USAF

So just who do you think the USAF players are hurting by praying on the field? They have the freedom to pray if they wish. They are not forcing anyone to join them. You people are idiots and full of hatred. It sure is ironic that as we remove God from our public view by dropping public prayer, removing the Ten Commandments from our court houses, and demonizing prayer, our nation falls deeper into moral decline. Don’t you see the pattern?

(name withheld)


 

Dear (name withheld),
Mikey started the Military Religious Freedom Foundation over 10 years ago to help our soldiers who are the recipients of in-your-face religious proselytizing by an extreme sect of Christianity known as the Fundamental Evangelical Dominionists. It is this sect that has hijacked our military over the past 3 decades.
 
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.
 
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. 
 
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 was 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 an article that has deliberately left our crucial information and horribly paraphrased the one law it did mention.
 
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.
 
Here’s the real Parker v. Levy law that was horribly paraphrased:
 
 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.
 
Read where the 10 Commandments really came from in the 1950’s.
 
Jesus was against public prayer and called those who practiced it hypocrites.
 
“And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the HYPOCRITES are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets (football fields), that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. (Matthew 6:5-6)
 
Humanity has been in decline since Cain killed Abel. Read your bible from cover to cover and see the “pattern” of it was started long ago.
 
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

Dear (name withheld),
I am writing in response to your December 8, 2015 email to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (“MRFF”).  While you are correct that USAFA cadets have the right to pray, you clearly misunderstand the requirements of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

 

USAFA cadets represent the USAFA.  When they pray publicly, the result is a public endorsement by the USAFA (and the U.S. Air Force and, consequently, the U.S. military) of Christianity over other religions.  While MRFF has no problem with individual players praying to the deity of their choice, this public endorsement of Christianity violates the Establishment Clause.

 

You say that the team does not force any players to participate.  However, just because something is labeled “voluntary,” it doesn’t mean there are no consequences for not participating.  Retaliation is a very real threat in a military academy environment, and this threat transforms a “voluntary” act into a mandatory one.  Although your question, “Just who do you think the USAFA players are hurting by praying on the field?” seems to be rhetorical, the answer is real – they are hurting every other USAFA cadet who feels forced to accept Christianity as a result of the pervasive environment excluding all other religions – especially the players who are coerced into participating.  It further hurts all brave men and women in uniform by providing terrorist groups with the ammunition they need to claim that the U.S. military is doing nothing more than fighting a crusade against Islam.

 

To answer your final question – No, I do not see a pattern of moral decline as a result of “remov[ing] God from our public view by dropping public prayer, removing the Ten Commandments from our court houses [sic], and demonizing prayer.”  I do, however, see a pattern of hypocrisy – specifically by people such as you, who first argue that cadets and service members have the right of religious freedom and then, in the same breath, argue that public demonstrations of Christianity promote morality throughout the nation.  What you are really saying is that the USAFA cadets have the freedom to pray AS LONG AS THEY PRAY TO A CHRISTIAN GOD.  I sincerely doubt that you would defend the freedom of prayer if the players all knelt toward Mecca or formed the shape of a pentacle in prayer to the Goddess of War before each game.

 

Blessed be,

 

Tobanna Barker
MRFF Legal Affairs Coordinator

 

 

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