RE: MRFF Demands That Fort Jackson Rescinds Invitation to Kenneth Copeland to be Featured Speaker at Feb. 1, 2018 National Prayer Breakfast
Dear Major General John P. “Pete” Johnson,
Sir, it is with deep respect that I earnestly write to you this morning on behalf of 56 of your U.S Army subordinates (Officers, NCOs and U.S. Army civilians), directly under your command, with an expeditious, rational and reasonable demand in your official capacity as the Commanding General of Fort Jackson, South Carolina. For the record, sir, 32 of these complainants practice the Christian faith (Protestant or Roman Catholic), 6 are Jewish, 8 are Muslims, 2 are Hindus, 1 is a Native American spiritualist and the remainder would describe themselves as nontheist, agnostic, atheist, secularist or humanist.
By way of brief introduction, sir, my name is Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein and I am the Founder and President of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF). As you may know, MRFF is a large, civil rights advocacy, nonprofit organization founded in late 2005 which vigorously protects and defends, inter alia, the Constitutional, First Amendment civil rights of DoD servicemen and women for Church/State separation in the United States armed forces. Presently, including the 56 servicemen and women mentioned above, MRFF proudly represents over 53,400 United States soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the active duty, reserve, national guard and civilian components of our nation’s military as well as veterans. Approximately 96% of MRFF’s total clients are devoted practitioners of many varied denominations of the Christian faith; about 3/4 of that number are from a large spectrum of Protestant sects and the bulk of the remaining 1/4 are Roman Catholic.
General Johnson, sir, please allow me to cut to the chase as I know you must be very busy as, likewise, we are at MRFF.
General, every year at this time like clockwork MRFF is usually inundated with a plethora of complaints about matters associated with the so-called “National Prayer Breakfasts” (NPBs) and “National Prayer Luncheons” (NPLs) which so many military installations hold on an annual basis. It has been MRFF’s experience that such events, though billed as “non-mandatory” and pure-as-the-driven-snow “voluntary” are very often QUITE the opposite, in all actuality, for so very many unfortunate military subordinates who are “VOLUNTOLD” to attend by their command chains. (I will leave alone, for the moment, the array of serious issues of illicit, First Amendment breaches associated with all of these NPBs and NPLs as they are SO often misused and abused for sinister, twisted purposes of fundamentalist Christian proselytization.)
This new year of 2018 is no different from all of the prior years vis-a-vis the NPBs and NPLs and Fort Jackson’s version of the NPB is currently scheduled for a week from today on Thursday, February 1, 2018. These NPBs and NPLs always feature a special “guest speaker” and THAT, sir, is PRECISELY why I am writing to you this day with a respectful demand for your kind attention and timely help to right an absolutely egregious wrong.
General, do you have ANY idea, sir, whom your staff has selected to be the Fort Jackson special “guest speaker” at your Feb. 1, ’18 NPB?
Assuming you do not, sir, let me please advise you that it is the universally despicable, discredited, fundamentalist Christian extremist/supremacist Kenneth Copeland. Do you know ANYthing of moment about this feckless, religious bully/provocateur, General Johnson? To aid you in your further research, please see the excerpt in red highlight below from a breaking news article publicly published this VERY morning by MRFF’s Senior Research Director, Ms. Chris Rodda (the full article will be immediately sent to you, as well, this morning for your further review):
“Will Kenneth Copeland Tell Soldiers at Fort Jackson Prayer Breakfast that PTSD Isn’t Real?”
He’s been investigated by the Senate for financial misconduct. He’s called himself a “Christian extremist.” His fraudulent practices have been exposed by his own employees. He’s Islamophobic, homophobic, and believes that America is a Christian nation. He needs a private jet because commercial airplanes are filled with demons.
Any one of the above things should make televangelist Kenneth Copeland an obviously inappropriate and outrageous choice to be the speaker for the National Prayer Breakfast observance at any U.S. military installation. And yet Copeland has been invited to do just that, and is scheduled to speak at the February 1 prayer breakfast at Fort Jackson, South Carolina — the U.S. Army’s largest training installation and home to the Armed Forces Army Chaplaincy School and Army’s Drill Sergeant School.
But there’s something else that makes Copeland an even more outrageous choice to speak to any military audience. He has claimed that PTSD isn’t real because it isn’t biblical, saying on a 2013 Veterans Day episode of his TV show:
“Any of you suffering from PTSD right now, you listen to me. You get rid of that right now. You don’t take drugs to get rid of it, and it doesn’t take psychology. That promise right there [referring to a Bible verse he had just read] will get rid of it.”
Copeland’s guest that day, Christian nationalist pseudo-historian David Barton, wholeheartedly agreed, adding that warriors in the Bible fighting in the name of God were “esteemed” and in the “faith hall of fame” because they “took so many people out in battle.”
Oh, General Johnson, there is just SO much, much more about this disgusting Copeland person which MRFF could expand upon but suffice it to say that this great homage and special invitation proffered by your command staff to honor a miserable, fundamentalist Christian wretch like Copeland as the special “guest speaker’ at Fort Jackson’s NPB is TOTALLY antithetical to the United States Army’s vaunted “7 Core Values” of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage. Indeed, General, the SHOCKING selection of such a divisive and corrosive individual/religious predator and bully to be the main speaking attraction at your NPB at Fort Jackson is nothing less than a terminal and swift cancer to the bedrock good order, morale, discipline and unit cohesion of your command at Fort Jackson.
The 56 U.S. Army personnel under your direct command, sir, at Fort Jackson who have pleaded for MRFF to intercede on their collective behalf regarding this sordid matter justly fear punitive reprisal and retribution if they try to express their outrage over Copeland’s selection via their respective chains of command or by “outting” themselves via Inspector General/Equal Employment Opportunity (IG/EEO) complaints.
Therefore, sir, on behalf of our 56 U.S.Army clients, MRFF is officially demanding that you immediately rescind this invitation to Kenneth Copeland to speak at the Fort Jackson NPB. General Johnson, sir, the good news is that there is still time to do the right thing here! Sir, please replace this hideously reprehensible fundamentalist Christian charlatan cum exclusivist bigot with another more respectable and inspiring, inclusive individual. General, please pick SOMEone else, ANYone else who, unlike Copeland who gleefully brags about being a “Christian extremist”, clearly represents and buttresses the aforementioned Army’s “7 Core Values” whilst concomitantly strengthening the “Army Strong” foundations of strength-through-diversity inextricably intertwined with supporting and enhancing good order, morale, discipline and unit cohesion.
General Johnson, I am happy to discuss this urgent matter of MRFF’s demand that you rescind Kenneth Copeland’s Fort Jackson NPB speaking invitation with you at your earliest opportunity should you have any additional queries or desire, for any other reason, to further communicate.
Sincerely and respectfully submitted with best wishes and standing by for your decision,
Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein, Esq.
Founder and President, MRFF