Unconstitutional Violation of AFI 1-1, 2.11, 2.12

From: Mikey Weinstein
Subject: Unconstitutional Violation of AFI 1-1, 2.11, 2.12
Date: August 14, 2016 at 10:12:04 PM MDT
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.

Sincerely,

Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein, Esq.
Founder and President, Military Religious Freedom Foundation



From: U.S. Air Force Member’s E-Mail Address Withheld
Subject: Unconstitutional Violation of AFI 1-1, 2.11, 2.12
Date: August 14, 2016 at 7:36:22 PM MDT


Mr. Weinstein and the MRFF, 
 
 
I request your immediate help with a violation of the separation of church and state in my building that houses three USAF units at Peterson AFB.
 
I am a military member of the USAF and am outrageously offended by the clear display of an open Bible on the duty desk of a field grade officer (Major) in the Reserve National Security Space Institute (RNSSI), Peterson AFB, Colorado, which is part of the 310th Space Wing.  I am a member of this unit.  It has been displayed for years and clearly it is an egregious violation of Air Force Instruction (AFI) 1-1, Sections 2.11 and 2.12.  I am heavily concerned about the perception it places upon any military member or civilian that enters the wide open desk area where the impossible-to-miss display is and the perception it offers to members of the Space Education and Training Center (SETC) which houses three units including the RNSSI, and the approximately 3000 armed forces students that attend the schoolhouse.
 
Personally, I am intimidated by the display, and I am a practicing Christian.  I can only imagine how it must make military members and civilians who are not Christians, like myself, feel. It shows that this military work center is an area for sectarian religious statements and displays of Christian dominance, rather than the USAF mission goal of “service before self”.  I ensured that I wrote this bible display up during the unit’s annual unit climate survey, yet it was not addressed by the chain of command at all, which I believe sends a strong message that the display of Christian supremacy is perfectly ok within the unit, and that, in fact, it is preferred or encouraged.  
 
I personally have heard a number of other military and civilian members of this Air Force building complain about this display, but nothing is said towards the unit’s chain of command because the appearance is that the chain of command supports this display and that serious reprisal actions would be taken against those who openly complain.  Frankly, this open display of the bible is discrimination at the highest level, and I also believe that the member who openly defies and displays the Bible like this, only serves to put it out there to put forth a message that he himself is Christian, and that he openly defies AFI 1-1, Sections 2.11 and 2.12, because no one will dare question him or the command staff since they are “the desired type of Christian” as well.
 
In this day and age, and with a concrete AFI behind it, I find this to be a blatant case of Christian defiance and Christian discrimination.  I say this, again, as a devout Christian myself. I have tried to ask senior members of the unit and other units in the SETC for advice on what to do, and they have stated that anyone who raises issues tends to be struck down and hurt professionally or personally or both.  The official comments that were pushed through a climate survey were completely ignored by our command chain.  I believe that asking for the intervention of MRFF is the final chance at finding a reasonable resolution, because I do believe there is absolute discrimination in this USAF unit by those in senior leadership and command positions who push a certain type of proselytizing Christianity upon those who are not as senior in rank and position. They do this openly because they think there is nothing any of us can do to fight back against the command-endorsed Christian bullying without facing retribution.
 
The below photos were taken on 7 August 16 in Room 237 of the Space and Education Training Center, 236 Paine St, Peterson AFB, CO.
 
I want to thank the MRFF for its assistance in this matter.  I thought the stories I read about the MRFF helping units would never hit home until I saw this open display of defiance.  I did not realize this problem would ever happen in my unit, but here we are….and I am glad that I have an advocate to help solve this problem because I do not have any reasonable trust in my own unit leadership to handle it.

(USAF Member’s name, rank and AFSC all withheld)

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