Operation Christmas Child “Victory”????

Mikey Weinstein et al:
You guys are now claiming a “victory” for having officers retract an e-mail informing those who want to, to donate to Operation Christmas Child – for poor orphans around the world.  And this is a victory – to deny advertisement and access to this charitable program that brings smiles and love into the hearts of those who have been lost and abandoned by the world’s systems.  This is called a victory???
If there were soldiers who did not want to participate in Operation Christmas Child because of the Christian message to it – fine that’s their right.  But for those who want to participate in it, they shouldn’t be made to feel like they are going to be punished.  Its absurd.  I know you harp on separation of church and state when it comes to the military, but this government was founded on Judeo-Christian principles and that is a truth.  That should be in the back of everyone’s mind as Americans, and though we should not force Christianity on anyone in the armed forces or in the government, it should be allowed to exist there among the people who are Christian.
I wonder if your clients who complain about how helping orphaned children is offensive are really all atheists or Christianophobes or are they radical Muslims in sheep’s clothing who are using your organization as useful idiots to infiltrate their will on this nation.  So, is that how you and your organization want to be remembered – as those who blocked Operation Christmas Child and declared it a “victory” and who were used like puppets of radical Islam to bring about a cataclysmic change to our very way of life.  Because if jihadist Muslims do succeed with what they want – which is to take over the West including America, atheism won’t be legally free to exist jut the same as Judaism and Christianity.  You’ll be beheaded along with those who you are now trying to silence.  So, I would ask yourself that question, if you drive Christianity and the true and merciful God out of the American armed forces and government, what spiritual perspective will it be replaced with?  There’s always vacuums to fill – look at the Middle East after the Arab Spring uprisings.  What came to power in many of those countries?  
In conclusion, I pray – though I’m sure that is a word better left unspoken in your office – that your passion for so-called freedom from religion gets suddenly and miraculously turned around to press for the defense of Christians and the forwarding of goodwill missions like the Operation Christmas Child.  Have you ever heard of the conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus.  You can read about it in the book of Acts is you haven’t.  God took someone who so hated everything Christians stood for and turned him around to being one of the greatest advocates of the Christian cause.  So that is what I will be praying over you.
Seriously, do you really feel a great sense of self-worth for blocking people from participating in a program to give poverty-stricken orphans something special this year?  Do atheists put out any kind of benevolent programs that are comparable to spread love?  I don’t think so.  “You will know them by their fruit.” (Matthew 7:16)
I do pray for your and your team’s health and wellness and that you turn from your current ways and turn to doing what is right and honorable.
Thank you and God bless you and the others.
(name withheld)

Dear (name withheld),
Where in the world did you get the idea that we our soldier clients are all atheists or Christianophobes or are they radical Muslims in sheep’s clothing… puppets of radical Islam… jihadist Muslims? Or comparing Mikey, and by extension those of us who work with the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, to Saul of Tarsus?
Let me clear up some of the propaganda you have either read or heard.
We are neither an atheist organization nor are we anti-Christian. Mikey is Jewish (and prays to the same Father we do 3 times a day) and 80% of the Board, Advisory Board, volunteers and supporters (244 in total) of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) are Christians (Catholics, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Methodists, Lutherans, etc. In fact, 96% of our 42, 711 soldier clients are Christians (Catholics, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Methodists, Lutherans, Baptists, Evangelicals, etc.) We fight for the rights of Christians more than any other religion.
As an ordained minister, I take offense at your rant when you have absolutely no clue of who we are and what we stand for.
You have also maligned the following military personnel that we rely on for their expertise concerning religion in the military:
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).
Advisory Board Members (Past and present military personnel):
Edie Disler– PhD, Lt Col (Ret), is a 25 year veteran of the Air Force who served as an ICBM crewmember, an Executive Support Officer to the Secretary of Defense, a conventional arms control inspector, a speechwriter, and USAFA faculty professor.
Robert S. Dotson–Retired brigadier general.
Robert T. Herres– A Naval Academy graduate with a 36 year career in the United States Air Force, he also served a three-year assignment as Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the first to hold that position. (December 1, 1932 – July 24, 2008)
Kristen Leslie – An Assistant Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling at Yale Divinity School and consultant to the United States Air Force Academy on religious matters.
Eagle Man, Ed McGaa – Is an enrolled Oglala Sioux tribal member, OST 15287. After serving in Korea, he earned an undergraduate degree from St. Johns University, MN. He then later rejoined the Marine Corps to become a fighter pilot.
Rev. MeLinda Morton – An ordained minister of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). She is a former Chaplain in the United States Air Force, most recently serving at the United States Air Force Academy.
George Reed – A faculty member in the School of Leadership and Education Sciences at the University of San Diego. Before joining the faculty in 2007 he served for 27 years as a military police officer including six as the Director of Command and Leadership Studies at the U.S. Army War College.
AA “Tony” Verrengia  – A retired Air Force Brigadier General, He was a Master Navigator that served in air transport operations positions for many years.
John Whiteside – He is one of only a few military aviators to possess both Senior Command Air Force wings and aircraft carrier qualified Naval Aviator wings, in addition to having been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism in combat during Operation Desert Storm.
Lawrence Wilkerson – Distinguished Visiting Professor of Government and Public Policy at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, VA. His last position in government was as Secretary of State Colin Powell’s Chief of Staff (2002-05).
I’m sure they’ll be happy to know what you think.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) does NOT act on its own but at the request of our soldiers’ and their 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.
Our military is secular – which includes those of other faiths or no belief system – and it must not advance one religion over another according to the Constitution, Supreme Court rulings and the Unified Code of Military Justice. Religious activities must be in the hands of the Chaplains on Chapel grounds, not in the hands of the Commander on base-wide grounds.
As defenders of the Constitution we fight for the separation of church and state.
“…but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” (Article I, III)
 
