Religious Freedom

From:  (name withheld)
Date: August 30, 2019 at 10:30:21 AM MDT
To: [email protected]org
Subject: Religious Freedom
Mikey:  Your Organization would deny religious freedom to all Christians in this country.  Removing bibles from VA hospitals is outrageous.  You are the bigot and hater and supremacist – your despicable actions will not defeat the Christian values upon which this country was founded.  Religious Freedom is for everyone.  Mike Pence is an honorable man – intelligent people know this.  Why are you so hateful?  I pray for you – in this, your darkest hour.

Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member John Compere

On Aug 30, 2019, at 12:54 PM, John Compere  wrote:

(name withheld),
Please be advised the Military Religious Freedom Foundation does not “deny religious freedom to all Christians in this country” nor is it “removing bibles from VA hospitals”.
It would be better if you understood the issue before sending hateful emails to fellow Americans you do not even know. For your information –
Fundamentalist Christians put their religious scripture version in the middle of a secular prisoner of war and missing in action remembrance display in a VA medical center without lawful authority for the purpose of publicly promoting their private religious beliefs. The hospital refused to remove it when veterans, including Christians, complained.
Originated in 1967 by a group of our Vietnam combat pilots, the River Rats, without religious scripture and continued thereafter by the American Legion without religious scripture, the secular POW/MIA display purpose was and is to leave a place at the dinner table for those military comrades and not forget them. It has always been about remembrance – not religion. Religious scriptures can be placed in hospital chapels for those who wish to see them.
The VA, by permitting this religious intrusion on a historically non-religious display, is guilty of constitutional malfeasance because it:
(1) disobeys the Constitution 1st Amendment prohibiting our government from endorsing or promoting religion (especially one over all others) and requiring government neutrality regarding religion (neither pro-religion nor anti-religion, but religion-neutral),
(2) distorts the historic non-religious remembrance tradition by imposing dominant religious scripture,
(3) distracts from memorial remembrance by promoting religion not shared by all POWs, MIAs and veterans,
(4) disrespects millions of Americans who are not fundamentalist Christians, and
(5) disregards normal dinner table settings that do not include religious scripture predominantly placed in the middle of them.
No lesser historic authority than 1st Commander-in-Chief & President GEORGE WASHINGTON wisely warned “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.”
May I sincerely suggest you pray for those who do not respect the American Constitution nor the right of military veterans to be free from religion they do not profess publicly imposed by others.
John Compere
Brigadier General, Judge Advocate General’s Corps, US Army (Retired)
Disabled American Veteran (Vietnam Era)
Advisory Board Member, Military Religious Freedom Foundation (composed of over 80% Christians)

Response from MRFF President and Founder Mikey Weinstein

On Aug 30, 2019, at 12:33 PM, Mikey Weinstein <[email protected]> wrote:

(name withheld), why are you calling this my “darkest hour“… Is that some sort of failed threat?

From: (name withheld)
Date: August 30, 2019 at 10:51:10 AM MDT
To: Mikey Weinstein <[email protected]>
Subject: Re: Religious Freedom

Of course not.  I wish you good health always.   I just do not understand people who would deny religious freedom to others, especially in the USA.
(name withheld)

On Aug 31, 2019, at 11:07 PM, Mike  wrote:

Dear (name withheld),

Mikey shared your correspondence with me and I’d like to offer a couple of thoughts, hopefully to

clarify matters.

First of all, his question about your “darkest hour” reference is the result of the avalanche of hate mail that include threats on his life and well-being, as well as those of his family, that come this way, most of it from people who claim to be Christians. I say “claim to be” because, though they so identify themselves, their threats and grotesque, vitriolic attacks suggest they don’t truly embrace the teachings of Jesus.

So I’m glad you clarified your intention to some degree.
As regards your original message, your opening statement is quite wrong. Over 95% of the staff, clients and supporters of the MRFF are themselves Christians. They are just not the kind of Christians who insist that their belief system is the one and only acceptable belief system and all others are despicable. So please understand we are not denying “religious freedom to all Christians in this country,” as you suggested. We are in fact not denying religious freedom to anyone of any belief, including no belief.

Nor, may I add, are we “removing Bibles from VA hospitals.” Chaplains of many denominations have Bibles, as do individuals. We have no problem with that. Our point is that tables that are displayed at some military hospitals, known at POW/MIA tables, should not have Bibles on them. That is so for many reasons. For one, many of those who fought for our country and are being honored in spirit by those tables were not Christians. For that reason, the original POW/MIA table that those in question are supposed to be modeled after did not have any religious artifacts on them. It was thought then that each person’s personal belief system was a private matter and one should not presume to impose any particular faith on something meant to honor them all. That is still the case.

Mikey is neither a bigot, a hater nor a supremacist. He is a believer in the U.S. Constitution and its doctrine of the separation of church and state. The Establishment Clause, as it is known, prohibits the government from suggesting, propagating or promoting, whether openly or by inference, one belief system over any other. That is meant to protect religious freedom.

So, when one, in an overabundance of enthusiasm for her or his own personal faith, chooses to place a Bible on a table where one was never meant to be, the MRFF asks that it be removed. We do the same when a military officer orders his or her troops to attend a religious lecture. This is not because we oppose the faith in question, it is because we oppose the imposition of any religious belief by those in authority on the women and men in our military.

As regards Vice President Pence, he may be as you describe him. I don’t know him. I do know, however, that the position he has very publicly taken on this issue is quite wrong and I’m surprised to see he doesn’t know better.

I hope this helps.

Mike Farrell
(MRFF Board of Advisors)

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  1. Tom O

    “your despicable actions will not defeat the Christian values upon which this country was founded” What values that are uniquely Christian are you referring to?

  2. Roger

    MRFF is another downright hypocritical group of lost souls. Making a bad situation out of nothing. Get a real job. I’m ashamed to hear your a veteran. I’m a Viet Nam combat vet.

  3. GAZ

    I for one thank you tremendously for the work you are doing. As a non-christian in the US military, we *STILL* face occasional proselytization and discrimination (although it’s becoming better, but far from perfect). Unfortunately the trend has been reversing under the current Commander in Chief as DOD chaplains are integrating into units and trying to use faith as a deterrent to the ongoing suicide crisis. There’s nobody serving on my installation in my faith so I find my help off-base, but I feel for those who are going downrange without support.
    Anyway, thanks for all you do MRFF!

  4. RC

    It is a shame that, as a Vet, you did not learn that the US Military encompasses all people, from all walks of life, and all beliefs.

    This flat out promotion and endorsement of one religious belief over all others is blatently unconstitutional. One would think a vet like you would at least understand the very document which you were supposed to be representing abf fighting for.

    It seems you failed to learn many of the most basic fundamentals when you were enlisted.

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