Our Flag

Our flag is a religious symbol?  Um….no, it’s not.  The Constitution is now religious scripture?  Um….no, it’s not.  Patriotism is a religious faith?  Um….no, it’s not.  Who came up with that garbage?  Your organization is really just pure hogwash.  Nothing but a façade!  This country doesn’t and never has needed people like you.  Hey, what do you say about the USAF paying for two servicemen to attend a wiccan festival?  Bunch of two-faced liars!  You’re disgusting.  G’day

(name withheld)


 

Dear unsigned but nonetheless (name withheld),

We like to respond appropriately to those who reach out to us. Some, of course, are asking for help. Some just need help. You qualify.

I don’t know of anyone at the MRFF who claims the flag is a religious symbol. Nor do I know of anyone here who claims patriotism as a religious faith. But if someone chose to adopt either as icons of her or his religion I guess that person would be free to do so. It’s a free country, you know?

But to your query about who came up with what you call “that garbage,” the answer is it’s no one I know about. But it seems that your use of those thoughts as prelude to determining that the MRFF is “pure hogwash” and a “facade” defies a discernible logical trail. I suspect that’s not new to you.

Actually, because there are a lot of people in the military who don’t seem to understand that it’s not only inappropriate but illegal to promote one belief system over others there is, sadly, a lot of need in this country for the work we do.

Per your final concern, since the the Air Force regularly supports servicemen who wish to attend mainstream religious events, why should it be different for wiccans? Doesn’t freedom of religion mean what it says?

Mike Farrell

(MRFF Board of Advisors)


 

Dear (name withheld) –

 

I am writing in response to your March 1, 2016 email to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (“MRFF”).  I would have addressed you by name, but you declined to include it in your email.

 

I assume that your statements that the flag is not a religious symbol, the Constitution is not religious scripture, and patriotism is not a religious faith refer to MRFF’s slogan, stating that, for members of the military, the only religious symbol is the flag, the only religious scripture is the Constitution, and the only religion is American patriotism.  You are, of course, correct that the flag, Constitution, and patriotism are not actually religious symbols.  The slogan is obviously a metaphor.

 

I’m sorry – you probably need to know what a metaphor is before I continue.  A metaphor is a figure of speech that identifies something as being the same as something else for rhetorical effect.

 

I did it again – “rhetorical” means that the comparison is symbolic, rather than literal.  That means that the items being compared (the Constitution and a religious text, etc.) are intentionally not similar in order to illustrate a deeper meaning.  By “illustrate,” I am not referring to the drawings in a book, but to how something is demonstrated.

 

How can I explain this in a way someone without a dictionary in his cave can understand?

 

When Elvis Presley sang, “You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog,” he did not mean that the girl he was describing was actually a canine.  Instead, he was saying that she would not leave him alone – much like a dog hoping for treats.  Similarly, MRFF does not actually believe that patriotism is a religious faith.  The slogan is designed to highlight the fact that service members, while free to practice the religion of their choice (or no religion at all), are sworn to uphold the Constitution as opposed to their personal religious beliefs.

 

I cannot perform a puppet show teaching metaphor via email, so I hope the musical reference is helpful to you, despite my use of words containing more than two syllables.  Now might be a good time to also mention that love is not actually a battlefield, the world is not truly a vampire, and the milkshake that brings all the boys to the yard has nothing to do with a dessert beverage.

 

Now that the metaphor issue has been explained (exhausting!), I can state that, contrary to your claim that this country “doesn’t and never has needed people like [us],” our 45,036 clients would clearly disagree.  Frankly, we look forward to the day when our services are not needed because that would mean that no soldier, sailor, airman, Marine, cadet, or veteran is suffering from wrongful religious discrimination or proselytizing.  Unfortunately, as long as the religious freedom of our service members is being violated, we are needed and will work tirelessly to protect the rights of the brave men and women in uniform who sacrifice so much to protect our rights.

 

Sincerely,

 

Tobanna Barker

MRFF Legal Affairs Coordinator

 


G’Day to you, too.

