Who are you? Really, I mean …

From: (name withheld)
Date: August 15, 2018 at 9:08:47 AM MDT
To:[email protected]militaryreligiousfreedom.org” <[email protected]militaryreligiousfreedom.org>
Subject: Who are you? Really, I mean …
To Mikey,
I just heard about your organization. I looked at both your website and your Facebook page. I still don’t understand your motivation.
There is no state-sponsored religion in this country. And any individual who expresses their own personal, private religious views in public or in a military setting is not espousing a state-sponsored religion, since the first amendment also allows free exercise of religion.
Therefore, your little effort to set people against each other has no basis in fact. BUT, you do get a lot of credit for fooling some of the people some of the time.
Do you just not like Christians? Generally speaking, Christians like Jews. So why are you attacking us and our beliefs?
You are the only one who knows.
(name withheld)
Richmond, VA
P.S. I don’t hate you, so don’t you dare put this message in your “hate mail” bin. OR – I may change my mind about you.

Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member John Compere
On Aug 15, 2018, at 10:26 AM, John Compere wrote:

 

Dear (name withheld),
 
For your information, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation is an American non-profit constitutional rights organization (composed of over 80% Christians) dedicated solely to ensuring the right of our military women & men to freedom of religion to which all Americans are entitled under the US Constitution. MRFF represents more than 57,000 military members (96% of whom are Christians) who requested their right to determine, enjoy & practice their own beliefs be respected & protected without coercive interference from others, especially superiors. MRFF only advocates for them when requested & will continue to do so with professional pride. For this advocacy, MRFF has been officially nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize 7 times.
 
Please be advised the US Constitution prohibits our government or its representatives (which includes the military) from promoting or endorsing a religion. The US Supreme Court has continuously & consistently confirmed this as the law of our land. US Armed Forces regulations also prohibit the promoting or endorsing of a religion. The military mission is to defend our nation against its enemies – not promote or endorse a religion. The military sworn service oath is to bear true faith & allegiance to the US Constitution – not to a religion. Those who do not respect & obey the Constitution, military regulations & military service oath have the right to a civilian career.
 
Additionally, the 1st Amendment provides our historic trinity of religious freedoms – freedom from public religion, freedom of private religion & freedom for religious speech. These freedoms cannot be used to violate the freedom of others.
 
Like our Country, the military consists of women & men with many different faiths & beliefs – not just Christians. The Department of Defense, which governs our military, recognizes our belief diversity by publishing a official list of currently 221 different belief groups for the military alone. Our many Christian clients & few non-Christian clients do not want another person’s beliefs imposed upon them in the military workplace. They want the right to fulfill their military mission & duties free from invited interference from others, especially superiors. MRFF respects their right to their own beliefs & protects their right when requested.
 
Hopefully, this will provide an understanding of the MRFF, its purpose & advocacy for our patriotic military members. Thank you for your inquiry.
 
Most Sincerely,
John(Compere)
Brigadier General, Judge Advocate General’s Corps, US Army (Retired)
Former Chief Judge, US Army Court of Military Review
Disabled American Veteran (Vietnam)

Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member Joan Slish

On Aug 15, 2018, at 4:44 PM, Joan Slish  wrote:

 

