A spokesperson for a group of 40 service members and military contractors (32 being either Protestant or Catholic) at a U.S. Military research facility contacted MRFF with a complaint that a ceremony with required attendance included a speaker who invoked religious references to prayer and worship that clearly applied to certain religious groups and not all in attendance. The spokesperson stated that he contacted MRFF on behalf of himself and others “after being given the impression that I must conform to a narrow range of religious beliefs (or any belief at all, as I am non-religious) in order to be considered patriotic”.
MRFF President and Founder, Mikey Weinstein, immediately contacted the commanding officer of the facility on behalf of these MRFF clients to resolve this situation. In response, the commanding officer of the research facility issued the following statement to those under his command:
Last week during the … ceremony, I witnessed an example of exclusion instead of inclusion that was inappropriate, in my view. During the invocation, the speaker invoked religious references to prayer and worship that clearly applied to certain religious groups and not all in attendance. I was uncomfortable with the choice of words as were many others. That is not appropriate for official military ceremonies. There is a place for invocations by chaplains in military ceremonies. Those secular or non-denominational invocations must be meaningful for all in attendance and must not make attendees uncomfortable and unable to enjoy the important event. Exclusionary religious invocations are not appropriate at … official events ….