No longer Supporting MRFF

To Whom it may concern,
I was a huge MRFF supporter and from the first time I heard about your organization I was donating money and glad to see someone stepping up for a good cause. However over the last year the “issues” you’ve gone from supporting have been less about preventing commanders from abusing their power and more to being in the news cycle. I don’t want to donate money to have someone fight a gate guard saying “god bless you” or to remove a bible from some VA displays. Yet while I cut off my donations I have now decided to cut all ties with your organization due to my feeling that you are not behaving like former military officers should. The billboard thing is simply a shock value attempt and makes you look like a toddler crying instead of a serious professional organization.  I hope to one day become a supporter of MRFF again but I want nothing to do with people trying to make headlines instead of trying to protect my fellow service members. 
(name withheld)

Dear (name withheld),

I just saw your message and wanted to express my regrets at your change of heart about religious proselytizing in the military.

If I understand you correctly, the reason you originally chose to support the MRFF was because you saw us as dedicated to preventing commanders from abusing their power. However, you now feel that issues like removal of the Bible from VA “Missing Man” displays, etc., are not genuine issues deserving of our attention and instead are indicators of our having become headline grabbers who lack the seriousness of a professional organization.

That’s a troubling assertion. So since I am proud to have my name associated with the MRFF I’d like to take a minute to respond.

The long-standing, conscious and quite serious attempt on the part of zealous devotees of a Christian fundamentalist sect to insinuate their theocratic agenda into our government through the U.S. military is, in my view, a very real problem that manifests itself in many ways, some of them quite subtle. It’s not always a question of  commanders abusing their power, at least not consciously. It is sometimes arranging a Biblical inscription on a military-issue weapon. Recently it had to do with the official sponsorship of a speaker on sexual abuse, herself a victim, who asserted that the only way to heal from a sexual assault was through the acceptance of Jesus. Now that may be her sincere belief, but it should not be promoted and endorsed in an official military event.

Calling for the removal of a Bible from the VA “Missing Man” display seems to you to be a non-issue. For me, while it’s conceivable that the placement of a Bible in such a display could have been simply a thoughtless act on the part of someone who felt that a mention of God should be part of such a display, the fact that it was done on a number of such displays argues that it was intentional. It still may well have been innocently intended, but it was nonetheless an unnecessary slight to those ‘Missing Men’ who were not Christian or perhaps not believers of any stripe. But you see, when making the decision to put a Bible there rather than a book of poetry or a photo of a child or some other artifact that did not narrow the welcome to those who believe a certain way, it makes a statement that is, perhaps unintentionally, promoting an assumption that the Bible has universal acceptance.

Maintaining the separation of church and state requires a constant and conscious effort and doing so is essential to the understanding that ours is a nation in which all, no matter their belief system, are of equal value and importance.

We take on these issues when we recognize that something is happening that breaches the church/state separation, most often when it is called to our attention by someone who is personally affected by it. Sometimes what is needed is as simple as a call or letter to a person in a responsible position. Sometimes, however, it is not quite so simple and requires a more forceful approach. You see, while quite often the problem arises from a thoughtless act by someone to whom it doesn’t occur that whatever is in question might be hurtful to others, there are in fact forces on the other side with a serious agenda – from their perspective one driven by commandments from heaven – that are hard at work trying to make America a Christian country and our military “The Lord’s Army.”

We stand against those forces, be they simple thoughtlessness or people with a serious theocratic agenda, because the result of both is the same: damage to the freedoms we Americans cherish.

Apparently we disagree on whether or not some of the issues that confront us are serious enough to take on. Disagreement is understandable. But for you to suggest that because you don’t see the problems our clients do as serious, that it means we have somehow become a frivolous organization is not something I can let stand without a response.

You are welcome to send your contributions anywhere you’d like. But I do hope you’ll give more thought to the assertions you’ve made here.

Mike Farrell

(MRFF Board of Advisors)

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1 Comment

  1. Paula

    Oh, c’mon, (name withheld)! Let’s talk honestly for a second, shall we? I suspect you never have supported MRFF as they truly are, not in the past, not now, and likely will not in the future. Your support has been for your image of MRFF and their mission–pure imagination on your part. Everything’s been fine and dandy as long as MRFF plays by your rules and does what you suppose is their reason for existence. But when they focus on another part of their mission, you turn tail and take off like a bunny, all the while loudly blaming MRFF for your disillusionment. Guess what? You and you alone are responsible for your attitudes, your loyalties, your integrity. If you choose to sell your soul to the highest bidder, don’t blame MRFF for the exorbitant price.

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