraced God and against overwhelming odds won your freedom. This Freedom did not come cheap. It was earned by the blood of God Fearing Patriots in uniform ( some not) Do you seek to take away my freedom because it may offend someone else? If so, then you have missed the point entirely. I have met many “atheists” in my time. And the big question is this. Are you a true Atheist? Let’s look at the word. It means one who does not believe in any deity. A true atheist would not care one way or another about a persons faith. I would argue that today’s “Atheists” are in fact anti-theists, seeking to punish or destroy anyone who has chosen to believe in God.  Therefore I can only conclude that you are not trying to preserve freedom but rather trying to destroy it for those who choose to Believe. I pity you . You have dedicated your life to hating something you do not understand. Perhaps you were hurt by someone claiming to be religious that did not know God for who He truly is. If that is the case I’m sorry you had to experience that pain.
I will make you this promise. I will continue to wear this uniform and defend the rights of every American, including my fellow believers in the armed forces, and I will pray for you. I pray that you will see what God has done for you through  His people who refused to bow to the evils of this world that you may have the opportunity to turn from your hate of those who do know Him.

(name withheld)


 

Dear (name withheld),

It saddens me as a Christian that the media, Christian websites and clergy still refer to Mikey as an atheist when they’ve been told that he isn’t for almost a decade. This is an outright lie to stir up fear and hatred toward Mikey and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF).

 

I also find it sad that people write their own opinions of Mikey without really knowing the man.

 

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.

https://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org/about/foundation-voices/

 

The majority of Christians abide by the Constitution, Supreme Court rulings and the Uniform Code of Military Justice, but there is a small sect of Christianity called Evangelical/Fundamental/Dominionists (not all Evangelicals are Dominionists but all Dominionists are Evangelicals – I am an Evangelical) that have managed over the past three decades to hijack our military. It is this sect we fight against.

 

US Army chaplain MAJ James Linzey, who, in a 1999 video, described mainstream Protestant churches (see above) “as demonic, dastardly creatures from the pit of hell “that should be “stomped out.”

 

This is the thinking of the military of today throughout the chain of command all the way to the Pentagon. They believe that the only “true” Christian is one that is “born-again” and has a “spiritual birthday.” All mainline Christians (see above) and those Christians born before 1952 when Bill Bright made up the 4 Spiritual Laws are destined to hell.

 

Just imagine being a mainstream Christian and told that “you are not the right kind” and destined to hell; that you are being verbally abused on a daily basis; that you are given poor performance ratings; that your advancements are being withheld – all in the name of religion.

 

You took your oath ending with the words “So help me God” but there are many Christians who do not want to say it because Jesus told them not to:

 

But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. (Matthew 5:34-37)

 

But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation. (James 5:12)

 

These Christians do not want to speak something that “cometh of evil” or to “fall into condemnation.”

 

Plus the atheists are allowed to “affirm” instead of saying those words even though it is not written into the oath. The military understands that no one is forced to say it under the Constitution:

 

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment (Establishment Clause) of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise (Free Exercise Clause) thereof . . . “(1st Amendment)

 

The “free exercise clause” is thrown around by some Christians in the military to bolster their ability to proselytize to anyone, any time, any place and they can’t be stopped. What they ignore is the Supreme Court ruling in 1974 which basically says – no you can’t.

 

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

 

“Constitutionally unprotected”; the law is the law and the military must obey it.

 

I hope this clears up some of your misconceptions on Mikey and the MRFF.

 

I’ve worked with Mikey for many years and I’ve never met a man more honorable, caring and loving as he is.

 

I’m proud to call him my friend.

 

Pastor Joan

MRFF Advisory Board Member


 

 

Dear (name withheld),

Mr. Weinstein has asked me to respond to this. (I probably would’ve without his asking, as I try to clear up misunderstanding as much as I can.) I don’t work for MRFF. Mr. Weinstein and I met when both of our fathers were stationed at Vandenberg AFB, over 45 years ago. My father was one of the chaplains at VAFB, and I am a life-long Christian. Mr. Weinstein and I developed a bond that has lasted through the years.

