MRFF President/Founder Mikey Weinstein was contacted on October 14, 2017 by an active duty soldier representing over 40 U.S. Army personnel regarding forced attendance at a “Spiritual Bar B Que”. This active duty soldier, and MRFF client, described the situation in a hurried email:
I’m at AIT [Advanced Individual Training] in Ft Gordon GA. I have an issue that has come up here. Today, (Oct 14, 2017) there was a spiritual bar b que held at one of our chapels. It was a little affair involving Christian rock being played, the chaplain talking and leading everyone in prayer, the usual Christian social event type stuff. Normally I don’t take issue with events like these however it was decided that attendance to this event would be mandatory. I’m unsure of who made the order but I saw several companies being marched to the event so I think it may have been made at the battalion level.
After verification of this statement, Mikey immediately sent a letter to Major General John B. Morrison, Jr., Commanding General, Fort Gordon, Georgia informing him of the situation and demanding remedial action and punishment in accordance with the U.S. Constitution and numerous DoD/ and U.S. Army Directives/Instructions/Regulations for those individuals under his command that forced participation of their subordinates in this clearly sectarian religious proselytizing event. In this demand letter, Mikey/MRFF pointed out that:
The majority of MRFF’s clients in this atrocious matter happen to be practicing Christians themselves who clearly understand that, irrespective of the fact that they happen to belong to the majority religious faith group under your command at Fort Gordon, sir, FORCING soldiers AGAINST their will to likewise accept that particular Christian majoritarian faith is BLATANTLY and wretchedly WRONG from a moral, ethical and especially legal perspective! Other MRFF clients in this tragic matter include Army soldiers and Army personnel who follow the religious convictions of Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism as well as a number of those who self-describe as agnostic, atheist, humanist and secularist.
Sir, can you imagine, even for one instant, what unmitigated hell would have been unleashed had your soldiers been FORCED to likewise march in formation and involuntarily participate in the proselytizing and conversion event of another religious faith such as, for just one example, Islam? Why, there would have been oceans of blood in the streets, sir, and you KNOW it!
Please tell me, sir, why is it just fine to allow the Christian faith to enjoy such a prized position of proselytizing exceptionalism and superiority and not the Islamic faith or the plethora of other faith and/or non-faith traditions?
On October 16, 2017, J. Bryan Randall of WFXG Fox 54 (Fox TV station in Augusta, Georgia) reported Fort Gordon denies that attendance to the cookout was mandatory, releasing this statement Monday afternoon:
“We are aware of the inquiry from Mr. Weinstein, Founder and President of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. The Saturday, Fall Spiritual Fitness Cookout in question was attended by approximately 500 Soldiers on Fort Gordon. While the event in question was clearly advertised as a voluntary activity only, we are conducting an inquiry to ensure there was no undue command influence to attend.”