Manchester memorial

From:  (name withheld)
Subject: Manchester memorial
Date: May 10, 2019 at 4:07:40 AM MDT


Hi Mikey,
I am reaching out to you based upon what I have heard about from news organizations and your own website about the controversy surrounding the Bible on display at the WWII memorial in Manchester. Although I am an Atheist, I find your organization’s attempt to remove this artifact outrageous. Of course I agree with MRFFs goal statement in that pressuring the spread of any religion is not moral, but what your organization is doing, through the extent of litigation, is a very unsettling example of suppression, representing a lot of what is wrong with the world as it is today. Ironically, this sort of suppression parallels with that inspired by religion throughout history to control the masses. My goal in this email is not to create further tension, but rather compel you to keep an open mind to other point of views. I understand that this is a mere email from a stranger who disagrees with you, but I hope that you will take this into consideration and, if you get around to reading this and feel the inclination to further dialogue, respond with your thoughts. I do appreciate the surface intentions of MRFF, I just fear seeing the world, and the United States especially, fall victim to further suppression and censorship. 
Thank you for your time and thoughts
(name withheld)

Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member John Compere

On May 10, 2019, at 7:49 AM, John Compere  wrote:

(name withheld),
Thank you for your communication. Please be advised the Military Religious Freedom Foundation opposes evangelical Christians putting their religious scripture versions in the middle of non-religious POW/MIA remembrance displays to publicly proselytize their private religious beliefs for many valid reasons, including the following –
It is wrong (& illegal) because it (1) disobeys the US Constitution, US Armed Forces regulations & American law which prohibit our government from endorsing or promoting a religion, (2) distorts the original non-religious purpose of POW/MIA remembrance by promoting their private religious scripture versions, (3) distracts from non-religious POW/MIA remembrance by promoting religious beliefs not shared by all POWs, MIAs, military members & Americans, (4) disregards common dinner table settings that do not include religious scripture in the middle of them, & (5) disrespects millions of Americans (military & civilian) who are not evangelical Christians.
“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 any instances would compel men to a mode of Worship which they do not profess.” – 1st President & Commander-in-Chief GEORGE WASHINGTON
Most Sincerely,
Brigadier General John Compere, US Army (Retired)
Disabled American Veteran (Vietnam Era)
Advisory Board Member, Military Religious Freedom Foundation

Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member Marty France

On May 10, 2019, at 7:56 AM, Martin France wrote:

(name withheld),
Mikey (and I) are very busy, but occasionally I help him and answer some emails.  I, too, am an atheist.  What I don’t think you understand is that the MRFF isn’t suppressing anything except the rights of some to impose a perception on all that a SPECIFIC religious belief has some higher or stronger importance in the lives of military personnel and especially in providing strength to POWs and MIAs than others.  A bible on a table as the one and only representation of mental/spiritual strength tells me that some thing that those that use or depend upon a christian bible are somehow more worthy of respect and “memorialization” that those that are non-religious or gain their strength from another scriptural source.  I know MANY incredibly strong atheist veterans and current active duty folks that feel differently.  At a place like a VA treatment facility, it also sends the implicit message that those who are christian are somehow more welcome at the facility than non-christians.  That, my friend, is counter to our Constitution’s Establishment Clause and hence, the law suit.
If there was some single object we could put on a table to represent mental/spiritual strength for ALL who serve, I’d be all for it.  For me, the only thing I can think of would be a pocket-sized version of the Constitution.  The Koran, Bible, Torah, or any of hundreds of other religious texts wouldn’t do it for me–but we could all agree, I think, on the Constitution, since THAT is the document and set of ideas that we all have in common and to which we’ve all sworn our allegiance in taking our oaths.
Thanks for writing.  Thanks for the civil tone.  And thanks for caring.
Marty France
37-Year Air Force Veteran

Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member Mike Farrell
On May 10, 2019, at 5:30 PM, Mike  wrote:

Hi (name withheld),

Mikey has asked me to respond as he’s under attack and busy.

I think I get what you’re saying, but I’m not quite sure. You think our action is outrageous? If you agree that the implied promotion of one belief system over others by the government or government institutions is an improper violation of the separation of church and state, does one stop opposing it when the going gets tough? You seem to disagree with the MRFF filing suit in this matter, saying it is somehow an “unsettling example of suppression.” Suppression of what? Of a violation of the separation of church and state? Is there a degree of such a violation that one shouldn’t care about?

Or are you just opposed to the going to court part? If that’s the case, why?

You suggest Mikey needs to “keep an open mind to other point of views (sic).” Are you suggesting then that if someone’s point of view is that all veterans, no matter their belief or non-belief, are properly honored by the placement of a bible on a memorial to them? What if their point of view is that all people who are not Christians do not count? If you’ll examine the premise carefully, I think you’ll find it’s the same thing.

What we’re dealing with here is an aggressive agenda on the part of a fundamentalist sect of Christians who believe theirs is the only proper belief system and everyone else doesn’t count. Not everyone who promotes her or his own faith believes that way, but many Christians fall victim to the strategic assault orchestrated by this group, believing that the MRFF hates Christians and Christianity. Many think we’re all atheists like you. Neither is true. We are people of many faiths and belief systems who think the Founders were correct in protecting the right of all Americans to believe or not believe as they choose.

And we don’t want to ignore the camel sticking his nose under the tent in this manner, if you take my meaning.


Mike Farrell

(MRFF Board of Advisors)

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