We are united, you and I

You cancelled the Prayer breakfast? Please, America NEEDS God, indeed we were founded by believers in Jesus Christ. Don’t insult Him, please. You are all my brothers and sisters in Christ. Let us PLEASE unite and be STRONG and make America great again. Please. I love you guys.

(name withheld)


Dear (name withheld),
Thank you for wording your email in a very kind way instead of the hate mail and death threats we usually get.
 
We have no authority to cancel a prayer breakfast. All we did was give them the facts concerning Lt. Gen. Boykin that they were not aware of. After fact-checking our information they cancelled the Prayer Breakfast:
 
“Lt. Gen. (Ret) Boykin’s credentials as a Soldier and leader speak for themselves and his 36 years of service to our nation are worthy of our respect,” Chief Public Affairs NCO MSG Mike Lavigne told me in a statement. “However, in an effort to ensure everyone in our broad and very diverse community feels welcome at any event on Fort Riley, we will pursue the invitation of a different speaker for the prayer breakfast once it is rescheduled.”
 
Lt. Gen. Boykin is an Islamophobe, anti-Semitic, anti-LGBT, Commander-in-Chief basher, hateful, Dominionist Christian and believes that our military is Christian and all of our wars are holy wars.
 
The very people he hates are some of the soldiers at Ft. Riley and for him to speak at a Christian prayer breakfast will cause division and hatred on base.
 
Army Secretary Eric Fanning is the first openly gay leader of any U.S. military branch. While serving in the Obama administration, Fanning has been the acting secretary of the Air Force and deputy undersecretary of the Navy. He also served as special assistant to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter. 
 
Though Boykin is retired, he espouses his military record to get speaking engagements. To invite him to speak on an Army base against the Secretary of the Army concerning his gay lifestyle is egregious, against military protocol and against Eric Fanning’s Civil Rights.
 
On September 12, 2011 “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was repealed and Boykin should not be allowed to drag this back up. It is settled.
 
Here are just a few of the things he has said:
 
Boykin’s anti-Muslim statements go back to 2003 when, as deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence, he spoke in uniform (against military law) at a number of churches making statements that we were in a holy war with Islam.
 
We are not in a holy war because we are not a theocracy.
 
The most infamous of these anti-Muslim statements was when he said, referring to battling a Muslim warlord in Somalia: 
“I knew my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol.”
 
At another one of these church appearances, he compared the war on terror to a Christian war against Satan.
Boykin’s making these statements in uniform (against military law) led to a Pentagon investigation, which found that he had violated military regulations by failing to make clear he was not speaking in an official capacity when speaking at these churches.
 
Boykin was also publicly rebuked by President Bush for his anti-Muslim statements:
 
Boykin publicly stated in 2010 that Islam “should not be protected under the First Amendment” because “those following the dictates of the Quran are under an obligation to destroy our Constitution and replace it with sharia law.”
 
Every American citizen – regardless of their faith – is protected under the First Amendment whether he likes it or not.
 
In 2012, Boykin was forced to withdraw from speaking at a prayer breakfast at West Point because of his Islamophobic statements:
In 2014, he was caught on a hot mic accusing President Obama of using “subliminal messages” to promote the agenda of al-Qaeda.
He has also, on many occasions, spread conspiracy theories about President Obama, such as claiming that Obama, through health care legislation, intended to raise a force that he compared to the Nazi Brownshirts:
 
In 2014, he said while speaking at one event that Jesus would be coming back toting an AR-15:
“The Lord is a warrior and in Revelation 19 it says when he comes back, he’s coming back as what? A warrior. A might warrior leading a mighty army, riding a white horse with a blood-stained white robe … I believe that blood on that robe is the blood of his enemies ‘cause he’s coming back as a warrior carrying a sword. And I believe now – I’ve checked this out – I believe that sword he’ll be carrying when he comes back is an AR-15.”
 
He also “jokingly” blamed the Jews for all the world’s problems, saying, “The Jews are the problem. The Jews are the cause of all the problems in the world.”
 
Just a little anti-Semitic?
 
In addition to his bigoted Islamophobic and antisemitic remarks, he has also made anti-LGBT statements, among other things calling the military’s repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” the “absolute destruction of our military readiness and our military morale.”
 
This has not happened.
 
“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.
 
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 myselfto 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, Ecclesiastical Endowments
 
“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.
 
The Constitution and subsequent Supreme Court rulings uphold the separation of church and state and prohibits any government entity – which includes our military – from supporting or advancing any religion.
 
We are not against anyone practicing their faith but it must be done according the time, place and manner.
 
We love you, too, (name withheld)!
 
May God bless your socks off!
 
Your sister in Christ,
 
Joan Slish
MRFF Advisory Board Member

Hi (name withheld),

I appreciate what you’ve said here, but nothing we’ve done regarding Mr. Boykin is about people’s relationship with God. It’s about refusing to have the U.S. military endorse and promote hatred and bigotry. Mr. Boykin’s views, no matter how strongly he may believe them, do not reflect either the law, military regulations or the teachings of Christianity.

We’re happy to unite with anyone of any religious or non-religious belief system who is interested in promoting brotherhood, sisterhood and peace, but the hatred Mr. Boykin sends into the world does none of those things. He is welcome to his opinions, of course, but they cannot be presented as representative of the U.S. Armed Forces.

And, to be clear, we are not concerned with “mak(ing) America great again.” We are concerned with keeping America as great as it always has been.

Best to you.

Mike Farrell

(MRFF Board of Advisors)


 Good Afternoon, (name withheld) –

Thanks for taking the time to write to the MRFF. Mikey Weinstein has read your email as he does all correspondence to the MRFF and asked me to provide a response, which I’m happy to do. In addition to being a staunch supporter of the MRFF, I’m also a lifelong, committed, and active Christian, a USAF Academy graduate (’85), and a veteran USAF officer.
We actually didn’t cancel the prayer breakfast, nor did we ask that it be cancelled. We only raised what I believe are valid concerns about the choice of speaker at the event, and Fr Riley leadership, upon further review of the areas of concern identified by the MRFF, agreed that Gen Boykin would not be an appropriate choice.
As well, you won’t get any disagreement from me about needing God, but you will get disagreement to the notion that our nation was “founded by believers in Jesus Christ.”  While our founding generation did include many Christians, it also included individuals whose religious beliefs departed from that point. Even more importantly, our founding generation crafted a Constitution makes no mention of God or religion at all, except where is limits the ability of our government to establish or favor any particular religious belief and where is protects the rights of individual Americans with respect to the same.
Your note doesn’t indicate whether or not you have a military background. If you do, then like me you understand that military society is very different from civilian society. Because of the hierarchical nature of the military, freedoms and privileges that civilians take for granted are not always available in the same manner to military members.  You also understand if you are a current or former military member that the ranks of America’s military are comprised of brave patriots who hold a wide variety of religious beliefs, including non-belief. Every one of those soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen are entitled to live and work in an environment where each of their particular beliefs is equally respected and protected.  That is the reason for the existence of the MRFF – to advocate on behalf of military members who cannot easily speak for themselves.
Hope this information helps. Thanks again for taking the time to write to the MRFF.
Peace,
Mike Challman
Christian, USAF veteran, MRFF supporter

 

 

 

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