Freedom from your religion?

I heard your name dropped by some senator, read your website and am reviled.

There is no “freedom from religion” short of schizophrenia; an inability to maintain beliefs and or practices.
Every healthy person maintains some set of beliefs and practices, thus has a religion. An individual choosing to ignore the name of their religion, does not mean their religion has no name.
There is no expectation on anyone ever to go along with any facade of any nameless religion.
As easily as anyone can be labeled with Christianity or Hinduism so to can every godless individual fit nicely into categories of some religion; from Nihilism to Gosateizm, even Buddhism is “godless” and an appropriate label.
An individuals choice to identify as unidentifiable “ambiguity” is not a reasonable expectation of others, short of a ladies age. Defending the “no-religion” position is an encouragement of self ignorance at best. Its not an appropriate answer, its like saying: “no-pants”, “no-toilet”, “no-food” despite factually having these things.. classsic schizophrenia.
 
cf. The Emperors New Clothes.
 
Thanks
(name withheld)

Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member John Compere
Dear (name withheld),
Your communication declaring there is no “freedom from religion” reveals an incredible ignorance of our nation’s historic secular founding, secular constitution, secular government & secular military. It requires a rational response.

Our US Constitution 1st Amendment provides, respectively, our historic trinity of religious freedoms: (1) freedom from public religion, (2) freedom of private religion, and (3) freedom of religious speech. However, the rights of others may not be violated in exercising these rights. This is not only common historical knowledge, but has been continuously acknowledged & affirmed by the US Supreme Court with the exclusive authority for interpreting the US Constitution (Article III).

You obviously are not aware that there are civilizations without any religion (e.g., Asian Chinese, African Hadza & South American Piraha).
You also may be enlightened to know Pew Research Center surveys show 25% of Americans are “nones” & have no religion (more than any religious denomination) with 39% of Millennials (age 20-35). Less than 1/3 of Americans believe religion is important to being American. Those millions of Americans who say religion is not important, do attend church, do not pray & do not want a religious funeral are steadily increasing & would take offense to your sanctimonious “schizophrenia” statement.

We respect your right to your opinion, however misinformed, but it has no rational relevance to the 55,000 military members, veterans & civilian employees (96% of whom are Christians) who have requested their American Constitution right to determine, enjoy & practice their own beliefs without interference be respected & protected. We represent them with pride & patriotism.

Willful ignorance is difficult to dissuade if infected with apathy, acrimony or arrogance. However, we continue to try.

Most Sincerely,

John Compere
Brigadier General, US Army (Retired), Disabled American Veteran (Vietnam), Military Religious Freedom Foundation Advisory Board Member

Response by MRFF Advisory Board Member Joan Slish

Jon,

The Senator is Jeanne Shaheen from New Hampshire.

I read your email and I am reviled because of your lack of history concerning religion in America.

We at MRFF are also reviled because our 55,000+ clients (96% are mainline Christians) are being told they are “not Christian enough”, are to be “Warriors (literally) Christ”, have to put up with in-your-face proselytizing, forced to listen to a Christian prayer at mandatory formations, advancements withheld, given poor performance ratings, harassed and kicked out of the military on trumped-up charges, all in the name of Jesus.

We fight for mainline Christians more than any other religion or those of no religious persuasion.

Before you get off on your high-horse and tell me I’m not a Christian because of what I wrote above, I am a retired Christian minister.

You couldn’t have read our whole website to find out who we really are.

Mikey and MRFF 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 (415 in total) of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) are Christians.

We also have many distinguished and honorable military members on our Board and Advisory Board whom we rely on for their expertise on religion in the military.

https://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org/about/foundation-voices/

Check out our Mission statement.

https://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org/about/our-mission/

You said “There is no “freedom from religion” short of schizophrenia; an inability to maintain beliefs and or practices.”

By your definition our Founding Fathers are schizophrenic.

What a joke!

Separation of Church and State IS FREEDOM FROM RELIGION.

Here’s the backdrop for the First Amendment of the Constitution. This is a brief summary and I suggest you research the historical facts listed here.

