Praying

Even if you don’t believe in God, it shouldn’t bother you at all if someone else prays! What does it do to intimidate you? You want everyone to respect your views, but you have no respect for anyone else’s views. That is intolerance and bullish!

(name withheld)


 

Dear (name withheld),
Where did you get the idea that Mikey doesn’t believe in God?
 
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 43,021 soldier clients 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.
 
US Army chaplain MAJ James Linzey, who, in a 1999 video, described mainstream Protestant churches as “demonic, dastardly creatures from the pit of hell “that should be “stomped out.”
 
How would you like it if you were a part of one of the religions above and told this? The chain of command told you that you were going to hell and burn in the lake of fire for eternity if you didn’t convert to the Fundamental Evangelical Dominionist sect? That your performance ratings, advancements, and very career were in jeopardy if you didn’t join their “Team Jesus?” No wonder those of other belief systems are praying on the field.
 
This is what many of our soldiers deal with on a daily basis and the ONLY one they can turn to for help is Mikey and his Military Religious Freedom Foundation.
 
You have been duped by the media that has deliberately left our crucial information.
 AFI (Air Force Instruction) 1-12.12, which 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 Establishment Clause
Read this article to get the full scope of what is truly going on: http://www.csindy.com/IndyBlog/archives/2015/12/02/usafas-tebow-prayer-stirs-controversy
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.http://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org/about/foundation-voices/
 
If the military obeyed the laws and regulations listed above, we wouldn’t be having this fight.
Tradition does not trump our laws.
Pastor Joan
MRFF Advisory Board Member

Hi (name withheld),

What makes you think we don’t believe in God? What makes you think it bothers us if someone prays? What makes you think we are intimidated by anything at all, let alone by someone praying? What makes you think we have no respect for anyone’s views?

Please tell me how you have become so misinformed.

Trying to protect the freedom of belief and the freedom of religious choice is hard enough without having to spend time trying to clarify things for people who simply don’t understand what is happening yet for some reason decide to be offended and then compound the problem by criticizing us or attacking us for things they assume to be the case yet are completely wrong.

If you’re interested in communicating I’m happy to oblige. But false accusations and inappropriate assumptions don’t lend to meaningful communication.

Mike Farrell

(MRFF Board of Advisors)


 

Dear (name withheld),

We do expect everyone to respect our view that the United States constitution is the supreme law of the land in this country.  If you do not respect or support the constitution, you’ll find we treat you with very little courtesy.

Representatives of our government, performing official duties, in uniform, cannot use their position to bolster any religious message.

Blake A. Page
Military Religious Freedom Foundation
Special Assistant to the President
Director of US Army Affairs


Dear (name withheld),
I am writing in response to your December 8, 2015 email to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (“MRFF”).  I hope I can clarify MRFF’s mission because you are clearly mistaken regarding our work.

 

Contrary to your claim that we have no respect for anyone else’s views, we fight for the religious freedom of every soldier, sailor, airman, Marine, cadet, and veteran.  Naturally, our clients practice a wide variety of religious faiths, or no religious faith.  Our work requires a tremendous amount of respect for all kinds of views.  In fact, over 96% of our clients are Christians who have suffered discrimination or persecution because of their particular faith.

 

It doesn’t bother us at all if anyone else prays.  However, in the context of the military and military academies, such prayer must take place in the proper time, place, and manner, as required by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

 

In the future, I sincerely suggest doing your homework before accusing anyone of intolerance.

 

Blessed be,

 

Tobanna Barker
MRFF Legal Affairs Coordinator

 

 

 

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2 Comments

  1. Walter Bouman

    Everyone who wishes to pray or not pray have that right as per our constitution. I am a military Vet and we had chaplains and we prayed and talked. No one looked at praying as bad or good. It was an individual choice. You all may think praying is wrong, but I feel it is the soldiers right to pray when ever he or they want. If someone does not like it then that is the way it is. By the way, Islamic State does not care if we pray or not. They hate all people that do not believe as they do. It does not increase the threat or lesson the threat. That is baloney. I have been involved in terrorism all my working career and still today, and I never heard someone with experience in the field of terrorism state this kind of baloney.

  2. Connie

    Walter – so if a group of Pagan football players were to call quarters before a game you’d be supportive?

    See, when I view players praying on the field like that I don’t see devotion. I see juveniles jumping up and down saying “look at me, look at me, aren’t I pious??” I see a photo op for the enemies of the USA with captions pointing out that we don’t REALLY believe in our own Constitution.

    I encourage you to expand your awareness – my late husband was trained in anti-terrorism and he shared his knowledge base before he passed. If I wanted to start a group to hate on the USA I would focus on the hypocrisy shown by those who pray in the public square. The fact you (and your friends) don’t think this way is telling.

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