Prayers

You folks seem so openly hostile to any form of worship, especially Christianity. I read  news items where you people actually propose throwing people in prison for expressing their love for Jesus. Very sad, and unconstitutional by the way. My First Amendment rights will not be taken away by anyone, not even your group. I will continue to express my beliefs wherever and whenever I choose. I will be praying for you all. Praying to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the one true God. 

(name withheld)


Response by MRFF Advisory Board Member Joan Slish

Dear (name withheld),

Where did you hear such nonsense that we want to put civilians “in prison for expressing their love for Jesus” or we are trying to stop you from “expressing your beliefs wherever and whenever you choose?”
 
You have been lied to by omissions and distortions from personalities, organizations and the media that knows better.
 
Contrary to what you may have been told 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 (330 in total) of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) are Christians. In fact, 96% of our 50,100+ military clients are mainline Christians.
 
In 2005, Major Chaplain James Linzey said on a video “Remember, the demons believe in Jesus Christ. They believe in the truth — see that’s Jesus Christ — and they tremble… They are as scared as little tiny mice running up and down the curtains in the cathedrals. Now, they’re in the cathedrals. They’re in the churches. They’re controlling pulpits. That’s how mainstream Protestantism has declined. Because they invaded the churches, and the mainstream Protestant churches stopped hearing the truth. So they want to squelch the truth by taking over the church. Now, this is not in my notes, but I was inspired by God because these are demonic, dastardly creatures from the pit of hell, and we need to stomp them out.”
 
We fight for these mainline Christians more than anyone.
 
Check out our mission statement to know us better.
 
Check out the honorable and distinguished military personnel whom we rely on for their expertise on religious neutrality in the military:
 
We are defenders of the Separation of Church and State in the Constitution, Supreme Court rulings and the UCMJ.
 
“…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.
“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
 
AFI (Air Force Instruction) 1-1, Section 2.12:
 2.12. Balance of Free Exercise of Religion and Establishment Clause. Leaders at all levels must balance constitutional protections for their own free exercise of religion, including individual expressions of religious beliefs, and the constitutional prohibition against governmental establishment of religion. They must ensure their words and actions cannot reasonably be construed to be officially endorsing or disapproving of, or extending preferential treatment for any faith, belief, or absence of belief. 
 
We do not act on our own but on the complaints we receive from service members when the above laws are broken.
 
Should they be punished for breaking our laws by the exultation of Christianity over other religions in our secular military? Absolutely!
 
We don’t have a theocracy in our military, yet, where our service members are “Warriors for Christ,” every war is a religious war and our military logo is the Crusaders.
 
The next time there is an incident involving religion in the military (and there will be one) remember the above laws and determine for yourself who the real liars are.
 
I’ll be praying for you, too, that your eyes will be open to the truth about us.
 
Joan Slish
MRFF Advisory Board Member

Response by MRFF Advisory Board Member John Compere
Please be advised that the Military Religious Freedom Foundation is not now nor has never been “openly hostile to any form of worship, especially Christianity”. We represent over 50,000 military members, veterans & civilians employed by the military who have requested that their United States Constitution freedom from government imposed religion be respected & protected. We proudly serve them to insure they have & are not denied this fundamental American liberty. 96% are Christians.
 
Please pray for those military members, veterans & civilians who want to determine & enjoy their own personal religious or non-religious beliefs without government representatives, especially superiors, publicly forcing their religious beliefs upon them while they try to do their jobs & serve our great country. After all, that is the precious right of every American.
 
All military installations have military chapels served by military chaplains where active, reserve & retired military members & their families may worship anytime they choose.
 
Attached is a rational explanation in plain language of the factual, historical & lawful relationship between our Constitution, the military & any religion. We hope you find it informative.
 
Most Sincerely,
John Compere
Brigadier General, US Army (Retired)
MRFF Advisory Board Member
 
 

OUR CONSTITUTION, THE MILITARY & ANY RELIGION

 

The military mission is to defend our nation against its enemies – not promote a religion. The sworn military service oath is to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States…and bear true faith and allegiance to the same” – not to any religion or its writings. The Constitution prohibits our secular government or its representatives (which includes the military) from promoting religion.

 

Military service, funding and pay are public whereas religion is private. Military personnel may privately practice a religion or no religion, but they may not lawfully use their military service, office or position to publicly promote private religious beliefs or impose them on other military members. This problem seldom rises when military leaders demonstrate intelligence, integrity and loyalty to the mission, oath and regulations.

