Your organization

 You are a despicable group of people who bring shame on every true veteran of our United States Military. May your group wallow in failure and vanish quickly.
(name withheld)

Response by MRFF Advisory Board Member John Compere
Dear (name withheld),

Your diabolical diatribe demonstrates a lamentable lack of knowledge about the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, its advocates and the 55,000 military members, veterans & civilian employees (96% of whom are Christians) it represents who have requested their constitutional right to freedom of religion be respected, protected & freed from interference.

 

The MRFF is a nonprofit constitutional rights organization established in 2005 and dedicated solely to ensuring members of our military receive the right of religious freedom to which all Americans are entitled under our US Constitution. For this advocacy, the MRFF has been officially nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize 7 times.

 

For your information, we are a nation with a secular founding, secular constitution, secular government & secular military. The secular military mission is to defend our nation against its enemies – not promote a religion. The secular 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 deity, scripture or religion. The US Constitution 1st Amendment provides, respectively, our historic trinity of religious freedoms – (1) freedom from public religion, (2) freedom of private religion, & (3) freedom of religious speech. However, the rights of others may not be violated in exercising these rights. It prohibits our government or its representatives (which includes the military) from promoting a religion as the US Supreme Court has consistently & continuously held.

 

There is no American religious belief uniformity. Christianity, for example, has 2,000 different USA varieties according to the World Christian Encyclopedia. The Department of Defense publicly acknowledges our nation’s belief diversity by publishing its official list of recognized religions for the military alone which currently includes 221 different belief groups. The many Christian military members we represent do not want another person’s version of Christianity imposed upon them. The few Non-Christian military members we represent do not want any version of Christianity imposed upon them. All object to being proselytized with the religious beliefs of someone else, especially superiors, in the military workplace. They want to be able to perform their military duties free from uninvited & unwanted interference. For this, the MRFF proudly & patriotically represents them when requested.

 

Self-righteous fundamentalist Christians are using their military positions to publicly force their private religious beliefs on other military members, especially subordinates, during military duty in military work places violating the Constitution, their sworn oath & military regulations. These religious freedom violations seldom surface when military leaders understand & respect the Constitution, sworn service oaths & military regulations.

 

Simply stated, military members (like all Americans) have the right guaranteed by our Constitution to their own beliefs, but they must respect the right of fellow military members to their own beliefs. It is the precious right we all cherish & timeless universal wisdom known as the Reciprocity Ethic or Golden Rule reportedly preached by Jesus in all New Testament versions (Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31).

 

1st Commander-in-Chief GEORGE WASHINGTON publicly affirmed this critical liberty – “It has been suggested that [the military chaplaincy] has a tendency to introduce religious disputes into the Army, which above all things should be avoided, and in many instances would compel men to a mode of worship which they do not profess.”


40th Commander-in-Chief RONALD REAGAN publicly affirmed this critical liberty – “We establish no religion in this country, we command no worship, we mandate no belief, nor will we ever…All are free to believe or not believe.”

 

So you see, Mr. Spahr, your hateful comments are really directed toward your 55,000 fellow Americans serving our Country who have requested our assistance in protecting their American religious freedom rights. They do not believe themselves or the MRFF to be a despicable group & they do not wish for themselves or the MRFF to wallow in failure & vanish quickly.

 

It has been my experience that a man who resorts to vulgar name-calling does so when he cannot address a subject manner in any mature or meaningful way. 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), former Chief Judge, US Army Court of Military Review, Military Religious Freedom Foundation Advisory Board Member, & Texas rancher


 Response by MRFF Advisory Board Member Joan Slish
 Dear (name withheld),
First, I’d like to thank you for your service and all of those that served during combat in foreign wars.

 

My father (Soldier’s Medal) and several uncles (one went down with a Naval Ship in the Mediterranean Sea) served in World War II. My brother served in the Vietnam War. My ex-son-in-law (Balad) and my nephew (Baghdad) served in Iraq.

