Religious Freedom

Your treading in deep water when you thumb your nose at Jesus Christ and God the Father. Your an anti-Christ and I pray you’ll repent.

(name withheld)


 

Good Morning, (name withheld) –

Thanks for writing to the MRFF.  I’m a lifelong, active and committed Christian, USAF Academy graduate (’85), veteran USAF officer, as well as an staunch MRFF supporter.
As a Christian myself, I can appreciate your concern for anyone who would “thumb your nose and Jesus Christ and God the Father”…. but with respect, that ain’t us.  In fact, the majority of MRFF supporters and clients are people of faith, mostly Christians.
We do what we do not to oppose God, but rather to support the Constitutional rights of all members of the US military.  Specifically, our efforts are dedicated to ensuring that all members of the United States Armed Forces fully receive the Constitutional guarantees of religious freedom to which they and all Americans are entitled by virtue of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
The reality of the United States is that we are a pluralistic and diverse society, comprised of many different beliefs (including non-belief).  The ranks of our military reflect that plurality, and every one of those brave soldiers, sailors and airmen is entitled to live and work in an environment where every manner of belief is equally respected.  So when someone like Maj Gen Olson does something that conflates his personal beliefs and his professional role, it needs to be recognized as a mis-step.
I know that it can be hard for some Christians to separate the notion of respecting the civil liberties of those with different beliefs from a feeling that doing so waters down their own Christianity.  Personally, I believe that it’s entirely possible to walk closely with God myself, and at the same time respect the rights of others who don’t agree with me.
Thanks again for writing.
Peace,
Mike Challman
Christian, USAF veteran, MRFF supporter

That’s ridiculous. If his crediting God for his accomplishments is offensive to someone that is a Muslim or whatever, too bad. We have freedom of speech. Remember?  I can’t believe you would want to punish him as severely as possible. What’s wrong with your mind and heart?  That’s not being a Christian. What will you say to God about your actions?
(name withheld)

Dear (name withheld),
You miss my point entirely.

First, neither I nor anyone else at MRFF is “offended” that Olson credits God. In fact, the specific nature of his beliefs has nothing to do with the concern that we’ve raised.
Second, members of the military do not have unfettered freedom of speech — that is just part of the nature of military service. So if you’re applying a standard that would be appropriate for your civilian, you are incorrect.  There are a substantial number of things that military members cannot freely express, and there are a substantial number of things that a military member cannot do while in uniform.  The religious expression issues are the heart of this matter are just one way among many that the rights of military members are more restricted than those of their military counterparts.
Third, I don’t believe there is anything “wrong with my mind and heart” — but if that is what you must believe in order to dismiss what I say, then go for it.  I know that my actions, and the motivations behind them, are entirely Christian. While God may have plenty of criticism about me when I stand before Him in judgement, this issue won’t be one of them.
Peace,
Mike

I hope whoever is the judge of your request gives  HIM protection from you. We have lived in America for many years and I’m sure our Founding Fathers would say your wrong.
(name withheld)

Dear (name withheld),
Thanks for your closing thoughts.  My family has also lived in America for generations, although I’m not sure why either of our respective American legacies has anything to do with anything. Certainly it has nothing to do with the principles on which this country was founded.

I’ve also served proudly and honorably in the US military, which included swearing a solemn oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. Even now, as a civilian, I retain that commitment and will continue to do whatever I can to support and defend the constitutional rights of all US military members.

Peace,
Mike

Mike,
Our duty as
Christians, I believe, is to follow Jesus Christ.  If we really are Christians, then we follow His teaching. We are compassionate, merciful and forgiving.
We especially don’t want to punish someone for loving Him.
(name withheld)

Hello, (name withheld) –

With respect, I would suggest that one of  Maj Gen Olson’s duties, as a Christian and a leader, is to support the rights of the men and women under his command.  That includes honoring the rules that are in place to guard those rights.

When I was in the AF, I practiced my faith daily. I did so in how I treated others, in striving to be a servant leader, and in making an honest effort each day to imbue my thoughts, words, actions, and attitude with the tenets of my faith. But I also understood that as a leader in the US military, I had an obligation to govern my speech in a number of areas, one of which is religion.
If you are willing, I’d like for you to answer a question —
Suppose that Maj Gen Olson were a Muslim and spoke, in uniform, at a gathering of American Muslims to share how Allah has guided his career. Further, suppose he closed his remarks by asking that everyone would pray with him that the DOD and all troops would come to “rely on Allah.”
Or suppose he was an atheist, and spoke at a gathering of American atheists about how he had succeeded without any help from some imaginary friend in the sky. Further, suppose he closed his remarks by expressing a hope that the DOD and all troops would come to cease their reliance upon religion.
Would you defend his rights as fervently in each of those scenarios?
I’d very much like to hear your thoughts on this.
Peace,
Mike

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