Hello, Colonel Feltman,
My name is Mikey Weinstein and I am the Founder and President of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF). MRFF is a civil rights nonprofit advocacy organization which currently represents well over 47,000 United States sailors,soldiers, marines and airmen as well as national guard, reservists and veterans in matters regarding unconstitutional church/state violations tragically occurring in the U.S. military.
Sir, it is my unhappy duty to inform you that the unit you now command, the 310th Space Wing, is currently harboring and encouraging a truly abhorrent example of First Amendment civil rights violations as described in the complaint letter received by MRFF this evening by the military spokesperson for 33 USAF officers, enlisted personnel, civilians and contractors stationed at Peterson AFB and Schriever AFB. Twenty-one of these 33 USAF personnel, who are now also MRFF clients, are directly under your command at the 310th Space Wing.
So, what is the issue? Let me be brief please, sir.
You see, Colonel Feltman, there is a Major Steve Lewis, who is a supervisor at the Reserve National Security Space Institute (RNSSI) located in the Space Education and Training Center Building at Peterson AFB, who is currently is in open, notorious and hostile violation of the Constitutionally-mandated separation of church and state as outlined in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution, Clause 3, Article VI of the Constitution (No Religious Test” ), its construing Federal caselaw and, quite specifically sir, Air Force Instruction (AFI) 1-1, Sections 2.11 and 2.12.
What is he doing wrong, sir, you may ask? For years he has kept an open, yellow-highlighted Christian bible displayed front and center, quite prominently, on his official USAF work desk in an open office work environment (see photos below). The egregious Constitutional and DoD regulatory violations of such a brazen display of sectarian Christian triumphalism and exceptionalism have been noted by many USAF members through the years but they have not sought to officially seek redress and remediation from this outrageous display of callous and bold Christian primacy from their respective USAF chains of command due to all-too-credible fears of reprisal and retribution from same. Notwithstanding this well justified fear, earlier this year this sordid matter of Major Lewis’ unconstitutional, Christian bible display was, in point of fact, directly raised by USAF personnel in an official “Climate Survey” under the auspices of the RNSSI’s Commander, Col. Lisa Johnson. Sadly, no mention whatsoever of this critical concern was EVER mentioned by Colonel Johnson or any of her staff in discussing the results of this “Climate Survey” which had been designed to measure the unit’s relative good order, morale, discipline and unit cohesion.
Colonel Feltman, sir, I will not belabor the point. On behalf of its 33 USAF member clients, MRFF now demands that you order this Major Steve Lewis to immediately take down his Christian biblical display from his official USAF desktop. It is fine, of course, if he wishes to keep his Christian bible, replete with yellow-highlighted verses, in a desk or office drawer or even in a handy, nearby office bookcase but NOT open, yellow-highlighted and at the very epicenter of his USAF work desk for all of his helpless subordinates and many others to view continuously on a daily basis.
Sir, let me fairly ask you something which may help buttress and illuminate the disgusting illegality of Major Lewis’ actions of Christian religious intolerance as obviously validated and endorsed by his USAF boss, Colonel Lisa Johnson. To wit, Colonel Feltman, can you even IMAGINE the limitless, overflowing blood in the streets which would immediately occur if, say, another USAF official chose to similarly display, just as Major Steve Lewis presently exhibits his open and yellow-highlighted Christian bible in the very center of his official USAF desk, other sectarian, theological texts such as The Satanic Bible, the Islamic Quran, the Hindu Shruti, the Sikh Adi Granth and the Atheist movement’s leading texts such as Richards Dawkins’ “The God Delusion”, the late Christopher Hitchens’ “God is Not Great” or Sam Harris’ “The End of Faith”? Can you seriously not see MRFF’s crystal clear, rational and reasonable point here, Colonel Feltman?
Colonel Feltman, please carefully read the e-mail which will follow below from a MRFF client and USAF member directly under your command, sir. By separate e-mails, which will immediately follow the transmission of this instant e-mail, I will send you AFI 1-1, Sections 2.11 and 2.12 both of which are currently being flagrantly violated by Major Lewis with the clear, complicit support of Colonel Johnson, his direct supervisor.
I will also send you one of the most important holdings of the seminal, 1974 U.S. Supreme Court case, Parker v. Levy, 417 U.S. 733, authored by none other than the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist, one of the most conservative Chief Justices in the entire history of the U.S. Supreme Court. That case makes it clear that the First Amendment rights (to include religious expression rights) of those in the U.S. military, such as Major Steve Lewis, may be severely limited and curtailed as required to ensure the compelling governmental interest of maximizing military good order, morale, discipline and unit cohesion. The civilian counterparts to military members face no such constitutionally allowable restrictions due to the fact that the armed forces is a “specialized society”, as opined by Chief Justice Rehnquist.
Lastly, sir, I will also send you something else quite significantly important. It is the momentous and most recent holding by the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces in the watershed case of United States v. Monifa J. Sterling, Lance Corporal, Crim App. No. 201400150, which was released scarcely more than 100 hours ago on Wednesday, August 10, 2016. In this impactful decision which is incredibly applicable to the instant, illicit actions of Major Steve Lewis and his Christian biblical desk “static display”, the Court of Appeals affirmed the Bad Conduct Discharge of former USMC Lance Corporal Monifa Sterling for, inter alia, refusing the orders of her superiors to remove the posting of alleged biblical citations in her personal USMC cubicle workspace.
Colonel Feltman, sir, in reiteration and on behalf of its clients, MRFF demands that you take immediate, official action to thoroughly investigate the grievances of Christian religious oppression of MRFF’s 33 clients as a result of Major Steve Lewis’ Christian biblical display. MRFF demands that you order Major Steve Lewis to remove his Christian bible display forthwith from his official USAF desktop workspace and that, pending the results of the investigation, both he and his direct supervisor, Colonel Lisa Johnson, be swiftly, visibly and aggressively punished for allowing this long-running, repulsive violation of USAF regulations and bedrock Constitutional law to fatally poison the Command Climate in the RNSSI, an Air Force unit directly under your command, sir.
Thank you in advance for your kind cooperation to expeditiously right this glaringly unlawful wrong, Colonel.
Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein, Esq.
Founder and President, Military Religious Freedom Foundation