Lt. Col. David McGraw

You should be ashamed of yourself, by demanding that Lt. Col. David McGraw be punished for practicing hi First Amendment right. He was NOT violating the establishment clause. What law has been made? None! Here’s the appropriate part of the First Amendment Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. As a matter of fact your violating First Amendment, because you’re denying the free exercise thereof. You are tearing down The Constitution while falsely claiming to stand up for The Constitution.
I’m getting tired of you guys taking away people’s First Amendment rights because you don’t like what they have to say. I served in the United States Navy for 8 years to protect people’s liberties.
(name withheld)

Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member Martin France

On May 11, 2020, at 7:08 PM, Martin France  wrote:

Dear (name withheld) first thanks for your service in the Navy.  As an Advisory Board member for the MRFF, I occasionally answer emails sent to Mikey.
Let me clarify a few things that you may not be aware of:
1.  Lt Col McGraw was in base housing which, in Stuttgart, are really townhomes all connected.
2.  He preached out of his balcony, in clear violation of base/post noise regulations and counter to base regulations.
3.  He was infringing on others’ rights because they couldn’t just leave their homes and it shouldn’t be their responsibility to put in ear plugs because they don’t want to hear him.
If you were in base housing and your neighbor next door decided that his or her religion mandated one hour of 120 dB broadcast Slayer riffs at exactly 3am every day to pay tribute to Satan, how would you feel about that?  Would making a complaint be an infringement on your neighbor’s right to practice their religion?  Even if they were a lieutenant colonel?  What if, five times a day, your next door neighbor sang out the Muslim call-to-prayer using a loudspeaker?  Probably not what you’d expect for a base housing environment right?
So, now, back the the MRFF’s role…  From our standpoint, and consistent with the Constitution, DoD regulations, and base policy, the Lt Col could’ve invited like-minded friends to his home to prayer and worship without any issue (so long as it was off-duty and he wasn’t forcing or suggesting subordinates attend).  They could even sing and preach in his home.  But, what he can’t do is disturb others by his loud, public preaching any more than one neighbor can disturb another with death metal music, or their favorite Osmond Brothers music or Britney Spears tunes, or encourage their dog to bark.
If you have any other questions, please let me know
Sincerely,
M France
Brig Gen, USAF (Retired)
MRFF Advisory Board Member

Response from MRFF Board Member John Compere

On May 11, 2020, at 9:21 PM, John Compere wrote:

First & foremost, thank you for your military service.
 
For your information, The US Constitution, American law & US Armed Forces regulations prohibit our secular military, as part of our secular government, from publicly proselytizing a religion on military installations except in military chapels & military chaplain channels. No military member may publicly force religion on other military members & their families on military installations without their consent, especially in military housing areas where privacy is protected. That is why the improper practice was stopped by the military itself after complaints by many military families, including Christians. No intelligent American adult, especially a military veteran, should be surprised that all military personnel have to observe the laws, regulations & common courtesy to others on military installations.
 
“God enters by private door into every individual.” – EMERSON
 
Brigadier General John Compere, US Army (Retired)
Disabled American Veteran (Vietnam Era)
Board Member, Military Religious Freedom Foundation (composed of over 80% Christians)

Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member Mike Farrell
On May 11, 2020, at 11:30 PM, Mike  wrote:

 

Hi (name withheld),
 
Let’s see. You’re “getting tired” of our “taking away people’s First Amendment rights.” We didn’t do that. And guess what? We’re
getting tired of being accused of things we didn’t do by people who don’t know what they’re talking about.
 
For your information, the people in the housing area Lt. Col. David McGraw decided was his to control ‘got tired’ of having to listen to him blaring a broadcast of a religious service in which they had no interest. They felt they had the right to enjoy peace and quiet in their home units and ‘got tired’ of being disturbed and having their complaints ignored. They got so tired they asked us to help. We did.
 
And now the people no longer have to suffer being invaded by loud religious broadcasts they didn’t ask for and didn’t want, Lt. Col. McGraw has been given a new space in which to broadcast his religious messages, and those who were directly involved are satisfied with the result. Except, apparently, for you.
 
Maybe your 8 years in the Navy didn’t teach you enough about the people’s rights and liberties you claim to have been protecting.
 
Mike Farrell
(MRFF Board of Advisors)

I’m starting to think bots are responding to me. If I’m wrong, I apologize and start out by saying thank you for your service as well.
You claim that The Constitution prohibits proselytizing on military installation. Name the Article and Section or Amendment and section?
As I told Martin, I’ve had officers like you trying to stop me in the barracks lounge and base housing, and they tried to use The Constitution, US. law, and the UCMJ and they lost, because I know The Constitution, US. law and the UCMJ. What we were doing was well within The Constitution, law, and the UCMJ. Those officers were members of FFR Freedom from religion foundation.
(name withheld)

Response from MRFF Board Member John Compere
On May 12, 2020, at 7:15 AM, John Compere  wrote:

 

In response to your continuing confusion, see the attached.
 