When Virginia was founded it established the Anglican Church as the state’s official religion based on the state sponsored Church of England. In order to hold any official position in the Virginia government you must be a member of the Anglican Church.

All citizens of Virginia, regardless of their religious affiliation, had to pay taxes to support the Anglican churches throughout the state. The Quakers, Baptists, Presbyterians and Methodists fought this by petitions but were ignored.

Jefferson felt that to make anyone pay a tax to support the Anglican Church or any church was wrong and in 1777 penned the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. After becoming Governor of Virginia in 1779, he brought the bill – known as Bill No. 82 – before the Virginia Assembly. It didn’t become law until 1785.

The following paragraph from the Virginia Statute is the basis for the First Amendment. It didn’t need this whole paragraph written out in the amendment because the people of that time understood what it meant.

“We the General Assembly of Virginia do enact that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.”

This bill gave the people freedom FROM religion in all aspects of their lives. No longer were they forced to attend religious services, pay taxes to the state to fund the state sanctioned religion or kept from holding a job in the government.

Jefferson wrote the Statute of Religious Freedom, whose preamble indicted state religion, noting that “false religions over the greatest part of the world and through all time” have been maintained through the church-state. To “compell a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical.”

In his Notes on Virginia (1782), Jefferson wrote: “Millions of innocent men, women and children since the introduction of Christianity have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned. Yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools and the other half hypocrites. . .”

Even in boot camp the soldiers have freedom from religion by not having to attend church but their punishment for staying away is cleaning their barracks or other menial tasks.

The Treaty of Tripoli was signed at Tripoli on November 4, 1796.It was submitted to the Senate by President John Adams, receiving ratification unanimously from the U.S. Senate on June 7, 1797, and signed by Adams, taking effect as the law of the land on June 10, 1797;a mere 8 yearssince our Constitution went into effect. If what was written was wrong in anyway, there would have been uproar. But, it passed unanimously and confirmed that America was not founded on Christianity.

Treaty of Tripoli:

As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen [Muslims],—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan [Mohammedan] nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

The Constitution reflects our founder’s views of a secular government protecting the freedom of any belief or unbelief.

The historian, Robert Middlekauff, observed, “The idea that the Constitution expressed a moral view seems absurd. There were no genuine evangelicals in the Convention, and there were no heated declarations of Christian piety.”

“The Salem witchcraft was the rock on which the theocracy shattered”. George Lincoln Burr (1857 – 1938), Professor of History and Librarian at Cornell University

“Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, then that of blindfolded fear.
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr, August 10, 1787

“History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.”

Thomas Jefferson: in letter to Alexander von Humboldt, December 6, 1813

“The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.”
John Adams, “A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America” 1787-1788

“If I could conceive that the general government might ever be so administered as to render the liberty of conscience insecure, I beg you will be persuaded, that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution.”
George Washington, letter to the United Baptist Chamber of Virginia, May 1789

Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814

“The civil government functions with complete success by the total separation of the Church from the State.”
James Madison, 1819, Writings, 8:432, quoted from Gene Garman, “Essays In Addition to America’s Real Religion”

“Strongly guarded as is the separation between Religion and Government in the Constitution of the United States, the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies, may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history.” 

James Madison; Monopolies, Perpetuities, Corporations, Ecclesiastical Endowments

“God has appointed two kinds of government in the world, which are distinct in their nature, and ought never to be confounded together; one of which is called civil, the other ecclesiastical government.”
Isaac Backus, An Appeal to the Public for Religious Liberty, 1773

“During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.

What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; on many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty may have found an established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate it, needs them not.”

James Madison 1785 Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments

“Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting “Jesus Christ,” so that it would read “A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;” the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination.”

As Thomas Jefferson wrote in his Autobiography, in reference to the Virginia Act for Religious Freedom

The United States is not a theocracy and according to our Founding Fathers the Constitution is not based on Christianity or biblical law.

As defenders of the Constitution we fight for the separation of church and state.

“…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.

To place the Christian god above all others is in violation of Reynolds v. U.S., Lemon v. Kurtzman, the Lemon Test, Parker v. Levy and AFI 1-1, Section 2.12.

