Better Things

With all the problems going on today you would hope a person would focus on something better than attacking our military.  Why don’t you stop searching for inconsequential ills and actually try to help people.
I think you are all scum.
(name withheld)

Dear (name withheld),
I see the media and religious organizations were able to convince you about the lies, omissions and distortions concerning the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) to the point that you had to fire off this missive.
It may be inconsequential to you but it is not to our soldiers, the Constitution and 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 43,021 soldier clients are Christians. 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. Religious activities must be in the hands of the Chaplains on Chapel grounds, not in the hands of the Commander on base-wide grounds.
I am for freedom of religion and against all maneuvers to bring about ascendancy of one sect over another. Thomas Jefferson Letter to Elbridge Gerry January 26, 1799
As defenders of the Constitution we agree with Thomas Jefferson and 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 (which is subservient to the Establishment 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, or
3. Does not foster excessive entanglement between government and religion.
Anything concerning religion that is used base-wide is a violation of the Establishment Clause.
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
Anything concerning religion in the military is a violation of Parker v. Levy.
When your email and my response is blasted out to our liaisons on almost every base in the world to be dispersed, the following  honorable and distinguished military personnel involved with MRFF will be happy to know you consider them “scum.”
MRFF Board

Major William E. Barker

Board Member – Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV

MRFFAdvisory 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).

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

Pastor Joan

MRFF Advisory Board Member



you just proved my point…

(name withheld)

Dear (name withheld),
You are entitled to your own opinion but you are not entitled to your own facts. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan
You have no facts and laws to back up your opinion, whereas we do.
No one here cares about what you have to say.
Joan Slish

Hi (name withheld),

Glad to hear from you, except for the scum part, of course. But I can overlook a stupid comment once in a while in order to have a meaningful conversation – assuming you’re capable of that.

We agree that there are many “problems going on today,” though it remains to be seen if we can agree on what they are. But apparently you fail to appreciate that what we’re doing is not “attacking our military,” it is making sure those in the military responsible for making decisions do so thoughtfully, reasonably and in keeping with our laws and regulations. I can’t imagine you’d be opposed to that.

In our view, there’s nothing “inconsequential” about violating the law and military regulations, just as there is nothing right about being stupidly insensitive and provocative in the way military units present themselves.

So what, exactly, is your complaint?

Mike Farrell

(MRFF Board of Advisors)







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1 Comment

  1. Connie

    How do we reach a group of people who believe they have the right to dehumanize anyone who doesn’t match them exactly? I’m at a loss as my interaction with such a person here in the comments at MRFF has not been productive.

    Theocrats do not understand sharing or the value of celebrating diversity. I guess I have to let go my expectations of fair treatment in the country of my birth. I will continue to fight the good fight but my heart is heavy with the knowlegde that they do not want to share with the likes of me.

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