Wow

You should be ashamed of yourselves, if we have any real problems in this country it’s organizations like yours tearing our citizens apart.

God be with you,

(name withheld)


Response from MRFF Supporter Mike Challman

Hello (name withheld) –

Thanks for taking the time to write to the MRFF.  I’m a volunteer who supports the organization in a variety of ways, including email correspondence.  I’m also a lifelong Christian, a USAF Academy graduate (’85), and a USAF veteran. I’m curious to understand better, just how is it that the MRFF is “tearing our citizens apart”?  We advocate for the Constitutional rights and protections of all US military members. If such an effort is tearing our country apart, then something is fundamentally wrong with our country.
But as it happens, I disagree with your characterization of our organization. One of the hallmarks of a free (and healthy) society is the ability of its members to express contrary positions, and to stand in peaceful opposition to actions which they believe are inappropriate. Such is the case with our objections to the Langley posters, which I’m guessing may be the reason you have written to us. Even if it’s not the reason, it will still serve as a good example of who we are and why we do what we do.
We oppose any conduct (and that is an important word to note…. we oppose “conduct” and not “belief”) that is contrary to the obligation of our military organizations to remain neutral in matters of faith and religion.  When posters such as those at Langley express a particular sectarian religious belief (or non-belief), that particular conduct is inappropriate and should be rightly challenged by every American who values his or her own Constitutional rights and protections. Keep in mind, as a Christian myself, I have no personal objection to an expression of faith in our God.  But as a veteran, I very much object to anything that will undermine the Constitutional principles of religious freedom upon which our country was founded.
So no, (name withheld), I don’t believe that we have any reason to “be ashamed of yourselves.” Our mission is honorable, and it is right, and it is Constitutional, and it is American. Those insisting that any particular religious belief be given official preference or prominence over all other beliefs are the ones who have reason to be ashamed.
Thanks again for writing.
Peace,
Mike Challman
Christian, USAF veteran, MRFF supporter


Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member Joan Slish

Dear (name withheld),

We have nothing to be ashamed of nor are we causing division. 
 
We are defenders of the Constitution (Separation of Church and State), Supreme Court rulings and the UCMJ.
 
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.
 
We are not making war against Christianity. Our government is secular (including the military) and has laws and rules regarding religious neutrality in any of its entities.
 
We also 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.
 
Check out our Mission Statement
 
“…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. 
 
These are the laws the military must obey and when they don’t, we step in once a complaint is made by a service member. We do not act on our own.
 
If anyone is tearing us apart it is Christian supremacy.

 

As retired Supreme Court Sandra Day O’Connor said       “But we do not count heads before enforcing the First Amendment.”
 
This means the majority religion does not rule over the minority.
 
Joan Slish
MRFF Advisory Board Member

 


Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member John Compere

 

Dear (name withheld),

I have been asked to respond to your lengthy email testimonial & I am happy to do so. While I do not agree with your revisionist history about our blessed country, I acknowledge your right as an American to believe whatever you choose. The latter is a good reason why the MRFF represents over 50,000 American military, veterans & civilians employed by the military (96% of whom are Christians) who have requested that their American Constitution freedom from government imposed religion be respected & protected. We proudly assist them to insure they have & are not denied this historic American individual liberty. It is incomprehensible to me that you would object to & oppose our representation of your fellow American Christians who have requested our assistance.
 
I am taking the liberty of attaching texts with illustrations of some of my published essays that address many of the  matters you raised you rather than re-type them into this lengthy email. They present a point of view I hope you find informative.
 
Most Sincerely,
John Compere
MRFF Advisory Board Member

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 Constitution 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 Constitution, their sworn service oath and military regulations subject themselves to disciplinary action. Additionally, a Constitution introductory class and briefing on the legal significance of sworn oaths 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 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 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.

 

The late American humorist Will Rogers’ wisdom applies 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 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); former Chief Judge, US Army Court of Military Review; disabled American veteran (Vietnam); Military Religious Freedom Foundation Advisory Board Member; and Texas rancher.