This means that from the President to Congress to the military – no one’s job is based on their religion.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion (Establishment Clause), or prohibiting the free exercise thereof (Free Exercise Clause).”(First Amendment)
 
The Establishment Clause means that you cannot favor one religion over another even though it is in the majority. This clause respects the RIGHTS of all religions. Our military is SECULAR and there are people of other faiths that don the uniform that love this country.
The Free Exercise Clause means that our soldiers are free to exercise any religion they want or no religion at all but cannot elevate one God above others.
“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.
 
In 1878 “separation of church and state” became part of the Establishment Clause BY LAW.
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.
Government action violates the Establishment Clause unless it:
1. Has a significant secular (i.e., non-religious) purpose,
2. Does not have the primary effect of advancing or inhibiting religion,
3. Does not foster excessive entanglement between government and religion.
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
The Air Force has their own rules on religious neutrality and on September 1, 2011, then-Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, issued a memorandum for all USAF commanders that stated plainly:“Although commanders are responsible for these programs, they must refrain from appearing to officially endorse religion generally or any particular religion. Therefore, I expect chaplains, not commanders, to notify Airmen of Chaplain Corps programs.”
In Air Force Instruction 1-1, USAF top brass laid down the letter of the law in regards to religious proselytizing:“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)”
Though Christianity is in the majority, they cannot have preferential treatment. As former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor said “We don’t count heads when enforcing the First Amendment.”
And, yes, it is a VICTORY that the soldiers can pack the Christmas shoeboxes under the leadership of the Chaplains and the Commander or his secretary cannot email religious events to everyone on base.
As far as this government was founded on Judeo-Christian principles and that is a truth, he’s some truth for you:

Treaty of Tripoli:

As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen [Muslims],—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan [Mohammedan] nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

.The Constitution reflects our founder’s views of a secular government, protecting the freedom of any belief or unbelief. The historian, Robert Middlekauff, observed, “The idea that the Constitution expressed a moral view seems absurd. There were no genuine evangelicals in the Convention, and there were no heated declarations of Christian piety.”
“The Salem witchcraft was the rock on which the theocracy shattered”. George Lincoln Burr (1857 – 1938), Professor of History and Librarian at Cornell University
Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, then that of blindfolded fear.
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr, August 10, 1787
History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.
Thomas Jefferson: in letter to Alexander von Humboldt, December 6, 1813
The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.”
John Adams, “A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America” 1787-1788
If I could conceive that the general government might ever be so administered as to render the liberty of conscience insecure, I beg you will be persuaded, that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution.
George Washington, letter to the United Baptist Chamber of Virginia, May 1789
Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814

“The civil government functions with complete success by the total separation of the Church from the State.”
James Madison, 1819, Writings, 8:432, quoted from Gene Garman, “Essays In Addition to America’s Real Religion” 

Strongly guarded as is the separation between Religion and Government in the Constitution of the United States, the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies, may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history.
 James Madison; Monopolies, Perpetuities, Corporations, Ecclesiastical Endowments
 
“God has appointed two kinds of government in the world, which are distinct in their nature, and ought never to be confounded together; one of which is called civil, the other ecclesiastical government.”
Isaac Backus, An Appeal to the Public for Religious Liberty, 1773

During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.