I think you may be confused.  You seem to take symbolic language way too literally.  When the MRFF speaks of the high regard in which we hold the US Flag, the US Constitution, and the principles of Patriotism, it is from the perspective that those are things which should unite all Americans, regardless of personally-held religious beliefs.
In my view, any issue with the interpretation of these symbols and values rests with people who insist that they are only valid if viewed through a specific Christian lens.
You probably know the type of person to whom I refer — they will say things like, “America was founded as a Christian nation.”  They will claim  that the US Constitution has an explicit Christian foundation. They will insist that a “real patriot” worships the Christian God.
All those things are demonstrably false, and it is those false notions against which the MRFF stands opposed. Those fallacious assertions inevitably lead to the marginalization of Americans who don’t fit that specific mold — and that inevitably leads to violations of the Constitutional rights of some Americans.
So –
Does the MRFF fully support the true principles that the US Flag represents? Yes.
Does the MRFF fully support the Constitutional protections that are owed to all US service members, regardless of religious belief (including non-belief)? Yes.

Is the MRFF comprised of deeplycommitted Patriots who hold a variety of religious beliefs?  Yes.

That is what we are all about.
Peace,
Mike Challman
Christian, USAF veteran, MRFF supporter

Food for thought.

 

We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.  ~ John Adams

 

 

And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.  ~ George Washington

 

 

Let us not forget the religious character of our origin. Our fathers were brought hither by their high veneration for the Christian religion. They journeyed by its light, and labored in its hope. They sought to incorporate its principles with the elements of their society, and to diffuse its influence through all their institutions, civil, political, or literary.  ~ Daniel Webster

 

You must have been taught the revised edition of American History!  Millennial by chance?  Bye…..Bye…..

(name withheld)


 

Dear (name withheld),

Two mistakes on your part (something that seems may be a habit) —

First, it’s never a worthwhile goal to cherry pick from the many, many quotes attributable to the founding generation.

Second, I am far from a millennial — 53 yrs old, USAF Academy graduate, USAF veteran, corporate executive, married almost 28 years, father of 3 grown children.
No comments on the thoughts I shared with you?
Peace,
Mike

No comments on what some of the “real” founders of this country had to say?  LOL  Quotes from our founding fathers should be in every government building.  Be a little harder to stop that, no?  TaTa
It’s the influence of your children that has altered your thinking into that of a millennial.  Don’t attempt to rewrite history like so many want to do.  Then again, there are those of ‘you’ who are bound to repeat the same mistakes, over and over.  Cute game of deflection, though!
 (name withheld)

Food for thought.

 

We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.  ~ John Adams

 

 

And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.  ~ George Washington

 

 

Let us not forget the religious character of our origin. Our fathers were brought hither by their high veneration for the Christian religion. They journeyed by its light, and labored in its hope. They sought to incorporate its principles with the elements of their society, and to diffuse its influence through all their institutions, civil, political, or literary.  ~ Daniel Webster

 

You must have been taught the revised edition of American History!  Millennial by chance?  Bye…..Bye…..

(name withheld)


 

Two mistakes on your part (something that seems may be a habit) — 

First, it’s never a worthwhile goal to cherry pick from the many, many quotes attributable to the founding generation. 

Second, I am far from a millennial — 53 yrs old, USAF Academy graduate, USAF veteran, corporate executive, married almost 28 years, father of 3 grown children.
No comments on the thoughts I shared with you?
Peace,
Mike

 

No comments on what some of the “real” founders of this country had to say?  LOL  Quotes from our founding fathers should be in every government building.  Be a little harder to stop that, no?  TaTa
It’s the influence of your children that has altered your thinking into that of a millennial.  Don’t attempt to rewrite history like so many want to do.  Then again, there are those of ‘you’ who are bound to repeat the same mistakes, over and over.  Cute game of deflection, though!
(name withheld)

You really do make me laugh…. seemingly so self-impressed by your supposed debate prowess, as shown by your silly little “bye byes” and “ta tas”, yet all the while you actually offer nothing substantive to support your poorly articulated complaints.

