Attack on the First Amendment

 Dear MRFF

I understand that you have joined in the fight to remove Bibles, Bible Verses, Speech about the Bible, and references
of or from a Christian stand point from the military.   Is this correct?    Are you putting money, time and or effort
to remove Christian beliefs from the military?      WOULD YOU DO THIS IF ISLAM WAS THE ONE IN QUESTION?

I expect an answer to EVERY question.
Thank you for your time.

(name withheld)


 

Dear (name withheld),

The answer to EVERY question you’ve asked is as follows:
No. No. And stupid question, but sure.

We don’t have the authority to ban anything anywhere.  We are a non profit advocacy group which serves the singular purpose of giving a voice to those in our military who cannot safely speak for themselves.  On the matter of bibles in POW/MIA displays, we notified leaders at several installations that existing US law and military regulation was being violated. Fortunately, those leaders had the good sense to recognize that this is a country of laws, and regardless of how much consternation it causes Dominionists, separatists, Christian nationalists, or subversives of any other variety, we don’t have free reign to pick and choose which laws to follow without consequence.  If that limited public forum were opened to the inclusion of other holy texts, the bible could have stayed.  It was ultimately the decision of the leaders at those installations.

Our organization spends its time, money, and effort fighting theocracy, and defending our clients.  We do not have any ability to remove individual’s beliefs. We do fight against state sponsored religion in the way our Constitution demands any patriot ought.

If the United States government made a real effort to promote Islam as the state sanctioned religion in the same way it so often treats Christianity, we’d be first in line to smack that nonsense down.  Our secular government’s design doesn’t get to pick winners or losers when it comes to personal faith.

You’re welcome,

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


Hi (name withheld),

Are you in the military? Are or were you an officer, or perhaps a high-level non-com? I ask because your rather tersely put questions bring to mind one used to giving orders. And the final question, all in CAPS, suggests you think you’re springing a cleverly laid trap. This, it seems to me, is rather odd behavior if all you’re looking for is some simple information.

However, given the flow of queries that have come our way in recent days, let me just try to respond in as appropriate a manner as possible; that is, answering your questions as if you hadn’t already determined what you think the answers should be.

1) You understand wrong. We have not joined any fight. We have initiated, at the request of military personnel, an effort to remove inappropriate religious icons from government-supported displays and stop inappropriate religious proselytizing at certain military events.

2) We have no interest in removing the list of things you mention that may represent what you call a “Christian stand point” from the members of the military for whom they have meaning. We do believe, however, that in honor of the separation of church and state those things you mention should not be placed, displayed, engraved, promoted or otherwise made to appear that they are representative of the U.S. military or the U.S. government.

(I’m sure you understand how inappropriate that would be.)

3) No, it is not correct.

4) No, we are certainly not putting time, money or effort into removing Christian beliefs from the military. The military has no religious belief. The women and men in the military have a variety of beliefs, of course, and they are welcome to them. (I, for one, am uncertain about how anyone could “remove” a belief of any kind from anyone, whether Christian or otherwise. Nor do I understand why anyone would want to do such a thing.)

For the record, removing Christian beliefs would make no sense for us even if it were possible, since over 95% of those associated with the MRFF are themselves Christians.

5) YES. If the Koran was he only religious artifact to be placed on a table as part of a salute to POWs and MIAs, if Koranic verses were engraved on military-issue weapons, if Islamic proselytizing was taking place in military events promoted by general officers, or if testimony was given claiming conversion to Islam was the only way to heal from a sexual assault, or was necessary to be a properly effective military leader, you bet we would do the same thing.

I THINK THAT ANSWERS YOUR EVERY QUESTION. IF THERE’S SOMETHING I HAVEN’T MADE CLEAR, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO CONTACT US AGAIN.

Mike Farrell

(MRFF Board of Advisors)


 