The Department of Defense thinks Mikey is patriotic not schizophrenic:

Mikey Weinstein Named to List of 100 Most Influential People in U.S. Defense: MRFF President and Founder, Mikey Weinstein is named to the inaugural 100 Most Influential People in U.S. Defense on December 17, 2012.  This list was compiled over five months by more than two dozen reporters and editors representing the world’s biggest military newsroom and the award-winning staffs of Gannett Government Media’s sector-leading publications: Defense News, Army Times, Air Force Times, Navy Times, Marine Corps Times, Armed Forces Journal and Federal Times. Inclusion in this list is based on an individuals’ personal influence, not just the power that comes with their office.   One individual on the list explains the concept of personal influence as “…making change, it’s not just celebrity.”

I did a little research on you before this response and found you to be a conspiracy theorist.

“A conspiracy theory is an explanation of an event or situation that invokes an unwarranted conspiracy, generally one involving an illegal or harmful act carried out by government or other powerful actors. Conspiracy theories often produce hypotheses that contradict the prevailing understanding of history or simple facts.”

You are lacking in both!

Joan Slish

MRFF Advisory Board Member


Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member Mike Farrell

Dear (name withheld)

 

I read your unfortunate message to the MRFF and thought, against my better judgment, it deserved a response.

 

You are, you indicate, “reviled.” Since I take your use of the word to mean you aren’t saying you are hated or insufferable, though who knows, I will assume you mean you are insulted. I’m wondering, assuming that to be the case, what has caused you insult to the degree that you’re moved to dash off a fairly wordy screed that establishes nothing except your apparent need to pick nit?

 

You say you “heard your name dropped by some senator.” By “your name,” do you mean the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, or did the un-named senator mention an actual person? If she or he did so, you might have been more specific in the address.

 

I mention specificity here because the gist of your message indicates a rather anal need for same. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder comes to mind.

 

Whatever the case, you were intrigued or moved or driven enough to read the MRFF website, with the result being your current state of apparent anxiety. That, I have to say, is weird.

 

Because you found on the website mention of the term ‘freedom from religion,’ you are “reviled”?

 

My man, you must have a lot of time on your hands, along with a deep psychological need that beggars description, unless the above guess fits.

 

To your apparent point, the first reference in the dictionary when one looks up the word religion is, as is the case in common usage, “the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, esp. a personal God or gods.” You clearly prefer to extend that to include the holding of any “set of beliefs and practices.”

 

That, of course, is your privilege.

 

But because of both the dictionary’s definition and the common usage, we feel it is important to clarify for those you might consider to be the ‘unwashed’, that the freedom of religion granted Americans by their Constitution does not mean they have a choice only to select which faith community they must join in order to express their belief in God. No, we think it important they know that freedom extends to any form of belief system they choose, be that of a God or no gods, or even no particular system at all. We think that freedom is theirs, guaranteed by the fundamental tenets upon which this country was founded. And if it troubles you that we state it in the way we do, that’s too bad.

 

We feel it needs to be said, and said clearly, because the more zealous believers of a fundamentalist version of the dominant faith in this country are committed to establishing their particular belief system as the one and only true faith of this land. We will not allow them to succeed.

 

Mike Farrell

(MRFF Board of Advisors)


 

 

 

 

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1 Comment

  1. watchtower

    Hmmm, I wonder if I, as a healthy person, believe “Living Free” is a religion? Let me explain what that means to me…I believe whatever I want to and I do not have to believe in anything YOU do!

    You see, we are free to choose, and that means free to choose no religion, which equates to Freedom FROM religion…do YOU understand?

    None of those categories YOU want to stuff people into matter one iota; who the hell are you to even imply–did someone die and make you the only person to decide what other believe or not believe? No, I see, you just appointed yourself as chief chucklehead of all things.

    And what the hell does “…position is an encouragement of self ignorance at best” mean? Your position is “self ignorant” because you apparently have schizophrenia and did not learn in school our nation’s “historic” secular founding as John describes above. PLEASE, do not procreate!

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