As I said, I think that tossing founder’s quotes at one another is, more often than not, an unsatisfying exercise. But since you are so keen to play that game, I’ll toss some your way, too.  See below.
And as for your comment about the “influence” of my children “altering [my] thinking into that of a millennial”, that is simply hysterical! That sort of comment can only come from some dude who still lives in his Mom’s basement. Do you?
In any case, here is your good for thought. Enjoy. Peace, Mike
__________
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, 1789
Of all the animosities which have existed among mankind, those which are caused by a difference of sentiments in religion appear to be the most inveterate and distressing, and ought to be deprecated. I was in hopes that the enlightened and liberal policy, which has marked the present age, would at least have reconciled Christians of every denomination so far that we should never again see the religious disputes carried to such a pitch as to endanger the peace of society.  George Washington, 1792
We have abundant reason to rejoice that in this Land the light of truth and reason has triumphed over the power of bigotry and superstition… In this enlightened Age and in this Land of equal liberty it is our boast, that a man’s religious tenets will not forfeit the protection of the Laws, nor deprive him of the right of attaining and holding the highest Offices that are known in the United States. George Washington, 1793
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, 1787
We should begin by setting conscience free. When all men of all religions shall enjoy equal liberty, property, and an equal chance for honors and power we may expect that improvements will be made in the human character and the state of society.  John Adams, 1785
The Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.  Treaty of Tripoli (signed by John Adams), 1797
I am for freedom of religion and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another.  Thomas Jefferson, 1799
I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state.  Thomas Jefferson, 1802
Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person’s life, freedom of religion affects every individual. State churches that use government power to support themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of the church tends to make the clergy unresponsive to the people and leads to corruption within religion. Erecting the “wall of separation between church and state,” therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society. We have solved … the great and interesting question whether freedom of religion is compatible with order in government and obedience to the laws. And we have experienced the quiet as well as the comfort which results from leaving every one to profess freely and openly those principles of religion which are the inductions of his own reason and the serious convictions of his own inquiries.  Thomas Jefferson, 1808
Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.  Thomas Jefferson, 1814
The civil government functions with complete success by the total separation of the Church from the State.  James Madison, 1819
And I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.  James Madison, 1822
Every new and successful example of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters is of importance.  James Madison, 1822
That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forebearance, love, and charity towards each other.   George Mason, 1776
A man of abilities and character, of any sect whatever, may be admitted to any office or public trust under the United States. I am a friend to a variety of sects, because they keep one another in order. How many different sects are we composed of throughout the United States? How many different sects will be in congress? We cannot enumerate the sects that may be in congress. And there are so many now in the United States that they will prevent the establishment of any one sect in prejudice to the rest, and will forever oppose all attempts to infringe religious liberty. If such an attempt be made, will not the alarm be sounded throughout America? If congress be as wicked as we are foretold they will, they would not run the risk of exciting the resentment of all, or most of the religious sects in America.  Edmund Randolph, 1788
A general toleration of Religion appears to me the best means of peopling our country… The free exercise of religion hath stocked the Northern part of the continent with inhabitants; and altho’ Europe hath in great measure adopted a more moderate policy, yet the profession of Protestantism is extremely inconvenient in many places there. A Calvinist, a Lutheran, or Quaker, who hath felt these inconveniences in Europe, sails not to Virginia, where they are felt perhaps in a (greater degree).  Patrick Henry, 1766
Knowledge and liberty are so prevalent in this country, that I do not believe that the United States would ever be disposed to establish one religious sect, and lay all others under legal disabilities. But as we know not what may take place hereafter, and any such test would be exceedingly injurious to the rights of free citizens, I cannot think it altogether superfluous to have added a clause, which secures us from the possibility of such oppression.  Oliver Wolcott, 1788
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, 1773
Congress has no power to make any religious establishments.  Roger Sherman, 1789
The American states have gone far in assisting the progress of truth; but they have stopped short of perfection. They ought to have given every honest citizen an equal right to enjoy his religion and an equal title to all civil emoluments, without obliging him to tell his religion. Every interference of the civil power in regulating opinion, is an impious attempt to take the business of the Deity out of his own hands; and every preference given to any religious denomination, is so far slavery and bigotry.  Noah Webster, 1785

Mikey, unfortunately you’re just a common garden-variety troll.  Why do I get the feeling you’re not laughing?  Are you ready for the house of cards to come tumbling down?  Should be.  Goodbye Mikey!
Oh, there’s a new organization on the horizon, it’s called Americans Against Whiny Ass Atheists.  I think you’re gonna love it!  Goodbye!
(name withheld)

That is rich. The only trollish behavior being displayed here is your own — let’s look at the facts again. You are the one sniping from the shadows. You are the one hiding behind a pseudonym.  You are the one offering nothing of real substance or value. All the qualities of a common troll.

