FEATURED EMAIL – Overachievers

Dear Michael Weinstein;

I am writing this e-mail to you, asking that you truly carry out the mission that your home page proclaims.  Please stop using it as a cover-up to just outright attack Christianity.   I accept the fact that you Proclaim to be an atheist, but if your organization operates truly by the words of the First Amendment, then you will stop attacking people who are Christians.  I have friends who are Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, agnostic, and atheist, and I don’t attack any tenant or belief system that they have, although I am a Christian.   If all your organization is doing is making certain that no religion is forced down the throat of others, who disagree or practice another religion, or choose to embrace no religion, then I completely understand.  But, if you are you are using your organization, as a cloak of deceit, to single out and attack Christianity, then you should be so ashamed of yourself, that you will immediately change your policies and practices.   Thanks for your attention to my concerns, tho I’m fairly certain you won’t take time to respond.

Sincerely

(name withheld)


Dear (name withheld),

Thank you for contacting us with your concerns. We do respond to the emails we get.

 

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 of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) are Christians. In fact, 96% of our 45,500+ 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.

 

They are so busy talking about First Amendment rights but are willfully neglecting the first part.

 

“If all your organization is doing is making certain that no religion is forced down the throat of others, who disagree or practice another religion, or choose to embrace no religion, then I completely understand.”

 

That is exactly what we do and as defenders of the Constitution we fight for the separation of church and state.

 

“…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.

 

Sadly, some of our soldiers are being penalized in many ways for not being a Christian or not being “Christian enough.” They only want the fundamental dominionist Christians in the military.

 

“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.

 

The Supreme Court heard the Lemon v. Kurtzman case in 1971 and ruled in favor of the Establishment Clause.

 

Subsequent 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

 

To place the Christian God above all others is in violation of Reynolds v. U.S., Lemon v. Kurtzman, the Lemon Test and Parker v. Levy.

 

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

 

This means that though the military is made up of mostly Christians, that don’t mean they have the right to trample the First Amendment and Civil rights of the other soldiers.

 

These dominionists Christians are the ones that willfully violate the above laws and if other religions violated them, we would be doing the same thing.

 

The media and organizations know the laws above but concentrate on the Free Exercise Clause in a deceptive way in order to claim a “war on Christianity” in order to advance the Seven Mountains Mandate and turn our country into a theocracy.

 

I hope this answers your questions.

 

Blessings,

 

Joan Slish

MRFF Advisory Board Member


Dear (name withheld),

I see that you have or may have had a conversation with Mikey. If so, this response is superfluous and I’m sorry to bother you. If the conversation has not yet happened, though, let me try to clarify things a bit in the hope that your confusion about who and what the MRFF is can be resolved.

A lot is said and written about the MRFF. In certain circles it is almost always biased and ill-intended, I’m sorry to say, so it’s good of you to want to hear our side of the story.

Many people are confused by the First Amendment, the concept of freedom of religion and the separation of church and state. That’s certainly fair. But it’s important, when one doesn’t understand something, to try to fairly and objectively search out information that can help clear up the confusion. In too many cases, some find it easier to leap to conclusions and make judgments. In a number of cases they go to sources whose information is not unbiased and it strengthens their worst assumptions.

I’m glad, that being the case, that you wrote us and tried, at least, to get our side.

So. We are not using our declared mission as a coverup or excuse to attack Christianity. Over 95% of those associated with the MRFF are themselves Christians. They are not, however, the kind of Christians who insist that their views, their belief about Jesus and their particular doctrine are the one and only true Christianity and that all others are false. They are devoted Christians who not only understand that others can have different views, perhaps different faith beliefs or even no faith belief at all, and still deserve to be respected as human beings who happen to believe differently.

Though there are probably a fair number of MRFF supporters who are atheists, they do not recruit or proselytize, as that is not what the MRFF is about. It is, as advertised, about believing the business of belief or non-belief is a private matter and no one in a position of authority over others in our military should be, whether intentionally or carelessly, promoting one belief system over another.

If you’ve spoken to Mikey you may already have had the question answered to your satisfaction, but in my opinion he is not an atheist but a man of very deep belief.

Our purpose is not to attack people who are Christians, atheists, scientologists, Jews or people of any belief or non-belief. I wouldn’t support the organization if that were true. We certainly do object to the more vicious attacks on us or on others by religious totalitarians who rage and condemn and sometimes, I can tell you, the exchanges can become very ugly. But from my perspective the things said from this side are critical of the invective and dishonesty we are faced with rather than the individual’s belief. In our view, he or she is welcome to believe whatever she/he chooses. But in the US military they are not free to impose it on others.

From the way you describe yourself, you appear to be an open person who is comfortable with his belief system and not threatened by people who see things differently. I couldn’t be happier to hear that.

We feel the same way.

