April 4, 2018
MRFF Intervention Leads to Immediate End of Sectarian Religious Promotion Emails at U.S. Army Installation
MRFF President/Founder Mikey Weinstein was contacted seeking assistance in responding to a sectarian religious email issued on behalf of the Command Chaplain of the U.S. Army TARDEC (Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center) located in Warren, Michigan. TARDEC is the U.S. Armed Forces’ research and development facility for advanced technology in ground systems.
The email from the TARDEC Command Chaplain’s Office promoted an event entitled ‘The Passion and the Glory’ that:
…reflects both the “Passion” (time of Holy Week covering Jesus’ suffering and death as well as his last days on earth) and the “Glory” (magnificence and true, happy meaning of Jesus’ resurrection for all Christians).
The choir will sing songs which reflect Maundy Thursday and Good Friday; reflective songs as we ponder the meaning of Holy Week and Easter; and songs of glory and honor as we rejoice in our [emphasis added] Savior’s resurrection from the dead.
This email was sent to all TARDEC personnel (around 8,000) with no opt-out or reply options for recipients.
Mikey immediately contacted the TARDEC Commander’s Office, the Command Chaplain, the installation’s legal staff, and the staff member who sent the email to inform them of the illicit and blatantly unconstitutional nature of this type of sectarian religious messaging through official U.S. Military installation communication systems. The Command Chaplain indicated that his message was not intended for general distribution but for a list of individuals he knew wanted to receive these types of religious announcements. The staff member who sent the email to all installation recipients, rather than to only the Command Chaplain’s targeted list, was not aware that regulations prohibit this type of sectarian religious messaging to all installation email recipients and promised not to do so again. Everyone contacted at TARDEC agreed that this email should not have been sent to all recipients in the email system and immediately promised to take appropriate steps to refrain from engaging in sectarian religious messaging via official installation communication channels in the future.
MRFF received the following email response regarding the quick action taken in this matter:
I wanted to take the time to thank you for your recent help on receiving Christian ceremony emails on behalf of the base Chaplain. I believe firmly in the separation of church and state and the rights given to us to worship any faith of our choosing under our first amendment. I believe our government has no right to push or suggest which religion we should follow. By receiving these emails, that is exactly what I felt the Army was doing. Unfortunately, working for the US Army, it can be fearful and hard to stand up by yourself on issues like this. Fortunately, you personally took initiative to address the issue directly with the base Chaplain and the Staff Action Officer that was sending out the emails. I can’t thank you enough for your prompt and personal attention you gave to me. I was truly surprised with how fast and efficient you worked. Now that they know this is a problem, it will be addressed and hopefully not happen again. If it does, I know who will have my back.