And yes, I am truly laughing at your performance — I’ve engaged with much more creative trolls in the past.

By the way, yet another error on your part —  I’m not an atheist. I am a lifelong, committed Christian. But then, you are probably going to continue to advance whatever false narrative makes you feel superior.
Peace,
Mike Challman

You haven’t backed up a damn thing.  Nothing.  All you’ve exhibited is deflection, which I suspect is common with you.  Committed Christian?  Sure!  Simple fact is, you and your organization are not what you would have the public believe.  Yet, you say I’m in the shadows?  Good one!  You’re trying to blow BS up people’s asses.  Drop the words “religion” and “military” from your name and see exactly how relevant you are.  No Christian influence in the founding of this nation?  I threw that right back in your face, didn’t I?  After all, if one were to ‘think’ for a moment, one would realize that during the 1400 and 1500s religion was THE topic everyday.  Now, how did our founding fathers just up and forget all that?  They didn’t.  Talk about a foolish argument!  Again, I’m in the shadows?  I contacted you, remember?  Doesn’t sound like hiding to me but your deflection is there for all to see.  G’day and Goodbye
(name withheld)

So you’re not hiding in the shadows?  Great, then you’ll share your name with me? Super, I look forward to that.

I’ve deflected nothing, my friend. I’ve shared with you precisely what the MRFF stands for, you’ve just ignored it. If you have specific objections or issues you want to address, list them and I’ll be happy to discuss point-by-point. Please put on your thinking cap and state your case, and I will respond directly.
You provided a couple of founders quotes that suggest the personal beliefs of a couple of them. That is great, no one has ever argued that there were no men of faith among that august group. I provided many more that represent the founders’ desire to ensure true religious liberty and freedom for all Americans.
I am curious about something — you keep dismissing me with “bye bye”, “ta ta”, “Gday”, and multiple “Goodbye’s”…… and yet you are still here. Seems that you want to have a real dialogue;  let’s have one.
So please, tell me specifically — what is it about the mission and activities of the MRFF that you find objectionable? Do you possess the intellectual heft to articulate your thoughts in a rational and understandable way?
If so, then let’s quit dancing and get at it. If not, you really should move on and play the troll somewhere else.
Peace,
Mike Challman

I contacted you, that’s hiding?  No, it’s not.  You are exactly what I thought you were.  See for yourself..Weinstein describes the group’s target as “a small subset of Fundamentalist Christianity that’s called premilliennial, dispensational, reconstructionist, dominionist, fundamentalist, or just Dominionist Christianity.”[2] He further characterized their target as “”incredibly well-funded gangs of fundamentalist Christian monsters who terrorize their fellow Americans by forcing their weaponized and twisted version of Christianity upon their helpless subordinates in our nation’s armed forces.”.  See what I mean?  You are part of the problem, not the solution.  Exactly like I thought, fellow serviceman rides you and you can’t take it, forever hell bent on making that “monster” pay.  Isn’t that the real issue?  And, just how do you manage to pocket +/- $300,000 from a non profit organization?  Getting the picture yet?  You’re using people for your own gain.  That’s what I call scum ball material.  Your real mission…..In November 2014 press release, Weinstein alleged that “radical Christians” in America could “pose the same kind of threat” as the terrorist group ISIS does in the Middle East.[35]

MRFF has been listed as an Anti-Christian Bigotry Group by the American Family Association as of March 2015 for “[filing] lawsuits and [using] intimidation to silence any reference to Christianity from the public square.”

My my my, looks like someone needs to look into your accounting habits.  I’m not surprised in the least.  I had this group pegged from the get-go!  Nailed it.

You are hereby dismissed.

