Religious Freedom

I am torn between using the vulgar language that was common among Soldiers when I came into the military 38 years ago but I will refrain from doing  so because you and your organization are not worth dishonoring God.   Suffice it to say you disgust me with your vicious attacks on religious beliefs and freedoms that were purchased at great cost with the lives of many of our patriots.  You sir are a treasonous atheist with nothing better to do than try to ban all expressions of faith in the public square.  You are no better than the Marxist Leninists of the Soviet Union, China, and North Korea.

(name withheld)
U.S. Army

Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member Mike Farrell

On Apr 28, 2020, at 8:58 PM, Mike  wrote:Hi (name withheld),

 

I’m glad you didn’t choose to engage in the “vulgar language”; we’ve seen plenty of that from so-called Christians apparently unconcerned about “dishonoring God,” as you put it, but you did make your feelings quite clear despite your lack of a complete understanding of the incident at hand. If you’ll take a minute, I’ll try to help you better understand what took place.

The article from Mr. Donohue you read has made the rounds and given a number of people a lot of bad information. I’m sorry abut that as it has caused a storm of angry and ill-informed condemnation to come our way.

 

Mr. Donohue is wrong. He said, for example, that Mikey Weinstein is an “anti-Christian activist.” This is simply not true. Because he knows it to be not true, it is a lie. He said a bunch of other things that are not true. Let me explain the facts to you.

 

We agree that military personnel have every right to pray. We have no objection to prayer. We object to inappropriate proselytizing. You see, chaplains have a face book page whereon they can do all the praying and lecturing and teaching and enlightening they’d like. But that’s a separate page from that of the unit leader or commanding officer. The commander’s page may not be used to promote one particular belief system over others because doing so amounts to government endorsement of a particular faith and violates the separation of church and state.

 

The speeches in question were simply in the wrong place. Some complaints came to us, so we contacted the authorities at the base. They in turn looked at it, saw what was wrong and removed the speeches. No harm, no foul. I don’t know if the speeches were placed on the chaplain’s page where they belonged. I hope  they were.

 

And I hope this helps you better understand the situation.

By the way, we are not “treasonous atheists,” nor are we trying to “ban all expressions of faith in the public square.” In fact, over 95% of those associated with the MRFF are themselves Christians. They are just Christians who understand the need to protect the freedom of religion or religious choice by ensuring the honoring of the separation of church and state.

I wish you well.

Mike Farrell

(MRFF Board of Advisors)


Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member Martin France

Dear (name withheld),

As a member of the MRFF Advisory Board, I occasionally answer emails directed to Mikey.  I decided to take yours this even.  
First, I’d like to thank you for your service to our nation.  As a fellow veteran, I appreciate you commitment to supporting and defending the Constitution of the Unites States of America.
I trust that, as a defender of said august document, you’ve read it from beginning to end.  After all, it’s more than just the ‘fine print.’  Don’t you agree?
Next, I appreciate you avoiding vulgarity–that doesn’t happen often with MRFF hate mail.  That you expressed yourself with complete, grammatically correct sentences sets you apart as well.
Now, to your points…
The MRFF does not and will not attack religious beliefs.  We honor the right of every American to have and practice their own personally developed religious views, as is guaranteed by the Constitution.  It is that guarantee of free religious belief–as well as the Constitution’s guarantee that no one religion will be established and endorsed by the government–that motivates us.  You see, the Constitution not only guarantees free practice, but also prohibits establishment of a state religion (you knew that, though, because you’ve read it).  Later, in Article 6, the Constitution states that there shall be no religious test to hold office within the government (you knew that one, too, I’ll bet).
What does that mean for those that serve in the US Military?  To me, that means that a Christian is just as free to serve and defend as is a Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, or (gasp!) an Atheist.
If you don’t agree with that statement, then you probably have not only NOT read the Constitution, but you are also not familiar with DoD and service level guidance that prohibits bias based upon religion in the military workplace.  (But, since I know you’ve read it, that’s not an issue)
Now, let’s look at religious practice within the military.  You, no doubt, know that the rights of free speech, religious practice, and political expression can be restricted in the military.  You can’t wear a “Trump 2020” button on your uniform or ask your subordinates for whom they’d vote and you can’t attend a political rally in your uniform.  Likewise, you can’t just practice your religion in the workplace as you see fit.  There are restrictions and they’re there in the interest of good order, morale, and discipline.  Those are important factors in any military unit–and a sergeant major knows that more than anyone.  Along those lines, there’s a really cool judicial precedent that those scumbag lawyers refer to simply as “Parker vs Levy.”  Here’s an excerpt from that: 
“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 that is protected in the civil population may nonetheless undermine the effectiveness of response to command. If it does, it is constitutionally unprotected.” 417 U.S.733 (1974)
Briefly, that means that you, as a Sergeant Major, couldn’t require your soldiers to go to church with you.  It meant that you also couldn’t discriminate against an Atheist, Muslim, Agnostic, Jewish, or Sikh soldier.  I’m sure you never did, either.
Now, let’s get to your last statement.  You accuse Mikey of being an Atheist.  I can’t speak for Mikey as to his true beliefs.  I know that, culturally, he’s Jewish.  Does that mean that his service was any less valid that yours?  I’m “culturally Christian,” but, from a belief standpoint, I am an avowed Atheist.  Does that mean that my FORTY-ONE YEARS in uniform is somehow less valid than yours?
As for those that have defended our rights, we do not disrespect the sacrifice of those that have given all.  In fact, we HONOR their sacrifice by continuing to support and defend the Constitution (as outlined above) well beyond our time in uniform.  It’s true–we take that oath so seriously that we STILL support and defend it.  And we do it for our sons and daughters who have served (mine were AF and USMC, Mikey’s were all AF) and for the sons and daughters of millions of other Americans.
Finally, Mikey is not a Marxist-Leninist (I know him to be a committed capitalist, as a matter of fact).  Nor am I.  We’re not Chinese or North Korean, either.
Thank you for your email, Richard.  If you have any other questions or more specific complaints about our positions and actions, please let me know.  I’ll be glad to answer your inquiries.
And, again, thanks for your service and commitment to the Constitution that guarantees all of us the right to believe as we see fit and serve this awesome nation!
Sincerely,
M France, PhD
Brigadier General, USAF (Retired)
MRFF Advisory Board Member

Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member  Larry Wilkinson
On Apr 29, 2020, at 5:55 AM, L Wilkinson wrote:

(name withheld),

 
I’ve worked with, alongside of, and had under me several sergeants major in my more then three decades in the U.S. military. I recall most vividly the sergeant major I had in Hawaii. At one particularly tense point in our relationship, he remarked that the difference between NCOs and officers was that the latter, ultimately, were in charge.  I’m asserting that reality now to tell you that it is you who not only dishonor your God — if indeed your reference is to the Christian God — you also dishonor your Army, the military in general, your country, and yourself.  That you could hold the views you demonstrate in your email means quite simply that you lied when you swore to defend the U.S. Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. That Constitution says nothing about God, of any complexion, and admonishes powerfully those who do from their official capacity as if they were speaking on behalf of their government.  From your email, I am compelled to believe that not only do you do just that in retirement now, but that you must have done so as well while on active duty.
 
If there is treason afoot, sergeant major, it lies in your remarks and not elsewhere. One does not speak of treason with respect to the Divine Providence anyway,  but to states. Thus not only are you mistaken in the main, but also in the very aim of your disgust. That misplaced disgust is a perfect example of what the fundamental misunderstanding of the relationship between church and state produces in ignorant men and women.  And while such men and women might be prolific in our general society today, we must all hope that their numbers are limited in the military. Otherwise we shall soon have no effective military. That is the main point of the MRFF.
 
On a final note, sergeant major, given your ignorance I don’t think you would know the difference between a Marxist, a Leninist or a Trotskyite, and a full-blown member of a capitalist society such as ours, nor the real difference in their beliefs. In future I suggest you confine your activities and rhetoric to learning and speaking about the U.S. Constitution rather than attempting to derogate those who know it quite well.
 
Colonel L.B. Wilkerson
U.S. Army (Ret)

 

 

Share this page:

Commenter Account Access

  • Register for a commenter account
    (Not required to post comments, but will save you time if you're a regular commenter)
  • Log in using your existing account
  • Click here to edit your profile and change your password
  • All comments are subject to our Terms of Use

3 Comments

  1. Grey One talks sass

    Letter Writer – if all expressions of faith are ultimately banned from the public square it will be due to the efforts of Christian Nationalists, folks who do not respect boundaries established by the Constitution. You know – people like you.

    Now is not the time to push ones faith onto anyone as We The People adjust to the new normal of social distancing. I know, I know – I’m well aware of the Great Commission stating Christians of a specific flavor must proselytize or die (I grew up with that flavor). That said, unless respect is shown for ones fellow citizens, rules will be created to ensure mutual respect is enforced (or as Mom always said when we fought over a game or toy as kids – if you can’t share then I’m taking it all away until you do learn to share).

    Honestly I don’t expect much learning happening from Christian Nationalists as they believe they know everything there is to know about everything. Period. Huh – I thought their deity was supposed to be the only omnipotent being in the Universe. Things that make one go hmmmmmmmm….

  2. Jeff

    The first amendment doesn’t only ban the government from promoting one religion over others. If you read it carefully, you can see it bans establishment of religion – all religion. It is broader than simply banning establishment of one religion over others.

  3. Ironmoped

    For the US Army complainer:
    So religious beliefs and freedoms were “purchased” with the lives of Patriots? Obviously too late to get their money back but it’s in the Constitution! Talk about buyer’s remorse! I assume you’re talking about military personnel that have lost their lives in war. They didn’t lose their lives defending religious beliefs and freedoms, they lost their lives because Christian politicians sacrificed them to a stupid fucking war they started on their behalf. You know, wars that their children don’t have to participate in? Yeah, that kind of a war!
    And the reference to treasonous atheists? So, if you don’t believe in the invisible man in the clouds, you’re treasonous?
    Which means if you don’t believe in the Biblical “creation” story, that’s treason?
    Or if you don’t believe that men have one less rib than women, that’s treason?
    Or that no woman should hold power over a man (1st Timothy 2:12), then that’s treasonous?
    Or any of the other Christian myths?
    I thought treason was betraying one’s country not one’s belief in magic!
    The public square you talk about is just that, public. You know, the place where ALL people gather! We do have these special buildings in the United States that are put up with community funds and taxpayer subsidies where people go to participate in religious programs of their choice. They’re called fucking churches! So why don’t you leave your magical thinking religious views out of the public square? You’d be surprised how many people don’t want to hear your fundamentalist Christian bullshit!
    You can purchase whatever idiocracy you want with your life, but you’re not going to do it with mine!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*