Dear (name withheld),
Thank you for contacting Mikey with your concerns.
We don’t have a “hate mail” bin even though anti-Semitic hate mail and death threats come from Christians.
“Who are you?”
Mikey is a 1977 Honor Graduate of the United States Air Force Academy. Mikey served for more than 10 years with the Judge Advocate General (“JAG”) Corps and also spent over three years working in, and for, the West Wing of the Reagan Administration as legal counsel in the White House. In his final position there, Mikey was named the Committee Management Officer of the much-publicized Iran-Contra Investigation in his capacity as Assistant General Counsel of The White House Office of Administration, Executive Office of the President of the United States.
Mikey was named one of the 50 most influential Jews in America by the Forward, one of the nation’s preeminent Jewish publications. He also has received a nomination for the JFK’s Profile in Courage Award and received the Buzzflash Wings of Justice Award. In addition Mikey was honored by a distinguished civil rights organization, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, with the Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer Risk-Taker Award for those who have taken risks in the pursuit of justice.
In December 2012, Defense News named Mikey one of the 100 Most Influential People in U.S. Defense. As a distinguished “Opinion shaper” exercising a hard-fought influence over the U.S. Armed Forces, Mikey’s influence has been recognized as exceeding that of former General David Petraeus himself by a publication that represents “the world’s biggest military newsroom.”
As a JAG, Mikey is fully aware of the laws and regulations regarding religious neutrality in the military and other government entities.
He’s also been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize 7 times – twice in one year.
Mikey and MRFFare 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 (420 in total) of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) are Christians. In fact, 96% of our 57,000+ soldier clients are mainline Christians and we fight for them more than any other belief or non-belief.
We also have many distinguished and honorable military members (including Christian Chaplains and religious leaders) on our Board and Advisory Board whom we rely on for their expertise on religion in the military.
Check out our mission statement.
We also have liaisons on almost every base in the world.
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)
TheEstablishment Clausemeans 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.
TheFree Exercise Clause(which is subservient to theEstablishment 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 ofthemselvesand 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 ClausejurisprudenceinReynolds v. U.S.,98 U.S. 145 (1878). In that case, thecourtexamined 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 Clauseby law.
The Supreme Court heard theLemon v. Kurtzmancase in 1971 and ruled in favor of theEstablishment Clause.
Subsequent to this decision, the Supreme Court has applied a three-pronged test to determine whether government action comports with theEstablishment Clause, known as theLemon 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 the Separation of Church and State codified in the First Amendment by Reynolds v. U.S.; Lemon v. Kurtzman; the Lemon Test; Parker v. Levy and AFI 1-1, Section 2.12.
Todd Starnes and others in the Christian media are fully aware of all of the above but withhold it because they don’t want people to know the truth; otherwise their agenda to make our service members “government paid missionaries” and “soldiers for Christ” will fail. They want to bring us back to the days of the Crusaders and make every war a religious one
US Army Chaplain Major James Linzey,who, in a 1999 video, described mainstream Protestant churches as “demonic, dastardly creatures from the pit of hell “that should be “stomped out.”
Just imagine serving in our military, being a mainline Christian (Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, etc.) and knowing this is how they feel about you.
We fight for the religious rights of all of our soldiers under the Constitution, case laws and the UCMJ.
I have attached the in-depth formal complaint filed by our lawyer Donald G. Rehkopf Jr., with more rules and regulations that have been broken, which has been deliberately left out of the media.
I hope this clears up some of your concerns.
If you have any more questions, please feel free to contact me.
PS…I have a black lab mix rescue out of Georgia and we named her Peaches.
Joan Slish
MRFF Advisory Board Member

Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member Mike Farrell
From: Mike
Date: August 19, 2018 at 7:48:53 PM MDT
To: Mikey Weinstein <[email protected]militaryreligiousfreedom.org>, [email protected]
Subject: Re: Who are you? Really, I mean …

Hi (name withheld),

A self-described Georgia Peach but from Virginia. if I understand your address correctly. How nice.

Mikey is kept  pretty busy, as you might imagine, so I like to help out when I can to respond to people like you who, as you indicate,

“don’t understand” why we do what we do.

But first, just to be clear, your postscript argues that you don’t hate Mikey or the MRFF, but then threatens just that if your letter is treated as “hate mail.” That’s an interesting ploy. In the third paragraph of your missive you refer to our “little effort,” suggest its purpose is “to set people against each other,” and assert that it “has no basis in fact.” You follow that with the statement that we “get a lot of credit for fooling some of the people some of the time.” That’s certainly not fan mail.

Do those sound to you like words from someone who simply wants to understand something? Should one assume that is Georgia Peach-speak for an innocent inquiry?

Mikey gave you credit for writing in good faith while noting the “snark” in your tone. I think he was being quite generous.

So, now that the playing field is a bit less disguised, let me try to help you “understand.”

You are correct that there is no state-sponsored religion in this country. There are, however, some who believe there is and more who believe there should be. The mission of the MRFF is to ensure that those who wish to breach the separation of church and state do not do so through the U.S. military. The organization was formed by Mikey Weinstein because of the overt religious bias he saw at the U.S. Air Force Academy which, when he reported it, resulted in his being faced with resistance to both admit and correct the problem. That’s the short version, but it gets to the core of it.

The USAF Academy, he then found, is not the only place in the military where such religious bigotry exists. There is, in fact, a zealous strain of Christianity whose goal is to spread its particular, quite rigid belief system throughout the U.S. military and the U.S. Government with the intention of making the United States an avowedly Christian country and its military Jesus’ Army.