 __________________

 

RATIONAL REFLECTIONS ON OUR USA CONSTITUTION

 

American Constitution Day is an annual national observance on September 17 commemorating the Constitution signing by 39 founders concluding the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on that day in 1787. All publicly funded educational institutions and federal agencies are required by federal law to provide concurrent Constitution educational programming. Unfortunately, it passed with little media attention.

 

Constitution illiteracy is widespread and worrisome. The Constitution is freely invoked by many but actually read by few. Knowledge is gained only through independent educational, historical, governmental, judicial, legal or scholarly sources, not from unqualified history deniers and revisionists with self-serving religious or political agendas who freely express opinions but seldom exhibit knowledge of the Constitution, its lawful meaning or its history. 

 

Here is a summary of its historic self-evident truths –

 

The Preamble states the 6 secular reasons for our national establishment. The Constitution is the original legal document creating our secular form of government, its organization and operation. The first 10 Amendments are our Bill of Rights providing individual liberties for Americans. 17 additional Amendments were enacted by the federal legislative branch and ratified by the states.

 

The secular Constitution provides 3 separate and equal government branches. The legislative branch enacts law (Article I), executive branch executes law (Article II), and judicial branch interprets law with the exclusive power to decide all cases arising under the Constitution (Article III). When the Supreme Court decides a Constitution case, it becomes settled law and all government branches, states and citizens must comply. The judicial doctrine of “Stare Decisis” (decision adherence) applies and the decision becomes legal precedent rarely re-litigated. This insures American law is consistent and reliable.

 

There are 2 ways to amend the Constitution: (1) constitutional convention requiring 2/3s of state legislatures to convene, agree and enact the amendment, then ratification by 3/4s of 50 states; or (2) amendment enactment by 2/3s of the Senate and House of Representatives, then ratification by 3/4s of 50 states. It cannot be amended by citizen petition.

 

The original 1782 national mottoes created by our Founders are strictly secular : “E Pluribus Unum”  (Out of Many One): “Novos Ardo Seclorum” (New Order of the Ages); and “Annuit Coeptis” (Undertakings Favored).

 

The 1776 Declaration of Independence, which is not law, uses only universal terms (“Laws of Nature”, “Nature’s God”, “Creator” and “Divine Providence”) that are not exclusive to any religion.

 

Separation of church and state is a fundamental liberty of free people that keeps public government out of private religion and private religion out of public government. It is clearly the intent of our Founders as confirmed by the Constitution and its 1st Amendment, indisputably documented by countless historic records, publicly acknowledged by every President since Thomas Jefferson, continuously confirmed by the US Supreme Court, and firmly embedded in the long established law of our land. The Constitution  even pointedly provides “no religious test ” shall ever be required as a qualification to any public office or public trust (Article VI). It also important to note historical records document their were no public prayers during the 116 days of the Constitutional Convention

 

The 1st Amendment expressly provides 3 religious liberties for all Americans:

 

  1. Freedom from religion – our government is prevented from “respecting” an establishment of religion (favoring a religion). It is our right to be free from a religion imposed by the government or its representatives.

 

  1. Freedom of religion – our government is prevented from “prohibiting” free exercise of religion. It is our right to practice a religion or no religion provided it does not violate the rights of other Americans.

 

  1. Freedom to speak about religion – our 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 other Americans.

 

There should be no misunderstanding about the meaning of the operative verbs for these first 3 provisions of the 1st Amendment above. All one has to do is read them and then read the definitions of “respecting ”, “prohibiting ” or “abridging ” in any American dictionary.

 

It is fact, history and law that we were not created as a religion-based nation. This question was permanently settled in 1797 by the Treaty of Tripoli, a publicly recorded one-page international legal document located in the Department of State historical archives, that boldly declared to the world “…The United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion…”. It was negotiated during 1st President George Washington’s administration, unanimously ratified by the US Senate, and signed by 2nd President John Adams. The US Consul to Algiers, Joel Barlow (Washington appointee & American Revolution chaplain), negotiated the treaty, co-authored the Arabic version signed in Tripoli during Washington’s presidency, and authored the English version ratified and signed in the US during Adams’ presidency.