(name withheld)


 

Well now we’re making a little bit of progress.  You have started to share some actual specifics about aspects of the MRFF mission and message that you find objectionable. I’m more than happy to address those items directly… but first I just want to point out again that you are, in fact, hiding in the shadows.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t be allowed to remain anonymous if that is what you want to do — I just think we should acknowledge that behavior for what it is… dwelling in the shadows.

Now, to your objections —
1 – Dominionist Christians — This is neither MRFF terminology, nor a concept of MRFF creation.  Just google the term and you’ll find more source documentation than you will care to read.  So yes, this particular group of individuals is without question a threat to the Constitutional rights of other Americans, because they believe it is part of their mandate as believers to inculcate governmental institutions, including our military, with laws and rules that explicitly promote their particular brand of Christianity.  As such, they are a threat to the Constitutional rights of others.
There is no one associated with the MRFF who objects to Christianity itself – in fact, a significant portion of MRFF supporters and clients are people of faith, mostly Christians of one stripe or another. To go a step further, MRFF even supports the individual rights of Dominionists to hold their particular religious beliefs.  The only thing to which we object is efforts to improperly promote a particular sectarian religious belief at an inappropriate time, place, or manner — and this focus is in no way limited to Christians.  If it happens that a non-Christian military leader (of a different brand of religious faith or a non-believer) acts in a manner that crosses the line of appropriate time, place, and manner and is acting in a manner contrary to governing law and regulation, the MRFF will object.
Sadly, it seems that it is generally a small subset of Christians who most often expect preferential treatment with regard to the expression of their religious beliefs in a military setting.  You have every right to disagree, and you have every right to feel that Mikey’s choice of words is impolitic, but you don’t get to change the facts.  And the fact remains that there really are people who sometimes act in this inappropriate manner.
2 – MRFF Financials — So I gather from your comments that you think that MRFF donations are improperly used?  Two comments to consider — first, those of us who donate to the MRFF are very clear as to how and where our donation dollars are spent. If you don’t like it, then you don’t have to contribute.  As for whether anyone is getting rich at the MRFF, I think that is a laugh.  Mikey Weinstein’s salary is entirely appropriate, even modest in my view, for the work he performs, his educational background, his overall qualifications, and his years of experience.
3 – AFA List — You are right, the AFA included the MRFF on its list of organizations that it claims are “anti-Christian”. They created that list in a petulant outburst after the SPLC included AFA on a list of organizations that it views as hate groups. So everyone is labeling everyone else, so what?  From my standpoint, given the decidedly un-Christian behavior of the AFA, being identified as an opponent of that nasty group only confirms that the MRFF is doing something right.
———————–
So there you go — my direct responses. If you want to continue to discuss them, I’m game.
Of course, you have already “hereby dismissed” me (you are so cute when you get all puffed up like that!)… so maybe you aren’t interested in having a grown-up conversation.
Peace,
Mike Challman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4 Comments

  1. Pooka

    Mike—

    You ROCK !!!!!!!

    Tobanna —

    A bit harsh ! Actually, a lot harsh. Not needed.

    MRFF Member – Constitution Society Member

  2. Connie

    Mike, I’m not affiliated with MRFF – just a citizen here.

    It is interesting you skipped the mission statement and about section to focus on a logo. It’s almost as if you already had an opinion and went looking for confirmation.

    As I see the military and any other tax paid position when a person is on duty they represent everyone in the USA. This means their faith or lack of faith is secondary to the Constitution. I already know dominionists believe otherwise and will not change their mind.

    As for you mentioning the Wiccans – where was your ire when Christians were the recepients of Chaplain funds? Oh yeah – no one counts but you and your flavor of faith.

    Way to teach your progeny about sharing and the Constitution (snark)

  3. Mark Sebree

    Here is another tidbit, since it was mentioned. The AFA “Bigotry Map”, which pretty much included anyone who opposed the AFA and their ideals, and included groups which had never come in contact with the AFA or filed any lawsuits against anyone, was taken down a couple weeks ago and is no longer available their their site. Perhaps the AFA got tired of being rightly ridiculed for their lame knock-off of the SPLC’s “Hate Map”, where every entry was researched and the results were readily available as to why the person or group was included.

  4. XaurreauX

    Secularism is for grownups, i.e., those who don’t need the government to prop up their religion.

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