Dear (name withheld),

I’m an active duty Air Force officer and long-time supporter of the MRFF.  I can say, unequivocally, that the MRFF has no interest at all in denying the right to worship to any member of the military–Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, or Ba’hai.  That right is guaranteed by the Constitution that I have sworn to defend for well over over 30 years.  The MRFF, in fact, supports the diverse American population represented by those that choose to serve in our military and values and respects the contributions made by those soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines.
We do recognize, however, that while thousands of Christians (and others) serve in the military around the world, it is completely counter to our Constitution (i.e., the Establishment Clause), judicial precedent (Parker vs Levy) and current policy (e.g., AFI1-1) for those in command or other hierarchical positions within the military to use their status or rank to advance a specific religious perspective or belief–or to promote non-belief for that matter.  Commanders simply cannot and should not consider a specific religious belief as a necessary or sufficient condition for honorable service in our military, nor should they judge those subordinate to them on this basis.  They should be judged solely on the performance of their duty to ‘support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic.’
To your point, the MRFF does fight to remove religious symbolism, verses, and speech of all kinds IN THE MILITARY WORKPLACE to the extent they violate the laws as described above. As an active duty member, I cannot urge my subordinates to vote for a specific political candidate and I cannot urge them, actively or passively, to practice a specific religion.  That word “passive” means that, if I hold official business in my office, that I can’t have posters declaring my religious belief (or non-belief) obvious to all who enter my office for fear that they might perceive those posters as hostile to their own personally chosen beliefs.  Yes, the MRFF would fight just as hard to remove a declaration of Muslim Faith from the military workplace as they would Christian, and they would not tolerate anti-religious declarations (e.g., Marx’s “Religion is the Opiate of the Masses” quote) either.  They have fought against commanders who choose to drive their cars on-base with hostile anti-religious messages, for example–that’s just not appropriate in our workplace, even if it is protected free speech on public streets or the mall parking lot.
I hope that I’m making myself clear and realize that this is a complex issue that we all wrestle with–it can take more than a Tweet to describe.  You ask “Are you putting money, time and or effort
to remove Christian beliefs from the military?”  The answer here, again, is a complete and total “No!”  Military members are completely free to believe in Christ and should enjoy the right to worship as they see fit during their free, non-duty time at the base chapel or local church of their choosing.  96% of the MRFF’s clients are, after all, Christians themselves.  All that the MRFF asks is that ALL military members–and especially those in leadership positions–allow others in the military to enjoy the same right, unencumbered by the worry that their strongly held personal beliefs will not be an impediment to their accomplishment of duties, promotion, or career status.  Is that too much to ask?
Thanks for your inquiry.  I’d be glad to answer any other questions you have via Mikey.

(name withheld)


 

Dear (name withheld),

You don’t have to demand a response to your questions because we do reply to every email. We believe in educating those who contact us in contrast to those who deliberately omit important informant to mislead people.

 

And, yes, we would do the same thing if it was Islam.

 

Here’s what they neglected to tell you:

 

Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor said “We do not count heads before enforcing the First Amendment.”

 

In other words, the majority doesn’t rule over the minority where First Amendment rights are concerned.

 

Her statement is based on past SCOTUS Establishment Clause rulings regarding entanglement of any government entity with religion.

 

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. Kurtzmacase 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

 

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

 

One of the reasons that were taken into consideration was that the bible was never included in the original POW/MIA table.

http://www.nationalalliance.org/alliance_files/cermony.htm

Col. John M. Devillier is the installation commander and his spokesman paraphrased AFI (Air Force Instruction) 1-1, Sections 2.11.and 2.12:

“Our leaders and personnel are encouraged to accommodate the free exercise of religion and other personal beliefs, including freedom of expression unless it has an adverse impact on mission accomplishment,” he wrote. “Air Force leaders must carefully balance constitutional protections of individuals’ free exercise of religion or other personal beliefs with the constitutional separation of church and state. They must ensure their actions cannot reasonably be construed to officially endorse, disapprove of, or extend preferential treatment to any faith or absence of faith.”

http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/news/local-military/turner-objects-to-removal-of-bible-from-wright-pat/nq47X/

 

The bible on the table violates AFI 1-1, sections 2.11 and 2.12, the Constitution, Reynolds v. U.S., 98 U.S. 145 (1878), Lemon v. Kurtzman, the Lemon Test and Parker v. Levy.

 

Plus, the Christian bible on the table does not represent all of the POW/MIA’s.

 

According to Thomas Jefferson our laws protect the freedom of all religions and those of no religion in America:

 

“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

 

“Strongly guarded as is the separation between religion and & Gov’t 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 Detached Memoranda, circa 1820

 

We ONLY step in when a soldier or soldiers complain to us of the trampling of the Constitution, Supreme Court rulings and military laws, when their chain of command ignores them.

 

This is the legal response to EVERY question.

 

Pastor Joan

MRFF Advisory Board Member

 

 

 

 

 

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4 Comments

  1. martin

    are you all atheists? judging by your actions I am assuming so. the government is NOT a religion and the constitution is NOT a bible. what you are doing is wrong and immoral and asking for money only prostitutes your actions.

  2. Paula

    Dearest Martin,
    If you have not by now, from all the information right in front of you every single time you enter this page, understood that, no, MRFF is not composed of atheists; in fact, the great majority of people involved with MRFF are christian (between 90 and 100%). Obviously this accurate information does not fit your narrative, so I expect that you will continue to stick your fingers in your ears and yell, “LALALALALALALALALALALALALA!!!!!!!” anytime a rational and sane person tries to help you to see the truth. Your loss. You are correct in your statement that the government is not a religion and the Constitution is not a bible; indeed, they are secular in origin and nature, and neither one should be affected by any religion–not yours, not mine–but function in the manner they were designed and envisioned by those who first conceived of them. The activity of MRFF is neither wrong nor immoral, but, again, this truth does not support your self-righteous narrative, so I know it will go unheeded. You may be the one better acquainted with prostitution, as you have apparently sold your integrity to folks who bear false witness and blaspheme regularly. May you find peace in your life….

  3. G

    Yeah, Martin and as George Carlin pointed out if God is all powerful, then why does he need money? As Carlin pointed out God is all knowing and all power; yet, he can’t seems to handle money.

  4. Mary

    I support giving our soldiers Bibles, letting them wear crosses, post verses, pray openly and other free expressions of our Christian American heritage.

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