 

It is significant that the solitary eagle was selected as our American national symbol. Eagles are independent and fearless like our patriotic and courageous Founders. You find them one at a time and, unlike submissive sheep, they do not flock or follow. As Americans, may we resolve to be more like the noble eagle and less like herded sheep.

 

The very definition of a republic is a nation “of laws, and not of man.” – 2nd President John Adams (“Thoughts on Government”, 1776).

 

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.” – 3rd President Thomas Jefferson (Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress, January 1, 1802).

 

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.” – 40th President Ronald Reagan (public speech at Valley Stream, New York, on October 26, 1984).

 

We enjoy the separation of church and state, and no sectarian religion has ever been and we pray God, will ever be imposed on us.” – Christian Evangelist Billy Graham (public sermon, Washington National Cathedral, 1985).

 

John Compere

Retired Army general officer, retired Texas lawyer, retired US judge, disabled American veteran (Vietnam) and Texas rancher.

__________________

 

RESOLVE & REFLECT MORAL BEHAVIOR

 

Human morality consists of benevolent behavior actually lived – not having borrowed beliefs based on religious hearsay. Moral living requires hard work with effort, whereas accepting archaic religious claims requires only comfortable conformance with no effort.  World philosophers beginning with Socrates have long maintained that morality is autonomous. In their words, we must do our moral thinking and living for ourselves.

 

World history confirms the three Abrahamic revealed religions proclaimed behavior over beliefs. Old Testament Judaism emphasized righteous behavior not right beliefs. Jesus of New Testament Christianity preached compassionate behavior not correct beliefs. Muhammad in the Islamic Quran commanded faithful behavior not false beliefs.

 

For example, some folks believe an immortal male deity authored or inspired the various Bible versions, came to Earth disguised as a human man from somewhere in the sky and was executed by mortal males in accordance with his own biblical prophecy. If so, he was the victim of himself.

 

A prehistoric myth of a 6 day creation, talking snake, evil devil, Hebrew deity and only two humans as well as a biologically impossible virgin birth, barbaric sacrificial atonement salvation, gravity defying bodily resurrection and unintelligible trinity math of 3 equal 1 but 1 equals 3 are more examples of dated dogma composed by unlearned foreign males promoting pre-scientific religious concepts countless centuries ago and still accepted today without question by unthinking religious believers.

 

Beginning in the 4th Century, foreign theologians created belief creeds they preferred over moral conduct. These digressive dogmas were designed to govern the gullible and control the compliant. Ancient religious doctrines are always problematic because they were composed by primitive males during primitive times in primitive societies to exploit primitive people. They are primitive products devoid of centuries of indisputable scientific knowledge and advanced human intelligence.

 

There is no better illustration of an antiquated man-made doctrine than the fabricated “original sin” which is not mentioned in any Bible version. A guilt-ridden 4th Century African man named Augustine rationalized the biblical talking snake, first couple and Hebrew deity were to blame for his youthful misconduct instead of taking personal responsibility for his admitted immoral behavior (“Confessions”, 400 C.E.). It was shamelessly self-serving. Sadly, this original sin concoction is still used today by chauvinist churches and clergy to negatively exploit fearful followers through fictitious sin. They callously condone an African misogynist male’s decadent debauchery and unrepentant mistreatment of women while inexplicably ignoring their positive biblical creation story where woman and man were created equally “in the image of God”…“and it was very good. ” (Genesis 1:27&31).

 

The obsolete Nicene Creed is another example. It is a regressive religious relic still recited by rote in worship services that does not even mention the moral life and teachings of Jesus.

 

Independent studies have shown there is no significant difference in the moral judgments of nonbelievers and believers. Some mistakenly assume that morality does not exist apart from religion. That is simply not true. History documents that human morality predates institutional religion and consists of benevolent behavior not bewildering beliefs. Moral behavior reflects genuine gracious human living whereas religious belief represents only subjective human opinion.

 

May we resolve to reflect the best moral behavior in our private and public lives. May we also resolve to respect the right of fellow human beings to determine and enjoy their own religious or non-religious beliefs and refrain from self-righteously imposing our beliefs on them. After all, that is the same precious individual liberty we cherish for ourselves. It is universally recognized as the “Golden Rule” predating organized religion and preached by Jesus in every New Testament version (Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31). It also is the reason our visionary founders provided both freedom from public religion and freedom of private religion (or no religion) in our federal and state constitutions.