What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; on many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty may have found an established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate it, needs them not.
James Madison 1785 Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments
Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting “Jesus Christ,” so that it would read “A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;” the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination. 
As Thomas Jefferson wrote in his Autobiography, in reference to the Virginia Act for Religious Freedom
“How undeniable the fact, that civil government is not founded on Christianity… It is the glory of the United States, that, after Christian tyranny had raged with savage fury for fifteen hundred years, its progress should be arrested in this land of liberty.”1820, “Short Essays on Government,” in The Writings of the Later Elder John Leland
 
“[I have] always regarded the practical distinction between Religion and Civil Government as essential to the purity of both and as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States.” 1811, James Madison, in a letter “To the Baptist Churches in Neal’s Creek and on Black Creek, North Carolina,”
Pastor Joan
MRFF Advisory Board Member

Dear (name withheld),

Forgive me, but this is rather tiresome. You seem to have a significant degree of intelligence, so it’s difficult to understand how you can be – or pretend to be – under so mistaken an impression that you can allow yourself to bleat out such grossly ignorant assertions. I’m afraid I am led by this contradiction to believe you are being intentionally deceitful.

You know, or if you don’t you should, that the only problem the MRFF has with the program in question is, or was, that it was being promoted by military officials and thus given the stamp of government authority. That has been rectified. And had the program been promoted out of the chaplaincy, as it should have been, and not foist on servicewomen and men regardless of their belief systems, there would have been no problem in the first place. That being the case, it seems your silly assertions that we are intent on depriving “poor orphans around the world” of access to charity that “brings smiles and love into” their hearts have an ulterior motive, one that likely has to do with furthering the falsehood that the MRFF is an atheistic or otherwise anti-Christian organization deeply involved with other “Christianophobes” and “radical Muslims” in waging what thinking people understand is a complete fiction: a war on Christianity.

I’m frankly sick of it. Your snide harangue is baseless and I suspect you’re fully aware of it. The political slant with which you infect your attempted scolding speaks for itself and further taints what is based on a vacuous yet self-important pretense about a higher belief system that, if you truly enjoyed the security in it you imply, would allow you to busy yourself with meaningful works instead of sending out junk like this.

Mike Farrell

(MRFF Board of Advisors)


 

Joan,
 
We will be praying now for the others you listed individually that you and they will see the light and start using your energies for Christ instead of against Him.  It is easy to see for anyone that we are approaching the end of this age – long ago prophecies and signs of the times we are living in are unfolding before our very eyes across the news.  Since most of you are Christian, I’m sure you know very well the parable of the three servants and the parable of the wise and foolish virgins.  What do you want Jesus finding you doing when He returns?  Will you be working for Him or against Him?  Will bringing up Constitutional law to justify what you are doing really work with Him?  Yes the founding of our nation was inspired and matched in many ways the Israelites claiming their Promised Land.  And consequently, many of the battles fought in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 went against all odds with our beleaguered military fighting against a far superior world power of the day.  But look how many miracles helped our soldiers in defeating the British – just one that comes to mind is Washington’s campaign across the Delaware.  In any event, the Constitution and other Founding documents were written by men – many of whom struggled later in their lives – Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, whom you quote – with what they had decided while founding the country.  As far as the separation of church and state, particularly church and military, they were probably inspired to not have what had happened in Europe for centuries, where a twisted and totally warped interpretation of Christianity led to church leaders raising armies and wars being fought between different doctrines of Christianity – which was all by design of the Enemy and not any part of that was true Christ endorsed.  In trying to avoid this, they may have erred on the side of separation rather than striking a balance between not having church controlled armies but spreading the good word of the true Christian message.
 
