Veterans

No one has the right to be free from religion, it’s not in the Constitution. Please stop being such an immature pussy, if people want to be followers of jesus that’s just as fine as you choosing not to. The VA choosing to display a bible in no way violates the first ammendment, they are not Congress and are not establishing any law. If you want to stop religion in the military why don’t you harass the people who come knock on your barracks door trying to get you to go to church on Sunday instead of a pow display at a va clinic.
I am the infantry and the Lord my God is my sword and shield.
(name withheld)

Sir,

I have read your email to MRFF.

It is my job to respond to clients, volunteers, sponsors, and people with concerns on how MRFF conducts itself, specifically concerning the Veteran’s Affairs.

To begin, I too have a long history with the Military. I started as a private, worked my way through some NCO ranks, and them commissioned. I am now a 100% disabled veteran after 5 combat tours in a 13 year Army career.

I know Soldiers, and I know what all of you sacrifice and go through.

I appreciate your opinion on the MRFF issue at hand, and I absolutely appreciate your service in the military.

MRFF’s position is that the Bible on public display, in a Government healthcare system is proselytizing, and I’ll explain why so you know where we are coming from.

The Constitution itself does not claim Freedom from religion.

However, the Constitution IS ALSO made up of case law as determined by the Supreme Court.

It is the case law by the Supreme Court that established “Separation of Church and State”, specifically Lemon vs. Kurtzman, 1971.

An outcome of this case law is that a Governmental agency cannot endorse, promote or favor ANY religion.

This is not to say that a person, Soldier, politician, etc. cannot hold their own personal beliefs, or be barred from sharing their belief.

Take my word for it. You’ll find with some research that 90% of MRFF’s clients and volunteers are some denomination of Christianity.

However, the stronger ties that bind all of those clients and volunteers together is the shared love for the Constitution.

Removing the Bible does not attack Christianity, it makes the facility religiously neutral and welcoming to all that go there for Healthcare. It’s a hospital Clinic, not a Chapel.

I swear upon all I hold beloved, I would personally lead the fight for a Christian Soldier or Veteran should they ever be denied the right to bring their personal Bibles into the VA to read while they wait for their appointment, and I am not even Christian.

Please understand, this is about MRFF fighting for all, not a fight against one.

MRFF has vigorously defended Christians, Catholics, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and many more.

If the need should ever arise where you were being discriminated against based on your specific denomination, or denied your right by the military to practice your religion on equal ground with all others, we will fight for you.

Respectfully,

Jordan Ray
Captain, U.S. Army
Retired

Director, Veteran’s Affairs for Military Religious Freedom Foundation


Dear (name withheld),

America has grown up since the Constitution was written. We have Congress that passes laws and the Supreme Court that rules whether they are Constitutional or not–when asked. It’s foolish to believe that if it isn’t in the original Constitution, it is to be ignored.
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 45,200+ soldier clients are Christians – Catholics, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodist, Lutherans, Baptists, Evangelicals, etc. We fight for the rights of these Christians more than any other religion but it never makes the news.
We Christians – involved with the MRFF in any way – are not too happy with your judgmental remarks. No one here is an “immature pussy” and using that word is demeaning towards the women.

It is not our view that the Bible has no place on a POW/MIA table but the Constitution and subsequent Supreme Court rulings that we must obey.

As defenders of the Constitution we fight for the separation of church and state.
Here’s a history lesson for you:
“…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.
This means that there IS FREEDOM FROM RELIGION.
.
The Supreme Court heard the Lemon v. Kurtzman case in 1971 and ruled in favor of the Establishment ClauseSubsequent 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
Another FREEDOM FROM RELIGION law where the government is concerned.
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
FREEDOM FROM RELIGION in the military.
The Bible on the table does not represent all of the 83,000+ POW/MIA’s. Within the missing are soldiers of other beliefs or of no belief system and to deny this is ludicrous, especially since my uncle was an atheist and is MIA.
In other words, if you want a Bible on the POW/MIA table you have to include the Torah, Koran, representations of other religions and atheism in order to be in compliance with the Constitution, Lemon Test and Parker v. Levy. It’s either all religions or none but because some Christians don’t want to share the table, the Bible had to be removed.
The blame is placed squarely at their feet…not ours.
US Army chaplain MAJ James Linzey (a Fundamental, Evangelical, Dominionist), who, in a 1999 video, described mainstream Protestant churches as “demonic, dastardly creatures from the pit of hell “that should be “stomped out.”
 
“I am for freedom of religion and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect above another.”
Thomas Jefferson’s letter to Elbridge Gerry January 26, 1799
The Founding Fathers regarding religion:
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, EcclesiasticalEndowments
 
“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 majority, in 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.
“If you want to stop religion in the military why don’t you harass the people who come knock on your barracks door trying to get you to go to church on Sunday?”
We are not out to stop religion in the military but it must adhere to the laws in effect today.
It’s up to the individual soldier to accept or decline an invitation to go to church, not us.
Read Our Mission to get a better understanding of what we do.
Pastor Joan
MRFF Advisory Board Member

Dear Mr. Infantry,

You seem to have as imperfect an understanding of the Constitution and the laws of this country as you do of the teachings of the Lord your God.

I doubt that you care, but no one here wants to “stop religion in the military,” we just want everyone to have the same rights as everyone else. If people want, as you suggest, to be “followers of Jesus,” that is their right and we have no problem with it. But in the military, since it’s part of the government, everyone’s belief must be honored, not just that of the Christians. Religious expression and belief are perfectly fine, but they have to be expressed in the proper time, place and manner.

In fact, placing a Bible in a display in a government affiliated organization is a violation of both law and military regulations. That ought to be easy to understand, since not every soldier you serve with is a Christian and their beliefs or non-beliefs must be honored equally well.

Maybe you might profit from putting down your sword and shield and picking up your Bible. You’ll find it teaches love and tolerance, possibly lessons you skipped?

Mike Farrell

(MRFF Board of Advisors)


 

Dear (name withheld) –

 

I am writing in response to your March 31, 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 hate to disappoint you, but an act by Congress to establish a law is not required for the First Amendment to be violated.  Instead, any act or policy of a government entity or person acting in the capacity of an agent of the government violates the Establishment Clause if any one of the following is shown: (1) its purpose is not secular; (2) its principal/primary effect either advances or inhibits religion; or (3) it fosters an excessive entanglement with religion.  Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971).

 

The VA is clearly a government entity, including the Bible in a POW/MIA display has no secular purpose, its inclusion can only have the effect of advancing religion, and endorsing one religion (Christianity) in the context of a display meant to honor all service members fosters an excessive entanglement with religion.  Therefore, including the Bible in the POW/MIA display does violate the First Amendment.

 

The one thing about which you are correct is that all citizens, including all brave men and women in uniform, have the right to be followers of Christ, just as others are free to practice other religions or no religion.  That said, I am confident that any true follower of Christ will tell you that the words “immature pussy” appear nowhere in the Bible you claim to defend.

 

Blessed be,

 

Tobanna Barker

MRFF Legal Affairs Coordinator

 

 

 

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