 

So many wars and strife are borne out of opposing religious views. If people don’t have kindness, respect, tolerance, and compassion at the core of their beliefs, then their religion is pointless.” – ANNIE LENNOX

 

The truths of religion are never so well understood as by those who have lost the power of reasoning.” – VOLTAIRE

 

True virtue is life under the direction of reason.” – SPINOZA

 

God makes all things good; man meddles with them and they become evil.” – ROUSSEAU

 

Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.” – MARK TWAIN

 

The good life is one guided by reason and motivated by love.” – BERTRAND RUSSELL

 

Truth, in matters of religion, is simply the opinion that has survived.” – OSCAR WILDE

 

The best theology is no theology at all; just love one another. ” – CHARLES SHULZ

 

…compassion is more important than religion.” – THE DALAI LAMA

 

“God Gave Us Reason, Not Religion ” – WORLD UNION OF DEISTS 

 

John Compere

a retired trial lawyer, US judge & Army airborne officer; disabled veteran (Vietnam); and Texas rancher

 


 

Joan, 
I appreciate the history lesson. However, as we both know, your organization is hiding behind loopholes. The abolishment of all religion is your course of action and to see to it you will go as far as removing even the slightest hint of religion from public areas. Your anger for forms of religion, as of course unknown to me, is a personal trial of your own and I hope to see in the future a different outcome for your obviously intelligent frame of mind. As I said to another one of your staff through E-mail communication, your actions and your opinions are your own and it is your full right to both as a citizen of this great country. It is what makes the freedom of America and the privilege of being a citizen here so great. I am just one of the many who are appalled by them.
 
God bless,
(name withheld)

Response by MRFF Advisory Board Member Joan Slish
Dear (name withheld),
I appreciate the history lesson.
“You’re welcome.”
However, as we both know, your organization is hiding behind loopholes.
“The Constitution, Supreme Court rulings and AFI are not loopholes. They are laws that must be obeyed.”
The abolishment of all religion is your course of action and to see to it you will go as far as removing even the slightest hint of religion from public areas. 
“Actually, it is one sect of Christianity that wants to abolish other Christian denominations.
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.”
 
Mainline Christians including Catholics, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Methodist, etc. should be stomped out in favor of the Dominionist sect of Christianity (which has hijacked our military all the way to the Pentagon).
Our service members who will not convert to this sect face harassment, poor performance ratings and advancements withheld.
We fight for the rights of these mainline Christians more than anything else.”
Your anger for forms of religion, as of course unknown to me, is a personal trial of your own and I hope to see in the future a different outcome for your obviously intelligent frame of mind.
“I’m a retired Pastor and I have no anger nor do I have a personal trial. I live by Jesus’ words to love my neighbor as myself and pray for my enemies. I also live by the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 25:31-46 (the separation of the sheep from the goats) guides my life. So, don’t expect a “different outcome.”
As I said to another one of your staff through E-mail communication, your actions and your opinions are your own and it is your full right to both as a citizen of this great country.
“Our actions are not opinions but based on our laws.”
It is what makes the freedom of America and the privilege of being a citizen here so great.
“Yes, it is.”
I am just one of the many who are appalled by them.
“You are free to be appalled all you want but that doesn’t change anything. As Daniel Patrick Moynihan said You are entitled to your own opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.” You have your opinion and we have the facts to support our stance.”
God bless,
“Ditto”
Joan

 Response by the Founder of President of MRFF Mikey Weinstein
Dear (name withheld),
sorry, but to what are you specifically objecting?….thx for reaching out…Mikey Weinstein, MRFF

