The emphasis on religion

Good Morning MRFF,
>>
>> I am an active duty Marine, and an atheist.
>>
>> What I have noticed in many of your organization’s replies to hostile Christians is something along the lines of “the majority of the MRFF staff is religious, and the majority of our active duty clients is religious.” I would just like to point out the flaw in this response and how it technically evades the original “hater’s” argument.
>>
>> If someone states that the MRFF are a bunch of ungodly heathens, then it should be made clear that there is nothing wrong with being an atheist or not believing in god in addition pointing to the fact that most of you guys are not. There appears to be an element of pleasing or attempting to please the hostile Christian by saying “look, we are just like you.”
>>
>> I understand the media implications, however, if your organization was to publically support the atheist voice. Atheists are often ranked the lowest of the low, the scummiest of the scum, by the American populace.
>>
>> I hope through this short email you can come to see how I view the way your organization fights. I still have great confidence. If my command were to implement an event with undue religious slant, you guys would be the first ones I would contact.
>>
>> Very Respectfully,

(name withheld)


Response from MRFF Special Assistant to the President , Director of US Army Affairs Blake Page

Dear (name withheld),

I agree with you.  I’m an atheist myself, and it feels strange to me personally telling detractors, press, or military leadership the ‘Christian numbers’ so often.  It’s a defensive thing to say which I don’t find useful in personal conversations, but…

There is a popular myth that MRFF is an atheist organization, and an even more popular myth that secularism is antithetical to freedom of religion.  However bizarre to people like us who understand the definition of the word and spirit of the law, a massive segment of the population (even many atheists who’ve written to us over the years) sincerely believe that our mission is to snuff out religion.  Probably no surprises for you there.

We have a large toolkit when it comes to addressing detractors, endeavoring to recruit supporters, being interviewed by reporters, or feeding the troll entertainers at Fox or other outlets. That last one especially is where you’ll see us stress our Christian teammates and clientele.  We probably won’t convince the person across the table, but by slipping that information into media it stays a part of the public record, blatantly demonstrating that those saying we’re Islamist, Marxist, atheist, pagan, patriarchal, feminist, hydrophobic, free-divers have invented the contradictory shadow of a  straw man that they hate so much.  We have defended people from all backgrounds. It’s undeniable.

When people say we’re a bunch of ungodly heathens, the first thing I want to say is “well fuck you for thinking there’s anything wrong with that!” (Which I often do come to think of it), but it’s an untrue statement.  I am an ungodly heathen.  Joan is pastor, Mark is a lifelong Christian, Mikey is Jagnostic. And the list goes on.  A big hodgepodge.

Hope this made sense.  If you’ve got any other questions or suggestions, feel free to write anytime.

Cheers,

Blake A Page
Military Religious Freedom Foundation
Special Assistant to the President
Director of US Army Affairs


 

Thank you Mikey and Blake. I really appreciate the quick and detailed response!
(name withheld)

 Response from MRFF Atheist Affairs Advisor Dustin Chalker
Hi (name withheld),
Unlike most of the staff with MRFF, I am not religious. I believe you’ve misinterpreted the intentions of my friends’ comments, and perhaps projected something that wasn’t there. I see a lot of these messages daily and I wouldn’t consider their statements to be “appeasement”. I think the intent is to convey that secularism in government can be a shared value that religious and non-religious alike share. The people we are responding to don’t understand this, and naturally equate theism with theocracy. Clearing up that simple misconception is a much more attainable goal and much more beneficial to our mission than engaging in the futile effort to convince fundamentalists to change their views about atheists. When dealing with infantile minds, we’ve got to take baby steps. ?
Regards,
Dustin Chalker
MRFF Atheist Affairs Advisor

 Response from MRFF Supporter Mike Challman
 Good Afternoon, (name withheld) –

Thanks for taking the time to write to the MRFF.  As you already know, Mikey Weinstein has read your email, and he has asked me to respond.  I’m a USAF veteran who has actively supported the MRFF for the past several years.
Your comments are valid and appreciated;  I’d like to provide a bit of perspective about the message that we try to convey to critics and supporters alike when we talk about the nature of beliefs among our constituency.  The comments about a high percentage of MRFF staff, supporters, and clients being religiously-minded is in no way intended to suggest that we are on the ‘right’ side of some religious sensibility, and it’s certainly not an effort to please our critics.  Rather, it’s offered as a statement of fact, generally as a correction to critics who dismiss us as an organization that wants to eliminate religion (specifically, Christianity) from our military.  Unfortunately, much of what is published about the MRFF wrongly asserts that we are trying to keep Christians (and other religious military members) from practicing their faith, so it’s sometimes important that we correct that misconception.  We are not anti-religion, we are pro-Constitution.
For what it’s worth, I’m actually a Christian myself, but my work in support of the MRFF is driven by my belief in the importance of protecting Constitutional principles.  Many of my fellow Christians dismiss me as a lousy Christian because of that — doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I have equally strong options of some of them.
So again, as an organization the MRFF mission is very clear — we support the Constitutional rights of military members of every manner of belief and non-belief.  In that sense, I always find it important to emphasize to people that we are neither a religious or atheistic organization of any stripe…. rather we are a Constitutional advocacy organization.  And in that role, we do publically and unequivocally support the rights of military members who are atheists, agnostics, and religious.
I’m very glad to hear that you would not hesitate to contact us if your command were to cross the line with respect to official neutrality about religious belief.  Hope that never happens to you, but please know that we stand ready to assist whenever needed.
Thanks again for writing, hope that my perspective is helpful.
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

No Comments

Start the ball rolling by posting a comment on this article!

Leave a Reply

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

*