Prayer in the Military

Mr. Winstein, 
While I agree with you that people should have religious freedom, that freedom must include Christians.  Christians should also be able to pray openly in public if they would like.  The main issue here is that this country was founded by Christians on Christian principles.  I have no problem with other people practicing religions that fit into the founding principles of this country, but I do not want people from other religions coming to our country and trying to change the fabric of our beliefs.  I do not want to live under Shiria law nor do I think it fits in with our founding fathers ideas for one nation under God.  Do you?  Have we not all seen the destruction from these types of radical religions in the Middle East?  But, yet you have a problem with football players being made to feel like they have to participate in a prayer?   I shudder to think what will happen to this country when God and Jesus Christ are removed from the very core of our beliefs.  I don’t want to live in a country without Christians or where Christians are perscecuted as they are being all over the world right now.  Show me one group being singled out in America and being persecuted for their religoius beliefs.  
I wanted to respectfully share my opposing views with you so that maybe you might understand where  I believe Christians are coming from in this nation right now.  There is not another country where true freedom exists for Christianity to be practiced without recourse right now.   
However, your Buddists, Jews, Muslims, etc. are able to practice their religious beliefs in America since true Christianity teaches acceptance, equity, and love.  
No religion is perfect, but as a nation we were founded on Christian principles and I believe that given all the other options, the majority of Americans would choose Christianity over the other faiths.
(name withheld)

Dear (name withheld),
Thank you for being respectful when the majority of the emails we receive are full of the most disgusting swearing imaginable and death threats that are spelled out in gory detail – from Christians.
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. In fact, 96% of our 43,300+ soldier clients (1 can represent many) are Christians – Catholics, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodist, Lutherans, Baptists, etc. We fight for the rights of these Christians more than any other religion but it never makes the news.
Mikey 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
The main issue here is that this country was NOT founded on Christian principles.
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 yearssince 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 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 majorityin 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
According to our Founding Fathers the Constitution is not based on Christianity or biblical law.
“One nation under God” was added to the pledge in 1954.
The Constitution and subsequent Supreme Court rulings uphold the separation of church and state and prohibits any government entity – which includes our military – from supporting or advancing any religion.
AFI (Air Force Instruction) 1-1 Section 2.12 reads in part:
“…leaders at all levels in the Air Force must ensure that 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.”
“Leaders at all levels” include the football coaches.
By allowing public prayer by the football players in Air Force uniform, command is officially endorsing one religion – Christianity.
 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 [in any form] 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 football players’ right to public prayer is constitutionally unprotected.
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 (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
3. Does not foster excessive entanglement between government and religion
Prayer on the field fits into all 3 and therefore it is a violation of the Lemon Test under the Establishment Clause. Plus it violates AFI 1-1 and Parker v. Levy.
“However, your Buddists, Jews, Muslims, etc. are able to practice their religious beliefs in America since true Christianity teaches acceptance, equity, and love.”
No, they are able to practice their religious beliefs because the Constitution demands it.
“Show me one group being singled out in America and being persecuted for their religoius beliefs.”
How about these:
The majority of Americans are Christians and the Constitution protects the minority from the majority.
“I am for freedom of religion, and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another.”
Thomas Jefferson – Letter to Elbridge Gerry January 26, 1799
Read these articles to get the full scope of what is truly going on:
Read our mission statement and see that we are for prayer consistent with time, place and manner under the laws and regulations set forth above.
Check out the honorable and distinguished military personnel and people from all walks of life that support the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.
For any religious leader to state that we are trying to take prayer from civilians is ludicrous. If that were the case, there would be a mass exodus from the MRFF.
I hope I cleared up any misconceptions about our stance concerning religious neutrality in the military – based on our laws.
Pastor Joan
MRFF Advisory Board Member

Pastor Joan,

This was missing from the article I read “especially considering the players are considered on duty for the military while in their football uniforms, and all home games are required formations for cadets”.  As I said I do not believe any one should be made to participate in any religion or religious practice.  I appreciate your comments and I will take a look at what you have presented here.  I do not agree with people harassing Muslims, etc. and was unaware this particular situation was taking place.  On the other hand, I am deeply concerned for our security due to the relentless goals of the radical Muslim groups and our continued blind eye due to people not wanting to offend any one.

I think it is important to have these types of discussions, especially to hear and listen to one another’s views.  I would never swear at, threaten, etc. any one or their group for their views.  I may not agree or like their thoughts but I do feel everyone should be heard.  Thank you for the information which I will review.

Just an aside….I wish I had never engaged in a conversation with Mr. Weinstein, very disappointing!

(name withheld)


Dear (name withheld),

Thank you for your kind response.


The media and religious organizations are well aware of the make-up of our organization and the laws backing our stance – but they choose to ignore them. By doing this, Mikey has to travel with bodyguards because he receives hundreds of threatening emails and phone calls 24/7. This shouldn’t be happening.


I don’t know how Mikey stays sane in the daily barrage of the things he receives.


There are many of us that respond to the daily emails and they get blurred into one – sometimes missing the kind ones like yours and bringing over the emotions from previous emails into the latest one. It’s not done on purpose but because we get very few that is kind.


Radicalization of any religion is frightening.


We have many Muslims serving with honor and distinction in our military (some are clients whom are being harassed due to the fringe element of their religion.)


If you have any other questions, feel free to contact me.


Merry Christmas and many blessings in the coming New Year,


Pastor Joan


Thanks and Merry Christmas to you as well!  😊

(name withheld)






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1 Comment

  1. Mark Sebree

    Don’t you wish that all letter to the MRFF were this well written and respectful?

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