I hope you’ve had a chance to speak with Mikey. I think that will be a great experience for you.

And if you have any questions or concerns about anything I’ve said or not said that leaves you unsure, please feel free to write again.

Best,

Mike Farrell


Good afternoon Mr. Farrell;

Thanks so much for your timely and accurate response to my original e-mail to Mikey Weinstein.  (After reviewing it, my apologies, for its slight abrasive tone)  🙂   I did speak w/Mikey at length this afternoon, and was greatly relieved, that some of my original assumptions about the Military Religious Freedom Organization, are indeed incorrect, and pretty much opposite of what your organization is about.  I greatly enjoyed our conversational exchange, and realized that both of us have had instilled in us, the long standing desire to take up for those who are subjected to bullying techniques, whether it be physical, verbal, sexual harassment, etc. ad infinitum.  My father raised me to always take up for those, who are the victims of bullying.  I retired honorably from the U.S. Army, as a Staff Sergeant, had good bosses, not so great bosses, and mediocre bosses, but whether I was a team leader, squad leader, or platoon sergeant, I always sought to treat each of those individuals subordinate to me, w/respect, fairness, and the willingness to go to bat for them, if they were in the right, every single time.   I would like to offer a heartfelt thanks, for what I now believe to be the heart of your organization, and that is to represent each person, each organization, equally, and to the letter of the law, and within the entire premise of our great First Amendment.    I believe in closing, that I am free to be me, as long as my freedoms don’t infringe upon yours, (and I’m not breaking the law) and vice-versa, every single time.    Whether you’re Islamic, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Agnostic, Atheist, Poly-theist,etc, gay, straight, bi-sexual, rich, poor, from Kabul, or St. Louis, if you’re in the military, and are at the right place, at the right time, with the right uniform, ready to do your job, I commend you, and would always fight for your right to party. ( Oh wait, that’s Twisted Sister.  LOL)   Seriously, we as a nation, need to concentrate on these things that bring us to together in unity, and applaud our differences, which is a portion of why our nation was founded.  Remember:  It’s always okay, to agree to disagree.   But, in the case of the this fine organization that stands up for those who sometimes don’t think that they have a voice, or anyone to represent, and/or rescue them,  I applaud you, and your continuing efforts.
Sincerely;
(name withheld)
P.S.  Thanks so much B.J. Honeycutt, for being a humble human being, willing to give freely of  yourself and abilities, for what I’ve very recently come to believe, is an incredible humanitarian organization.  And I guess my only claim to fame, is I was priviledged to play the piano and sing for Wayne Newton on his USO tour on Yongsan Army Base, in Seoul, Korea.  It remains to be seen if he thought it an entertaining performance. Ha
Pss.    As I told Mikey, I am highly interested in serving in a volunteer capacity w/you guys, and possible if needed a recompensed position in the future.    Have a great remainder of the week.


Good Day, (name withheld) –

Thanks for your note to the MRFF. Mikey Weinstein has read your email, as he does all correspondence we receive, and has asked me to offer a reply. In addition to being a staunch supporter of the MRFF, I’m also a lifelong Christian, a USAF Academy graduate (’85), and a veteran USAF officer.
First thing to understand is that we are not an atheist organization; we’re not a religious organization of any type.  Rather, we are a Constitutional advocacy group. In fact, the vast majority of MRFF supporters and clients are people of faith, mostly Christians. What unites those of us who are religious with other good and honorable men and women who don’t share our personal beliefs is a desire to uphold Constitutional principles. I understand why you are concerned that we seem to pick on Christians, but the reality is that we oppose inappropriate actions and not the beliefs of the actor. Unfortunately, more often than not it is some of our fellow Christians who are acting inappropriately. There is a small but very active subset of Christians who believe it is their mission to inculcate our governmental institutions, including our military, with their version of Christian doctrine.  This particular brand of believer is most accurately called a Dominionist Christian — it’s a label they usually don’t like, but it’s accurate.
The MRFF stands in firm opposition to dominionist-type activity on the part of military leaders of ANY conceivable belief or non-belief. It is not the particular belief to which we are opposed, it is the actions that seek to promote or favor a belief at an inappropriate time, place or manner.
So don’t believe everything you read and hear from the conservative media. The MRFF is regularly misrepresented by this group.   But as you have said yourself in the email you sent to us — “If all your organization is doing is making certain that no religion is forced down the throat of others, who disagree or practice another religion, or choose to embrace no religion, then I completely understand.”  I couldn’t state it any better myself, that is exactly what we are doing on behalf of all military members of all levels and ranks and of all manner of belief and non-belief.
Thanks again for taking the time to write. If you have more questions or if you want to discuss any aspect of this topic further, I’d welcome the opportunity to do so — just drop me a note anytime.
Peace,
Mike Challman
Christian, USAF veteran, MRFF supporter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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