It is clear that you have bought several of the lies that have been circulated about Mr. Weinstein. There is no reason to be confused about the MRFF mission statement. THAT is the truth, not what you have heard from people who have never met him. I’ve “stood up” for my faith (You should see what I wrote in his yearbook.), and he has NEVER persecuted me, so your very first statement is incorrect.
Are you saying that a senior officer has the right as an American to force a subordinate to give up his/her right to religious freedom? …because that is what Mr. Weinstein is trying to accomplish–making sure that ALL service people have the right to religious freedom–NOT JUST senior officers! The Great Commission says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Christ didn’t say, “Use whatever techniques of harassment and coercion you want.” There are methods of teaching that do not involve intimidation. We are commanded to TEACH, NOT BULLY! While in uniform, you do not have the right to force a subordinate to worship in a manner he does not want, and THAT is what Mr. Weinstein is trying to accomplish. Keep in mind that the Holy Spirit does NOT need you (or any of us). A former pastor of mine said that the best way to witness is to be the “steady stream of water.” Witness by how you live your life, not by harassing people and driving them away. If you’re doing it right, you can witness and let everyone keep their Constitutional rights.
You asked Mike if he is a “true Atheist.” From what I know of him and what he’s said to me, I can say no, he’s not. If you believe he is, you are again believing the lies that have been circulated about him. He has told me he is an agnostic Jew, and he actually does not care about another person’s faith. Therefore, your conclusion is incorrect. He is not trying to destroy anyone’s freedom. He is trying to make sure that everyone is the military HAS all of their Constitutional freedoms. When you, as a superior officer, can force a subordinate to attend a Bible study, you are denying that subordinate his/her Constitutional rights. When you are not allowed to force anyone to attend a Bible study, how is that destroying your rights?
Mike does not need your pity. However, I, personally, appreciate the fact that you will continue to pray for him. He knows that he has been on my prayer list for years, and he is completely fine with that. Does that sound like someone who is trying to destroy anyone’s freedom? I also thank you for not being hateful and vulgar. Mike frequently forwards his hate mail to me, and I have been mortified and embarrassed that people who call themselves Christians say the horrible things that I’ve seen. I will add you to my prayer list that God will open your eyes to what Mike is really doing.
Sincerely,
Kathy xxxxxxx
Proud (but not TOO proud) Christian and Air Force brat!

