Question

Have you ever served? If you think you represent those of us how have and gave it all up death. Then you are wrong. God has saved my life and protected me more than I deserve. You have a very special place you are going when it’s all over if I end up there so be it I made some decisions that may not been the best in the heat and fog of war. You though man I would hate to be you .

(name withheld)


 

Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member John Compere

 

Dear (name withheld),

The MRFF represents approximately 50,000 loyal & patriotic military, veteran & civilians clients who have requested that their US Constitution freedom from government promoted religion be respected & protected. We proudly serve them to insure they have & are not denied this historic American individual liberty.
 
Attached is a rational explanation in plain language of the factual, historical & lawful relationship between our Constitution, the military & any religion. We hope you will find it informative. Thank you for your inquiry.
 
Most Sincerely,
John Compere
Brigadier General, Judge Advocate General’s Corps, US Army (Retired)
Disabled American Veteran (Vietnam)
MRFF Advisory Board Member
Texas rancher

OUR CONSTITUTION, THE MILITARY & ANY RELIGION

 

The military mission is to defend our nation against its enemies – not promote any 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 a religion or its writings. The US Constitution Bill of Rights (1st Amendment) prohibits our secular government or its representatives (which includes the military) from promoting religion.

 

Religion is private whereas military service, funding and pay are public. 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 arises when military leaders demonstrate intelligence, integrity and loyalty to the mission, oath and regulations.

 

Those who disrespect, disregard or deny our US Constitution, the sworn service oath and military regulations subject themselves to disciplinary action. Additionally, a Constitution introductory 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 regulations have the right to seek a career in the civilian sector for private pay.

 

The United States Constitution Bill of Rights (1st Amendment) provides 3 basic religious liberties, respectively, for all 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 the right of all Americans 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 the right of all Americans to privately practice any religion or no religion provided it does not violate the rights of other Americans. It does not include the right of the government or its representatives to impose religion on Americans; and

 

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

 

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 countless public records over 3 centuries, publicly acknowledged by every American President since Thomas Jefferson, continuously confirmed by our courts, and permanently embedded in the established law of our land. The Constitution also pointedly provides “no religious test ” shall ever be required as a qualification to any public office or public trust (Article VI). These are self-evident American truths history deniers and religious revisionists intentionally ignore and deceitfully dispute.

 

Simply stated, we Americans have the right to our own private 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 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.

 

The late American populist philosopher Will Rogers’ wisdom and warning  remain relevant today – “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 and proclaimed 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 and applauded 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 preached and 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); former Chief Judge, US Army Court of Military Review; disabled American veteran (Vietnam); Military Religious Freedom Foundation Advisory Board Member; and Texas rancher.


 First let me say welcome home I make it a point to welcome home all vets and I mean it to the depth of my being. Being a combat vet of 32 years I just think that wasting time over pictures should not be a priority. Sitting in front of the home of a buddy who was on the phone not wanting to die alone then doing it just seems more important to me, stoping the abuse at the VA, stoping Joe are joet from doing the same just seems more important than stoping a combat team from praying. You, you have the power to do it so do it sir….
(name withheld)

Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member John Compere
Dear (name withheld),
Thank you for responding & your 32 years of military service. Please understand that removing the religion promoting & gender insulting posters was an important priority to those 16 men and women who saw them, observed others seeing them, worked in the headquarters with them & requested our representation in their removal. The posters clearly violated the US Constitution, long settled law of our land & USAF regulations. That is why we represented them, requested their removal & the USAF removed them.
 
Sincerely,
John Compere 

Response from MRFF Supporter Mike Challman

Good Afternoon,  (name withheld) –

Thanks for taking the time to write to the MRFF, and thank you for your service.
Yes, I have served as a USAF officer.  In fact, a great many of us who support the efforts of the MRFF are either former or current military.  Some of us are also graduates of military academies (in my own case, USAFA Class of ’85).  So rest assured, when we talk about military service, we speak from a position of direct experience. Your email indicates you are a man of faith — blessings for that. I am a lifelong Christian myself and, like you, I credit God with protecting me and keeping me safe during many challenging times in my life, both inside and outside of the military.
But being a devout Christian does not mean that I don’t recognize and respect the Constitutional rights of non-Christians. On the contrary, I believe that I have a special obligation as a member of the majority religion in our country to ensure that we Christians do not trample upon the rights of the minority. Sadly, too many of our fellow Christians believe the lie that American is a Christian nation.  We are not.  We may have a majority of citizens who profess to be Christians, yet we are a nation of many beliefs (including non-belief). Our founding generation was prescient in crafting a Constitution which ensures that no particular religious belief is favored by our government (including our military). When such favoritism is inappropriately given, it threatens the foundation of all of our rights and protections.
That is why the MRFF exists and that is why we do what we do. We are dedicated to ensuring that all members of the United States Armed Forces fully receive the Constitutional guarantees of religious freedom to which they and all Americans are entitled by virtue of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. There is nothing complicated about that mission — we support ALL members of the US military, Christian and non-Christian, religious and non-religious, believer and non-believer.
Hope this information is helpful.  Thanks again for writing.
Peace,
Mike Challman
Christian, USAF veteran, MRFF supporter

Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member Joan Slish

Dear (name withheld),
Thank you for your service. 
We have many honorable and distinguished military personnel whom we rely on for their expertise on religion in the military on our Board and Advisory Board, who continue to uphold their oath and did fight.
 
Check out our Mission Statement
 
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 (300 in total) of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) are Christians. In fact, 96% of our 50,000+ soldier clients are mainline Christians and we fight for them more than any other belief or non-belief.
You don’t have to be worried about where Mikey is going because God has already spoken on it.

“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.” Romans 11:25-27

God is going to take away all of their sins and save them.

We are defenders of the Constitution (Separation of Church and State), 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.
As a retired Pastor I have these words for you-
“War is hell” and in the heat of battle things happen. Our God is a merciful God and understands these things. Pour out your heart to Him the things you feel you did wrong and He will forgive you. It bothers me that it stills weighs heavy on your heart and you don’t know where you will end up in the afterlife.
May God bless your socks off!
Joan Slish
MRFF Advisory Board Member

 

 

 

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