Not all Christians, of course, subscribe to this ‘dominionist’ vision, but when those who do clothe and present themselves as simple followers of Jesus they lure many more mainstream Christians into believing they are all one with the same end in mind. With that, when these hyper-Christians overstep and break the law and violate clear military prohibitions against promoting, promulgating, proselytizing or otherwise pushing their belief system on those under their command, they quickly cry foul and assert there is an anti-Christian bias!!

And some people of otherwise sound mind fall into their trap and join the ranks, thinking Christianity is under attack by the MRFF.

These folks claim, when we point out their violations, that the MRFF is an anti-Christian group; they say we are atheists who hate Jesus; they say we are communists, Muslim-lovers, anti-patriots and, of course, because Mikey’s last name is Weinstein, that we’re part of the world-wide Jewish conspiracy. And for some reason I have yet to fully understand, some otherwise rational people jump on their bandwagon and attack us rather than taking the time to find out what is actually happening.

But we maintain. We do because we believe in the fundamental values to which this country has always been dedicated but are too often forgotten when the going gets tough.

I hope this gets past the snark and helps you actually understand what is happening and why we do what we do. It might also interest you to know that over 95% of the people associated with the MRFF – the founders, staff, supporters and clients – are themselves Christians. They’re just not the kind of Christians who think shoving their beliefs down the throat of others is what Jesus had in mind.

Mike Farrell
(MRFF Board of Advisors)

On Mon, Aug 20, 2018 at 11:12 AM, (name withheld) wrote:

I’m at work now, Mike, and only have time for one comment in this reply. Please don’t put words in my mouth. In fact, I resent it and it makes me angry. I didn’t threaten anybody with anything. When I went to his web site and clicked on the Inbox link, I saw the following links:
The words “hate mail” are on his web site. Which is what I was referring to. There are two categories for selected responses – those from “supporters” and those as “hate mail from detractors”. There is no category for “selected dissenters” like me. Maybe you should look at his web site before you respond to people like me with your own snarky replies.
Do you think that after comments like those you wrote, I will read the rest of your reply? Think again.
I have not responded to him or the other person who wrote me because I have been trying to decide what to say in my replies. I didn’t want to respond as “snarky” again, or be ugly. But I still disagree with him and his stand.
As for my email address, I was born in Georgia and now live in Virginia. Neither thing has any bearing on what I wrote. If you write me again with the tone you used this time, I will mark you as Spam.
          (name withheld)

Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member Mike Farrell

On Aug 20, 2018, at 4:18 PM, Mike  wrote:

Hi (name withheld),

As to reading “the rest” of my reply, it’s your choice, of course. As to what category your message fell into, there’s a possibility that messages from people who are confused or who are actually interested in clearing up differences and achieving better understanding don’t fall into either category.

As I pointed out in the parts of my reply you’ve apparently chosen not to read, comments and word choices in your message made very clear yours was not an attempt to achieve clarification but rather an acerbic statement that read as a judgment. If it was not intended that way I will confess to being surprised. If I missed your true intention I would be happy to clarify any concerns or issues you might have.

Mike Farrell

(MRFF Board of Advisors)


On Mon, Aug 20, 2018 at 2:58 PM  (name withheld) wrote:

Mike, As I have left the office now and have time of my own, I am looking at more of the MRFF site, trying to see if I can get a succinct picture of what it stands for. I feel like I am seeing mixed messages. Can’t disagree with the Mission statement, but other parts of the site leave me confused.

Another person from MRFF wrote me asking me to read a 22-page statement so I would understand the first amendment. As a professional writer, I can’t do that. I make a living summing things up. (long story) I think I can understand the amendment the way it is worded.
Maybe I shouldn’t have used the tone I did in my original message. But as a person who is conservative politically, I am tired of being bashed for my beliefs, and I felt I detected animosity in Mikey’s tone of voice.
While I am a practicing Christian, I would never call myself a “good Christian“. Trying to be a Christian is a daily challenge  – a constant work in progress, not a bully club, label, or cover or excuse. It is not something you work to attain, so you can sit back, a smug look on your face, and use it to judge others. I don’t say this to preach to you.  Those are just my feelings from my own experience.
What does count for a lot is two people having a conversation to try to understand each other. Even if they never completely agree. At least they are trying to make a connection. I guess it’s “preaching” that leaves me cold. Regardless of whether it comes from military brass or someone’s web site.
          (name withheld)

Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member Mike Farrell

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