Sign on Marine Base in Hawaii

Really?  You’re whining about a sign that says “God Bless the Military”?  Don’t you have anything better to do?
You should be on your knees thanking God every day that you live in a country that allows you to be such pansies.  You need to learn what the Establishment clause really says.  It doesn’t allow you to be offended…just to make a name for yourself.
(name withheld)

Dear (name withheld),
No, we don’t have something better to do than protect the religious rights of all of our soldiers under the Constitution and subsequent Supreme Court rulings.
We are not 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. In fact, 96% of our 42, 711 soldier clients are Christians. So, we fight for the rights of Christians more than any other religion.
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.
Anything pertaining to religion in the military is supposed to be in the hands of the Chaplains on chapel grounds, not in the hands of the Commander of a base.
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.
Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971), was a case argued before the Supreme Court of the United States. The court ruled unanimously in an 8-0 decision and all government agencies must follow the Supreme Court ruling on religious neutrality called 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, and
3. Does not foster excessive entanglement between government and religion.
The sign violates all 3.
The military has its own rules on religion: Parker v. Levy (1974):
“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 putting up this sign– which gives the impression to the world that we have a Christian military – demeans the morale of those of other faiths or no faith. This sign – written speech – is “constitutionally unprotected.”
Here are a few of the military people involved with the MRFF who we thank for their service and rely on for their expertise on 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).
All we are asking is that the sign be placed on chapel grounds (where it belongs) under our laws, and if not, to remove it altogether. If they will not move or remove it, then other religions have the right to put up their signs next to it.
If the military would abide by the laws and the media would stop the lies, distortions and omissions concerning religion and the military, we wouldn’t be having this fight.
I hope this clears up the information you have heard or read.
Pastor Joan
MRFF Advisory Board Member

Pastor Joan,


Thank you for your email.  I appreciate it.


All you have cleared up is that your organization is more mis-guided than I originally thought…and I thought you were pretty bad.


What religious rights?  Everyone is free to practice whatever religion they choose.  The Government cannot ESTABLISH a national religion.  THAT is what the First Amendment means.  I’m surprised you and your supposed JAG lawyers don’t know that.  There is nothing that states a separation of Church and State.  Show me that clause.  Is that the Separation Clause of the 42nd Amendment?  The Good and Plenty Clause?  There is nothing in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights that states a separation of church and state.


This country was FOUNDED on the belief of divine intervention.  Declaration of Independence, that you live under, indicates we have rights endowed by our Creator.  You seek to enforce this right…against the very entity who gave it to you.  You are happy to live under that protection, but seek to limit anyone who speaks it.


You claim you act on requests of our soldiers.  I seriously doubt that claim.  Ours is a volunteer force.  If someone is truly offended…by a sign…he/she can quit the military…and I hope they do.  They are in no position to protect a country if they are offended…by a sign.


The oath of any office and enlistment ends with “So help me God”.  The Rifleman’s Creed…part of the Marine doctrine…states, “Before God, I swear…”.  God is in the very fabric of this country and the forces sworn to protect her.  It used to be people would come to this country to BECOME Americans, now, thanks to people like you, people are trying to change America to become something else.


I love how you end your email, “If the military would abide by the laws and the media would stop the lies, distortions and omissions concerning religion and the military, we wouldn’t be having this fight.”  You call it a fight.  You indicate the military needs to do something.  The media is lying.  You’re are a leftist organization who cannot survive on your own merits and seek only tear down everyone else.  You cannot, in good conscience, really state what the problem with the sign is.  Only that it’s an opportunity for you to pick a fight.  Like I said before, you are only trying to make a name for yourself.


Be an AMERICAN Joan.  There is nothing harmful about this sign.  You, Mikey, and your whole organization really need something to do.

(name withheld)


Dear (name withheld),

Our Founding Fathers were Deists.



“The belief that God has created the universe (thus the word Creator) but remains apart from it and permits his creation to administer itself through natural laws. Deism thus rejects the supernatural aspects of religion, such as belief in revelation in the Bible, and stresses the importance of ethical conduct.”


“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 Treaty of Tripoli was signed at Tripoli on November 4, 1796.It was submitted to the Senate by President John Adams, receiving ratification unanimously from the U.S. Senate on June 7, 1797, and signed by Adams, taking effect as the law of the land on June 10, 1797; a mere 8 years since our Constitution went into effect. If what was written was wrong in anyway, there would have been uproar. But, it passed unanimously and confirmed that America was not founded on Christianity.

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


“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

Joan Slish


Hi (name withheld),

You’re a long way from Hawaii. You might want to hear what an actual Marine officer who serves in that area thinks. Once you’ve read that and thought about it a little, maybe you’ll think again about who the ignoramuses are.

I am writing because I have seen the news regarding the Military Religious Freedom foundation contacting the Marine Corps Base Hawaii Commanding Officer regarding the removal of the God Bless the Military sign.

I would like to add my support for the removal of the sign from the current location and it’s movement to either the chapel or off the base completely. I am a commissioned officer with XX years of service in the Marines and am currently stationed at MCBH XX. I drive by this sign every day, and do not think it is appropriate as it gives the impression that the military endorses one religion over another. I have not filed a formal complaint through my chain of command as I feel there would be repercussions, however if there is anything I can do to help in the effort to move the sign, please feel free to contact me.

Thank you,
(U.S. Marine Officer’s name, rank, MOS and unit withheld)


Mike Farrell

(MRFF Board of Advisors)





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1 Comment

  1. Luther E. Franklin, USNR-ret

    I am an ABSOLUTE Atheist, but I don’t see why that particular sign gets you so riled up. It makes a LOT of people feel Good (after all, most of our troops and citizens are Christians , or at least believe in “God”)!

    Go after those who try to convert us, or insist that their religious view is THE only path to the (non-existent) after life.
    By all means let the ignorant believe that there is an after life…it helps the VAST majority of people cope with deaths of relatives and friends.
    Geeze! Stay on the BIG STUFF !

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