inquiry

I am inquiring as to why this organization was demonstrating at Fort Riley recently which I understand aided in the cancellation by the Army of a prayer breakfast by a Lt. General.
If so, for what reason and purpose were the organizations motive.  Also, is this an atheist organization?
Thank you.
(name withheld)

Dear (name withheld),

Our organization was not “demonstrating,” as you suggest. Consistent with our mission and at the request of  many of the officers and enlisted on the base, we communicated to the commanding officer at Fort Riley our objection to an invitation to a known homophobe, Islamophobe and Christian-supremacist to speak at a military-sponsored event there. Putting the US military in the position of endorsing such objectionable speech would violate both the law and military regulations.

After consideration, the event was re-scheduled as the post command recognized its mistake and Mr. Boykin was not re-invited.

No, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation is not an “atheist organization.” Why do you ask?

Best,

Mike Farrell

(MRFF Board of Advisors)


Good Afternoon –

Thanks for writing to the MRFF to ask your questions. Mikey Weinstein has read your email and asked me to provide a response. In addition to being an MRFF supporter, I’m also a lifelong, committed, and active Christian, a USAF Academy graduate, and a veteran USAF officer.
To begin with your last question — No, the MRFF is not an atheist organization. In fact, we’re not a religious organization of any sort. We are a Constitutional advocacy group dedicated to ensuring that all members of the United States Armed Forces fully receive the Constitutional guarantees of religious freedom to which they and all Americans are entitled by virtue of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The ranks of our volunteers, staff, supporters, and clients are comprised of people with a plurality of religious beliefs (including non-belief).  Most of that population is people of faith, however, the majority being Christians. And all of that population is good, honorable, patriotic Americans.
Regarding the recent situation at Ft Riley — First, a clarification. We did not ‘demonstrate’ per se, in the sense of physically gathering in protest. We raised our concerns via the written word.  Also, we did not oppose the prayer breakfast itself, but instead raised concerns about the choice of speaker. We opposed the selection of Gen Boykin as speaker due to his past controversial and inappropriate conduct as a uniformed, senior US military leader.  As you may know, our military leaders are proscribed by both law and regulation from using their position or the color of their authority to advance a personal religious agenda. This doesn’t mean that there is any restriction upon their personal beliefs, but rather that there are some reasonable limits on the time, place, and manner in which a military leader promotes those personal beliefs. In the strict hierarchical structure of the military, these limits are both reasonable and necessary in order to ensure that subordinate military members are able to live and work in an environment which is neutral with regard to religion, and which provides a level playing field to the religious beliefs (including non-belief) of every military member at every rank and level.
Gen Boykin, in the view of the MRFF, is a terrible choice to speak at an event which is ostensibly ecumenical in nature. He has in the past made public statements, while in full uniform, that have made clear his belief that his particular religious beliefs should be given prominence and preference. Again, he is entitled to believe such a thing, but not entitled to use the color of his authority as a military leader to promote it.
That’s the essence of why we objected. Hope this information is helpful.  Thanks again for writing to the MRFF.
Peace,
Mike Challman
Christian, USAF veteran, MRFF supporter

 

 

Share this page:

Commenter Account Access

  • Register for a commenter account
    (Not required to post comments, but will save you time if you're a regular commenter)
  • Log in using your existing account
  • Click here to edit your profile and change your password
  • All comments are subject to our Terms of Use

2 Comments

  1. Hassan Colon

    I have a doubt regarding religious activities in the Army.

    Every morning my Commander instruct us to pray in formation, then he give a speech about Jesus and why we must follow Jesus path.

    I’m not a religious Soldier, but I cannot find anything in the Army policies that can help me explain to him that he’s wrong, can you help me on that?

  2. Connie

    Hassan,

    Pastor Joan has reams of information regarding your situation. However, what may serve you best is to call the MRFF. They will keep your identity secret so you are not punished for standing up for yourself.

    I hope all goes well with you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*