 

Those who disrespect, disregard or deny our Constitution, their sworn service oath and military regulations subject themselves to disciplinary action. Additionally, a basic Constitution class and briefing on the legal significance of their sworn oath need to be mandatory. Those who choose not to support and defend our Constitution, honor their sworn oath or follow military regulations have the right to seek a career in the civilian sector for private pay.

 

The Constitution (1st Amendment) provides 3 basic religious liberties, respectively, for Americans:

 

  1. Freedom from religion – our secular government is prevented from “respecting ” an establishment of religion (promoting, supporting, favoring or endorsing any religion). It is our right to be free from religion imposed by the government or its representatives;

 

  1. Freedom of religion – our secular government is prevented from “prohibiting” free exercise of religion. It is our right to privately practice any religion or no religion provided it does not violate the rights of others. It does not include the right of the government or its representatives to impose religion on us; and

 

  1. Freedom to speak about religion – our secular government is prevented from “abridging” freedom of speech. It is our right to speak publicly about religion provided it does not violate the rights of others. It does not include the right of the government or its representatives to impose religious speech on us.

 

There should be no misunderstanding of the operative verbs in these first three clauses of the 1st Amendment. All one has to do is first read them and then read the definitions of “respecting ”, “prohibiting ” or “abridging ” in any American dictionary.

 

Historic separation of church and state is a fundamental liberty of free people that keeps private religion out of public government and public government out of private religion. It was clearly the intent of our Founders as confirmed by the Constitution, indisputably documented by 3 centuries of public records, acknowledged publicly by every American President since Thomas Jefferson, continuously confirmed by our courts, and permanently embedded in the established law of our land. The Constitution pointedly provides “no religious test ” shall ever be required as a qualification to any public office or public trust (Article VI). It is also significant to note there were no public prayers during the 116 days of the 1787 Constitutional Convention. These are self-evident American truths history deniers and religious revisionists intentionally ignore and deceitfully disregard.

 

Simply stated, we Americans have the right to our own religious or non-religious beliefs, but we must respect the right of others to determine and enjoy their beliefs (common sense clue – the same right we cherish for ourselves). This is timeless universal wisdom predating institutional religion known as the “GOLDEN RULE” and later preached by Jesus in every New Testament version (Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31). The self-righteous obsession of radicalized religionists to publicly force their private religious beliefs on others without extending them this basic human liberty exhibits the height of hypocrisy, rejects all moral teaching and creates continuous conflict.

 

Unfortunately, the wisdom of the late American humorist Will Rogers still applies  – “There is no argument in the world that carries the hatred that a religious belief one does.” (The Best of Will Rogers, Bryan Sterling, M. Evans & Company, 1979, page 193).

 

Founder and 3rd President Thomas Jefferson publicly penned the classic confirmation – “Believing…religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God…legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion’…thus building a wall of separation between church and state.” (Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress, January 1, 1802).

 

The late Republican President Ronald Reagan publicly acknowledged this critical Constitutional liberty in a public speech – “We establish no religion in this country, we command no worship, we mandate no belief, nor will we ever. Church and state are, and must remain, separate.” (Valley Stream, New York, October 26, 1984).

 

Christian evangelist Billy Graham publicly praised constitutional separation of church and state in a sermon – “We enjoy the separation of church and state and no sectarian religion has ever been and we pray God, ever will be imposed upon us.(Washington National Cathedral, 1985).

 

John Compere

Brigadier General, Judge Advocate General’s Corps, US Army (Retired);  disabled American veteran (Vietnam); and Texas rancher.


Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member Mike Farrell

Hello (name withheld),

I’m afraid you’ve been reading some pretty crazy news items. I recommend you try another source for your news. Since most of those associated with the MRFF are Christians, no one here would ever propose something like what you’ve suggested.

Nor is anyone here interested in taking away your constitutional right to holding and expressing your beliefs. We don’t care what religious belief you hold. Our only mission is to see to it that everyone else in the military has the right to believe as she or he chooses.

Some are confused about who we are. Others don’t like our protecting the rights of those in the military because they want to promote their own religious viewpoint and don’t appreciate our interfering with that. You see, according to the law, the Constitution and military regulations, the best way to ensure everyone’s belief is protected is to keep the government from promoting any one faith or belief system over others. It’s called the separation of church and state. That way everyone is free to believe or not believe, as is his or her choice, and no one gets to force her or his belief system on others.

For example, you closed your message to us with an assertion about your own belief system, which is fine. But if you were a military officer and expressed that opinion in an official communication involving those under your authority, that would be contrary to the laws and regulations mentioned above. You’d be free to have and hold your own belief system, but not free to promote your own view to those under your command.

Sometimes that confuses people, but I’m sure you see the point.

Best,

Mike Farrell
(MRFF Board of Advisors)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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