“Pilgrim Heritage” Military Thanksgiving Luncheon

From: Active Duty U.S. Armed Forces Member/MRFF Client’s E-Mail Address withheld

Subject: “Pilgrim Heritage” Military Thanksgiving Luncheon
Date: November 7, 2019 at 12:49:37 PM MST

Thank you to all the MRFF staff and Mr. Weinstein for the below action of intervention for the members of our whole (military branch name withheld) unit:

1. I am an active duty member of the (military branch name withheld) stationed at a large (military branch name withheld) installation here in (state name withheld). I am Catholic. Please do not reveal any of the names of anybody below about what happened to avoid retaliation from our Commander. Please do not reveal his or his staff’s names or our unit/installation information at this point. This restriction may change if he ever decides to take revenge action against any of us.

2. I was assigned a while back as an additional duty by our Commander as part of a group of about a dozen members of my unit to set up a Thanksgiving luncheon for our entire organization. Me and most of the others in this military working group recall that last year’s Thanksgiving event was held at our Commander’s off post church annex. All I can say was that it was all about proselytizing the Christian religion. Our Thanksgiving event is really mandatory for all personnel. I guess you could not attend but then you’d be screwed. Our Commander is a evangelical Christian who has a bible on his desk at all times and he talks about Jesus in most all of his conversations with us. He is a member of some large military officers Christian organization and tries to get others to join up as well. All the time. This is very well known about him and it intimidates all of us junior in rank to him even if we are also Christians like him. Nobody among the senior staff will ever dare to stand up to him.

3. Nobody wanted a repeat of what happened at last year’s Thanksgiving luncheon. We in the working group all understand about our oaths to the Constitution. But not our Commander and his staff.

4. First we told the Commander and his staff that this year’s event would not be held at his off base church but instead on base at a large conference area we use for other mandatory gatherings. They reluctantly agreed to that. But the Commander made it clear that Christian prayers would still be prayed by him and the chaplains who he had invited to attend. Just like what happened last year. I and the rest of our working group tried to tell him that that was wrong as this Thanksgiving luncheon is viewed as a mandatory event. Plus our unit has members of many different faiths as well as members who do not believe in any god or gods. He did not deny that it was viewed as mandatory.

5. When he refused to not make this Thanksgiving luncheon about Christianity again as he did last year at his own church we contacted Mr Weinstein at the MRFF.

6. Mr. Weinstein and some MRFF volunteers at our installation immediately engaged with our Commander’s superiors and a couple days later we were informed by the senior staff that they now agreed that Christian prayers would not be used at this mandatory event. We were really happy! We thought we were all ok now. But we were wrong.

7. Just a few days after being told about no Christian prayers we were told that suddenly it was now ok to have the Christian prayers again. The senior staff told us that the luncheon was no longer a “regular” Thanksgiving luncheon but was now to be something called a “Pilgrim Heritage” Thanksgiving luncheon. What the hell is that we all wondered?

8. Turns out that the Commander and his staff had decided that the Christian prayers were fine if the luncheon was about “The Pilgrims” and their “heritage”. We were told that this is a “thing” now and that “Pilgrim Heritage” events are being used all over DoD for Thanksgiving now. And as all the Pilgrims were devout Christians the praying of the Christian prayers would not be categorized as a “religious” matter but a “historical“ matter. Therefore no basis for us to complain and using the Christian prayers was back on.

9. Even worse the Commander told (name and rank withheld) who is a member of our Thanksgiving luncheon event working group that it “might be nice” if he wore traditional  “Indian clothing” to the event as a ”historical accuracy matter”. Everyone was shocked because this same person (name and rank withheld) is a Native American himself and a full tribal member of the (Native American tribal name withheld) Nation. He was angry and embarrassed. We all were.

10. We contacted back to the MRFF and told them of all of this. Mr Weinstein had the MRFF check on this whole supposedly “Pilgrim Heritage” Thanksgiving event thing. Turns out it’s all bullshit. Just a made up excuse to make our Thanksgiving luncheon a Christian event again like last year. Mr. Weinstein reengaged with our Commander’s chain again on this.

11. When Mr. Weinstein said it was now time to do it our unit working group reengaged our Commander again about this. He got angry and told us we were not doing our duties to make the Thanksgiving event happen as he had assigned.

12. This morning we were told that the Commander just cancelled the whole Thanksgiving luncheon event.

13. We are fine with this result and knew it might be coming ever since we asked the MRFF for help in this whole thing.

14. Apparently the Commander is now PO’ed that his “Pilgrim Heritage” Thanksgiving sham got blown up by us with the MRFF’s help. So we know we all need to watch our backs.

15. (Name and rank withheld) the Native American member of our Thanksgiving luncheon event working group is planning to file an EEO and IG complaint with the help of the MRFF.

16. Thanks again and a huge shout out to the MRFF for guiding us through this confrontation. Don’t go away please MRFF because we may still need you!

(MRFF Client’s name, rank, title, unit and installation all withheld)

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  1. Grey One talks sass

    All this Commander had to do was share. Share in the prayer; include every faith and no faith person under their command.

    That is not what Christian Nationalists want though. They thrive on excluding anyone they deem to be ‘not of their specific faith’.

    This Commander and their club of like minded theocrats must be flushed clean. When the chips are down I already know those sorts of folks will not lift a finger to defend people like me for they do not serve the Constitution but a deity they created in their own likeness.

    I know there is no religious testing allowed per the Constitution. That said, how does the Military clean out these folks who put their deity before their vow to protect and serve the nation?

    My answer is to smite a bunch of well deserving people. That would be my Id speaking. I’ve yet to find an answer that results in balance.

  2. GL

    The “Pilgrim Heritage” event is certainly a sham. But wouldn’t a recreation of a Pilgrim thanksgiving include only actual Pilgrim prayers? Trust me, modern Evangelical Christians would be bored to tears by many of the prayers.The prayers are based on a somewhat different interpretation of the bible that is used by most modern Christians, Plus, they would not get to say “In Jesus’ Name We Pray”, because that is not historical. Here is an example. The following is a short Puritan prayer from the “The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions”, Arthur Bennett, editor (Carlisle, Pa.: The Banner of Truth Trust, © 1975, 1988, 2003).

    O LORD,
    I am a shell full of dust,
    but animated with an invisible rational soul
    and made anew by an unseen power of grace;
    Yet l am no rare object of valuable price,
    but one that has nothing and is nothing,
    although chosen of thee from eternity,
    given to Christ, and born again;
    I am deeply convinced of the evil and misery of a sinful state,
    of the vanity of creatures,
    but also of the sufficiency of Christ.
    When thou wouldst guide me I control myself,
    When thou wouldst be sovereign I rule myself.
    When thou wouldst take care of me I suffice myself.
    When I should depend on thy providings I supply myself,
    When I should submit to thy providence I follow my will,
    When I should study, love, honour, trust thee, I serve myself;
    I fault and correct thy laws to suit myself,
    Instead of thee I look to man’s approbation,
    and am by nature an idolater.
    Lord, it is my chief design to bring my heart back to thee.
    Convince me that I cannot be my own god, or make myself happy,
    nor my own Christ to restore my joy,
    nor my own Spirit to teach, guide, and rule me . . . .
    Then take me to the cross and leave me there.

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