 

I worked for the military under contract from 2003-2004 in the State Family Program at headquarters.

I have a history of family members that have served our country well and would never do anything to attack their sacrifice and reputation.

 

But, there are laws and regulations that must be obeyed.

We are defenders of the Separation of Church and State under the Constitution that guarantees religious freedom for all of our service members.

 

“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.

 

“Rear Admiral Pearigen is horribly wrong on both the law and the attendant historical facts in this matter at hand. Sadly, he appears to need a little history lesson about the origins of the POW/MIA table. It did NOT originate with the National League of POW/MIA Families, as the “Admiral so confidently — but very wrongly — asserts in his ill-advised letter. It originated with the Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association, also known as the “River Rats,” which first met in Thailand in 1967. The original POW/MIA table items did NOT include a Bible. It wasn’t until over three decades later that the Bible was added in a version of the table and ceremony script that appeared in a 1999 issue of the VFW Ladies Auxiliary magazine, and not until 2000 that a nearly identical script first appeared on the National League of POW/MIA Families website. Prior to the addition of the Bible by the VFW Ladies Auxiliary and the National League of POW/MIA Families, the American Legion’s version, which has been around since at least 1985, and which, like the original tradition, does NOT include a Bible, was the standard. In fact, even the National League of POW/MIA Families itself does not take credit for originating this tradition, saying on its own website that it is a ceremony “which military personnel have developed.”

 

The Bible was not a part of the original Missing Man’s Table but added later.

 

Here are the distinguished and honorable military personnel on our Advisory Board who you call “…a despicable group of people who bring shame on every true veteran of our United States Military.”

 

John M. Compere (Judge and Brigadier General, US Army, Retired)

CH (COL-R) Quentin D Collins – Chaplain Colonel Retired

Edie Disler – PhD, Lt Col (Ret)

Robert S. Dotson – Retired brigadier genera

Eagle Man, Ed McGaa – fighter pilot

A.A. “Tony” Verrengia – A retired Air Force Brigadier General

John Whiteside – Whiteside is one of only a few military aviators to possess both Senior Command Air Force wings and aircraft carrier qualified Naval Aviator wings, in addition to having been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism in combat during Operation Desert Storm.

Lawrence Wilkerson – Secretary of State Colin Powell’s Chief of Staff (2002-05).

 

The Department of Defense thinks Mikey is patriotic:

 

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.”

 

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 currently have 55,000+ military clients of which 96% of them are Christians. We fight for their rights more than any other religious or non-religious group.

 

Mikey was a JAG for 7 years at the USAFA where he graduated. He worked for 3 years in the West Wing of the Whitehouse under Ronald Reagan.

 

Read our Mission Statement and you will see that we are not what we have been accused of.

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

 

Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor:

 

“Reasonable minds can disagree about how to apply the Religion Clauses in a given case. But the goal of the Clauses is clear: to carry out the Founders’ plan of preserving religious liberty to the fullest extent possible in a pluralistic society. By enforcing the Clauses, we have kept religion a matter for the individual conscience, not for the prosecutor or bureaucrat. At a time when we see around the world the violent consequences of the assumption of religious authority by government, Americans may count themselves fortunate: Our regard for constitutional boundaries has protected us from similar travails, while allowing private religious exercise to flourish. […] Those who would renegotiate the boundaries between church and state must therefore answer a difficult question: Why would we trade a system that has served us so well for one that has served others so poorly?

…It is true that many Americans find the Commandments in accord with their personal beliefs. But we do not count heads before enforcing the First Amendment.”

McCreary County v. American Civil Liberties Union, 545 U.S. 844 (2005)

 

Just because Christianity is the majority religion in American does not give it the right to ignore or demand religious superiority – thus negating the rights of people of other religions or those that are non-religious.

 

Our military is secular and must remain that way.

 

We aren’t going away any time soon.

 

Joan Slish

MRFF Advisory Board Member


 

 

 

 

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