Ultimately, the battles of our founding fathers were fought in another time and season far different than the time and season we are currently in.  So really think hard – are you for Christ or against Christ in this season where the climactic battle is playing out between good and evil.  Or do you want Him to come and see that you’ve been busy nit picking laws and forcing the military to diminish access to the true Christ.  
 
We will continue to pray for you and your organization.  Who really cares if atheist soldiers are offended by Operation Christmas Child.  I mean really?  
 
Praying blessings,
(name withheld)

Dear (name withheld),
Don’t you worry about me because I am following the teachings of Jesus.
Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselvesRomans 13:1-2
I will be able to face Him and tell Him that I did obey the governing authorities and did not resist bringing judgment on myself.
The other I live by is:
And you shalllove the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment.And the second,likeit, isthis:You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these. Mark 12:30-31
It wasn’t just the atheist soldiers complaining. Our Christian soldiers know the laws, too.
Pastor Joan

Joan,
He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant–not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (2 Corinthians 3:6)
Everybody knows, no one was being forced to participate in Operation Christmas Child.
(name withheld)

Dear (name withheld),
The “letter” here means the Old Testament laws, not the words of Jesus. We are ministers of the NEW Covenant.
A covenant is a contract. In the Bible, an agreement between God and his people, in which God makes promises to his people and, usually, requires certain conduct from them.
It does not give any Christian the right to disregard the commandments of Jesus.
Paul is making a distinction between the Old Covenant written on stone and the New Covenant that is presented inside us by the Spirit. The old (the law) brought death, because no one could keep its directives, whereas the new brings life through the life-giving Spirit. The letter (the law) killed because no one was able to keep it. It made us guilty, while the New Covenant sets us free from the condemnation of the law. The law was fulfilled in the only person who could have fulfilled it, the God/man Jesus Christ. Now we have the spirit of God inside us all because of this new covenant that is superior to the old covenant.
No one was being forced to participate but the mass email broke a number of laws and regulations. If we were wrong to hold the base to them, the Commander wouldn’t have been so quick to disavow the email.
You can go on believing what you want in contradiction of the Commander’s statement.
We will continue to fight for the rights of all of our soldiers under the law.
I have work to do and must move on.
Pastor Joan

Good Day, (name withheld)-
Thanks for taking the time to write to the MRFF. Mikey Weinstein asked if I’d be interested in providing a response to your email, but I’ve been slow in getting it done. Meantime, you may have heard from some of my colleagues already, but I’d still like to add my thoughts.
I think it’s important to let you know that our mission is not driven by radical atheism, radical Islam, or ‘Christianophobia’. In fact, I’m a lifelong, committed, and active Christian myself (as well as a 1985 USAF Academy graduate and veteran Air Force officer), and the vast majority of both supporters and clients are people of faith.  What motivates us to join efforts with people of many faiths, as well as honorable people of no religious belief, is a firm conviction that all members of the United States Armed Forces are entitled to 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.
But my sense is that you may well dismiss, out of hand, my thoughts about our motivations and goals — and perhaps you will even dismiss me as a faux-Christian, although I am far from such.  So instead, our time here may be better spent looking specifically at the Dover AFB situation that prompted you to write.
You misunderstand the concern that the MRFF raised. It’s not about denying love and support to orphans.  MRFF is not opposed to helping orphans — many of us are parents ourselves and we have a special place in our hearts for all children. And here is a funny irony… when my kids were growing up, my family participated by preparing shoeboxes every year, and we all have fond memories of it.
So if our objection was not about helping orphans, then what was it about?
Simply stated, we believe (and the commander at Dover AFB also concluded, thankfully) that the manner in which Operation Christmas Child was promoted was inappropriate and contrary to governing regulations.  The fact of the matter is that the military has other appropriate means of communicating information about these sorts of programs, notably via the chaplaincy, and should not be doing so through official command channels.
That’s it.
No hatred of orphans. No desire to take candy out of the mouths of babes. Nobody with a ‘heart that is two sizes too small’. Just an expectation that the rules that govern sectarian religious promotion be equally applied in every case, including well-intended efforts on the part of my fellow Christians.. Despite the apparent belief on the part of many conservatives in this country, Christianity doesn’t get a pass when it comes to the law.
Thanks again for writing.
Peace,
Mike Challman
Christian, USAF veteran, MRFF supporter

 

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