Good Afternoon, (name withheld) –

Thanks for writing to the MRFF, and thanks for your service.  Mikey Weinstein has read your email and asked me to proffer a response.  In addition to being an MRFF supporter, I’m a lifelong Christian, a USAF Academy graduate (’85), and an Air Force veteran.  Like you, I was already a Christian before I entered the military, I also ended by oath with “so help me God”, and I remain an active and committed Christian to this day.
There are several points in your email that I’d like to address; I’ll do my best to keep this note to a reasonable length.
You are mistaken that we “aim to persecute any person who stands up for their faith”.  The only time we challenge the actions (not beliefs) of a military leader or a military organization (neither of which we “persecute”) is when those actions (not beliefs) are contrary to the US Constitution and governing military regulations regarding the appropriate time, place and manner to express a personal religious belief (including non-belief).  If you feel that we’ve challenged any such action inappropriately, I’d welcome the opportunity to discuss the specific instance with you.
It’s also important to note that the Constitution which both of us swore to support and defend was written by the same Founding Fathers whom you contend “embraced God.” To be sure, many of our founders were people of faith, just as many Americans today are people of faith.  But our founding generation was prescient in their crafting of a Constitution that allows every American the right to believe whatever each wishes to believe, including the right to non-belief.  Contrary to the insistence of some people today, America was not founded as a Christian nation — and I say that as a Christian myself without compromising my Christian credentials in any way — it’s a simple fact.
I found these comments of yours to be interesting —  “When I signed my enlistment papers it did not say that I give up my rights as an American. So what are you trying to accomplish? Are you saying that we are free to believe what we want to but can’t be who we are or talk about it in uniform?”  The short answer to your last question is a qualified yes — there are definitely times and situations when it can be inappropriate for a military member to express personal religious beliefs.  As you should well know after 24+ years in uniform, there are actually a number of things that military members cannot freely do or say, but which their civilian counterparts are quite free to do or say without restriction.  That is just the nature of military service.  So while no military member is asked to “give up my rights as an American”, every military member should recognize that there will be certain restrictions or limitations placed on his personal freedom.
One final comment on this aspect of your note — you would do well to consider that placing appropriate limitations on the expression of a personal religious belief is not at all the same thing as advocating atheism. I realize this is a subtly that seems to be lost on too many of our fellow Christians, but it’s the truth.
Beyond the items that I’ve just covered, there is a conceit that seems to permeate your entire email — namely, that individuals who believe in God should be afforded some sort of special recognition. To be very frank, your claim that the freedoms we enjoy today are due only to what you call “God Fearing Patriots” is a gross insult to the many brave men and women who have served, fought, and died who don’t happen to believe in the same God that you and I worship.  Their service is just as important, and their willingness to sacrifice just as noteworthy, as those of any “God Fearing Patriot”. While it’s great that you and I were able to swear “so help me God” in our own oaths of enlistment, other people have other motivations, and all should be able to serve equally and without pressure to conform to someone else’s religious beliefs.
So to reiterate as I close this note, you are mistaken — we are not a bunch of ignorant atheists who are offended by Christian beliefs. Are some MRFF supporters and clients atheists? Yup, and I find these individuals to be entirely honorable, trustworthy, and courageous people.  But there are also many (a majority, in fact) of MRFF supporters and clients who are people of faith. What brings all of us together is not a desire to “punish or destroy” anyone — rather, we are joined by a desire to see the US Constitution fully upheld for all American military members.  And that, my friend, is a noble and worthy cause.
Thanks again for writing.
Peace,

Mike Challman
Christian, USAF veteran, MRFF supporter

Dear  (name withheld),

You are unfortunately mistaken about a number of things and ill-informed about others.

You do admit to being confused, which I appreciate, but your confusion is self-imposed. Nothing in the MRFF mission statement advocates the persecution of anyone. And we don’t “claim” to support freedom of

religious or non-religious choice but in fact work very hard on behalf of just that for the women and men in uniform.

No one here is suggesting you give up your rights, however the law and the Constitution require that those in uniform, especially those in positions of authority over others, honor the separation of church and

state. That should be fairly easy to understand, I would think.

The MRFF has no agenda regarding promotion of a belief (or non-belief) system. Those are personal matters. But what we do work very hard to stop is the promotion of one particular faith or belief system by

those in positions of power or authority over those beneath them in rank or status.

People of all faiths and no faith make up the staff and supporters of the MRFF and there is no discrimination against anyone on the basis of her or his choice. You, as is the case with many others who become

defensive, seem to want to assume the organization or its founder or the rest of us are atheists, which is not so. In fact, over 95% of those associated with the MRFF are Christians of one denomination or

another, some of them ministers. But just as you might take offense if an officer or another in a position of authority chose, out of a deep-seated and impassioned belief in the rightness of his/her belief, to insist
atheism or scientology or a commitment to Islam on subordinates, we believe any promulgation of any religious belief system, even the dominant one in our country, is inappropriate and illegal. Today,

when we are dealing with dangerous zealots claiming to be committed to a fundamentalist religious view they want to impose on others, I would think the dangers inherent in such a position would be obvious.

So please read the mission statement again, perhaps a bit more slowly, and try not to come to it from a defensive point of view. No one here wants to take your faith away. We honor it.