Hello Mike,

Thank you for responding to my E-mail and thank you for your service to our country. I understand the view you have adopted and would agree with it if we had no Christian foundation in America. This country was founded by Christians, like yourself, however these men and women were proud of their belief and lived a life dedicated to God… no doubt a harder life but one worthwhile and essential to this upcoming nation. The Pilgrims and Puritans emerged when the religious climate in Europe changed in the early 1500’s. This was a time when many Christians returned to the authority of God’s Word and the purity of biblical doctrine. Their prayers, journals, and writings, such as the Mayflower Compact, indicate that their intent was the furtherance of the Good news (gospel) of Christ and His teachings.  “Remember ever, and always, that your country was founded by the stern old Puritans whose first act on touching the soil of the new world was to offer on bended knees thanksgiving to Almighty God,” said Henry Wilson (1812-1875), 18th U.S. vice president.  For those who doubt this and believe that statements in the Declaration of Independence such as “the laws of nature and of nature’s God” were products of the enlightenment, deism, or secularism, you may want to read quotes from founders such as Alexander Hamilton, Noah Webster, John Jay, William Findley, Rufus King, and James Wilson. All attested to the fact that “the laws of nature and of nature’s God” refer to laws given by God Himself. John Quincy Adams stated that the phrase assumes the existence of a God, the moral ruler of the universe, and a rule of right and wrong. This said, the argument for separation of church and state, I belief, is also a foundation of our country. However, the tearing down of any piece of paper (even old posters from years ago) that shows even the slightest sign of religious freedom seems to be a a direction that (in my opinion) this country does not need to go down. In a time where everyone from LGBT to African Americans to persons from any other faith other than Christianity are protesting our country and our president, the Christian voice is one that seems to be dwindling. do you feel the reason for this is that the 71% of Americans that claim they are christian just prefer not to have their belief heard, or do you think that they are somehow being silenced by organisations like your own? Troubling to me most is the idea of reprimand for our soldiers who fight for our country and have a strong, unwavering belief in the Christian God. Your organization would have any claim to God be diminished in our military, do you then belief that a soldier hurt on the battlefield and asking his brother or sister in arms to pray with him should be reprimanded and that soldier be scrutinized and perhaps court martialed? 
 
Thank you again for your time,
God be with you,

(name withheld)


Response by MRFF Advisory Board Member Mike Farrell

Hi (name withheld)

 

Your thoughtful reply reflects a deeply held view that is, I believe, only partly true. The part that

is not can lead, if one is not careful, into a dangerously narrow corridor filled with exaggerated

fears of anti-Christian bias that can impact one’s perception of other viewpoints and result in a

rather paranoiac defensive crouch from which little of value survives.

 

Your assumptions about the Founders attach to them certain beliefs, qualities, commitments

and actions, likely based on your own perception of what a believing Christian would, or perhaps

should, feel and do. What you fail to recognize, however, is that while many or most of the

Founders have been identified as Christians, most of them were also impacted by a school

of religious thought known as Deism, which argued that human experience and rationality,

rather than religious dogma and mystery, determine the validity of human beliefs.

 

Interestingly, your reference to the term “nature’s God” is a reflection of the writing of Thomas

Paine, a Deist who referred to Christianity as “a fable” and “Nature’s God” as a distant deity.

 

Without going into further detail, my point is only that you can no more assume that because

many of the Founders had a nominal tie to a Christian background they were your version of

people “proud of their belief (who) lived a life dedicated to God,” than you can justify further

hypothesizing that ours is a Christian nation. We can agree the Founders were largely people

who shared a sense of a higher universal authority. Deists also believed in the separation of

church and state.

 

And on that subject, your rather derisive reference to tearing down of “old posters from years

ago” makes me wonder how you responded to the removal of the “Stars and Bars” from the

South Carolina capitol. Certainly as modern understandings require our society to adopt a more

respectful, more egalitarian face, the icons of the harmful, backward policies of less enlightened

times deserve to be scuttled, do they not?

 

I don’t see the point in going through the litany of woes about LGBT and African Americans

you seem to feel beset our country today. I see them differently. But what is clear to me is that

the fear of Christian persecution you and others seem intent to believe lies at the core of today’s

issues is a creature of your own imagination and has resulted in the self-limited defensive

crouch described above. No harm is done, nor is any intended, to the vitality or potential for

survival of your belief system by the separation of church and state. We protect said separation

because it is fundamental to the freedom of belief of all, however they choose to express it.

That, when it is properly honored and protected, is one of the things that make this country the

envy of the world.

 

Mike Farrell

(MRFF Board of Advisors)


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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