Best,

Mike Farrell

(MRFF Board of Advisors)


 

 

Ok, you are now the fourth person from MRFF to contact me and tell me I am supposedly wrong about what you as an organization are doing. As I answered The other three, you are calling to have this General tried under the UCMJ for forcing military personnel to listen or somehow be preached to by this man. Did you actually watch the video or are you just angry because you saw a man in a position of authority in the military talking about his faith. The venue was by invitation and he spoke about how his faith helped him through his life. Your response makes you sound absolutely ridiculous. He did not in any way shape or form force any military member to listen to him. If you had payed any attention to the video you would have quickly realized that he was speaking ( by invitation) to an audience who were there to actually hear a positive Christian message. Yet you and mister W. Seem hell bent to persecute him for this. I have responded three times to emails from people from your organization. I have openly discussed the issue and you have not persuaded me in Any way that you have any interest in helping the men and women of the military with any freedoms. You say you support each member right to believe according to their own faith, yet anytime someone is bold enough to speak of their faith (especially Christian) and they have any seniority you fire with every weapon in your arsenal. Your record speaks for itself. You have NEVER prosecuted any other person from any faith group except Christians.
This is the final warning to you and all members of your organization. If I receive even one more email from any member I will count it as harassment.  Please pass the word throughout your organization that I have openly discuss my views and have heard your side. I agree to disagree.
Once again do not contact me again.  Mr. Weinstein since you are in receipt of this message as well I hold you personally responsible for any further contact.  Your organization is in my opinion is worse than the Freedom from Religion org.  That is my opinion, and my right to say so. Please respect my right and my wish to have no further contact with your organization.
Sincerely.
(name withheld)

…(name withheld) , let me very clear to you…….it was YOU, sir, who sent the originating e-mail to ME filled with recklessly false, ad hominem attacks and massive untruths about me, personally, and MRFF, organizationally…it was YOU, sir, who then blatantly libeled and defamed me and MRFF in your follow up responsive e-mails to our fine staff and volunteer supporters who took valuable time out of their busy schedules and reached out to you in an effort to try to counter your scurrilous, base and vile, ignorant assertions of reckless falsehoods about me and MRFF……….thus, I hardly find YOU, sir, to be the damn aggrieved party here!!….do you understand that???!!??….YOU, Stroup, are in NO position to deliver ultimatums to ANYone associated with MRFF!!……..that said, you can rest assured that no one else approved by me, that I know of, connected with MRFF will be sending any more communications to you in an attempt to kindly dissuade you from the continuation of your defamatory statements and ignorant screeds published over the internet about me and MRFF…you have now been warned that what you have written is recklessly false….…however, if we find that YOU are expressing or “publishing” (ask you lawyer what that means in the context of the tort of defamation) these same heinous untruths ANYwhere else, we will expeditiously move against you via justified litigation to aggressively secure and protect our reputations and all associated legal rights in robust defense of your recklessly false published attacks…I am copying Randy Mathis, lead MRFF Trial and Litigation Attorney above, in this direct and specific regard…ergo, YOU, Stroup, are directed to have NO further defamatory contact with me or MRFF in any forum, via third parties, and, assuming you comply, we will gladly have no further contact with you………good riddance….Mikey Weinstein, Founder and President, MRFF

Hi (name withheld),First, let me thank you for your service to our country. Your 24 year service is exemplary.

Your perception of History is more than a bit tainted by your overtly crediting those of  religion with such importance to the military mission.

As a former air Force Officer and pilot, having served two combat tours of duty in Vietnam I feel qualified to make an opinion on your assignment of  such importance.

The MRFF’s primary goal is to prevent those of rank or position  from  overly influencing subordinates in the area of religion. As has been seen before such influence can be coercive and create discontent in the ranks.

This is not meant to stifle religious belief or activity  but to provide an avenue or relief if required. Except for

scheduled, authorized religious services conducted by authorized Chaplain personnel no religious proselytizing is allowed by regulation.

Many of our outstanding military members such as Gen. Patton, and others have been religious but with few exceptions used their authority to keep religion within regulation.

It must be remembered that there are many religions practiced in the Armed Forces  and even an off hand remark about religion can be extremely offensive. Again, thank you for so well serving America.

Rick Baker
Capt. USAF (MedRet)
MRFF Volunteer.

Share this page:

Commenter Account Access

  • Register for a commenter account
    (Not required to post comments, but will save you time if you're a regular commenter)
  • Log in using your existing account
  • Click here to edit your profile and change your password
  • All comments are subject to our Terms of Use

No Comments

Start the ball rolling by posting a comment on this article!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*