“Forced worship stinks in God’s nostrils.” – Roger Williams (American clergy, religious freedom advocate, founder of Rhode Island colony and the first Baptist Church in America)

Dear, Martin

 

I’ll start out by saying thank you for your service as well.
You’re right I don’t know all the in and out of this case. If David was using a bullhorn or megaphone, I can see him being punished for violating noise regulations, but no different than someone playing their music too loud. If he was on his balcony preaching with a loud voice not yelling, than no he shouldn’t be discipline disciplined. That was not Mikey’s first and foremost complaint, he said David was in clear violation of the Establishment clause, in which he is wrong.
Now I’ve had my run in with officers like you, but they belonged FFR Freedom from religion foundation. We did stuff at base housing that they tried to get us in trouble for, and the irony of it the office didn’t even live there he just heard about what we were doing. None of the neighbors complained. Another time was in the barracks lounge, and they made the same arguments as you. I fought back, and won, because I knew The Constitution.
I left the Navy as an AMH 2.
(name withheld)

Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member Martin France
On May 12, 2020, at 7:35 AM, Martin France  wrote:
(name withheld), thanks for writing back.  Your point about someone playing music too loud is spot on.  Frankly, if I’m in my house with doors and windows closed and I can hear your music, barking dog, or preaching, then I think you’d agree that you’re being too loud, regardless of the content of the sound.
With respect to the Establishment Clause, he was violating that because, as a senior officer, he was, in effect ESTABLISHING his version of Christianity as the public religion of that housing block by forcing everyone to hear him.  With his stature as an O-5, you can easily see why an E5 or E-6 would be hesitant to make a complaint.
Now, I don’t know the specifics of your situation with the FFRF so I won’t pass judgment on those.
It may be easier if I just give you the complaint letter we received from Stuttgart.  When you read this, picture yourself as this Lt Col’s next-door neighbor, as an AMH 2.  Now, ask how you would feel if you were Christian and he was preaching in Arabic and calling all to Muslim prayer.  You could also ask, “How would I feel if he was an Atheist and took these opportunities to give loud anti-religious speeches denegrating all of those that bother to go to church to pray because he thinks that religion is the ‘opiate of the masses’?”  If that were the case, the MRFF would be filing the same complaint on your behalf.
 
Mr. Weinstein – I am urgently writing to you to request help with an inescapable situation happening here in Stuttgart Germany.  I am writing on behalf of several families that live on Kelley Barracks.  This is a military post located in Stuttgart, Germany, and is part of the five military posts known as U.S. Army Garrison (USAG) Stuttgart.  Kelley Barracks is a very small housing community that has less than 100 families.  Most families practice a variety of faiths with no apparent conflict.

In mid-March, the Coronavirus ground daily life to a forceful halt here in Stuttgart.  The local U.S. Military population had an ever-increasing and worryingly high number of positive cases of Coronavirus.  The German government, as well as the military command, put most daily activities on lockdown to try and stop the rampant spread of the virus.  Playgrounds were roped off, people were required to social distance with anyone outside of their in-house family, children were sent home from school to be educated virtually, grocery shopping was placed on a rigid schedule to help with spreading, in-person religious services were halted and moved to virtual services, all non-essential services were shuttered.  Military members and their families, in an effort to stop the spread of the virus, complied.  There were many videos on social media from across Europe that showed communities coming together in song.

On March 15, 2020, LTC David McGraw hosted a Sunday morning religious sing-along, for the residents of two buildings that overlook a playground in the housing area of our military post.  Invitations were distributed throughout a variety of community communication methods.  Our military apartment buildings are 4 apartments high by 3 apartments wide.  The acoustics between the buildings is quite extraordinary.  The sing-along happened and life went on.  There were several eyebrows raised because it was happening in Military housing hosted by an upper-level officer. Most tried not to read too much into where this was going.  However, it happened again the following week.  And the next.  At four weeks into this, the song and scripture flyers are now being placed on individual doorsteps of residents to join in to what is essentially an evangelical worship service that is happening outside of the multitude of virtual services being hosted by the Military Chaplains.
Easter Sunday arrives.  It is again LTC McGraw’s Porch Pulpit. Residents that do not want to participate in this version of Easter Sunday are trapped in their homes and forced to be listening-participants.  The only other alternative is to leave your home in order to not be an unwilling participant in a religious service not of your choosing.  Easter Sunday means different things to different faiths and this was very much outside the faith of many.  Every Sunday morning, you are a forced captive audience for LTC McGraw to shout his scriptures across the roped off playground and listen to a selection of religious songs sung by your neighbors who often out-rank you.  This has now been happening for eight weeks with no end in sight.   This has also become a draw for people that are missing in-person worship service, so there are more than just residents of our housing community showing up.  There are people now standing around in between the buildings to participate in the service.  This is very much against the social distancing guidelines set forth for military members and their families.

 

The residents and participants of this sing-along are all upper-level officers of the different branches of the United States Military.  These officers across the Army, Air Force, Navy, & Marines have all been taught throughout their entire military career that while it is absolutely acceptable to have faith and practice it, it should not be shoved on others.  Much less repeatedly shoved on others to the point of it being an abuse of power against others in their home.  They absolutely know that this is something that would not be ok if someone used the architectural acoustics to announce the Call to Prayer of those in the Muslim faith.  If you want to host a bible-study in your home, you are free to do so.  You absolutely should be able to practice your faith.  You should not be able to hold others hostage and disallow their quiet enjoyment in their own homes.  
 
There is a system set up that has a building manager for each military apartment building. This military person is the go-between for the residents and the Military Housing Office that oversees the rules and regulations put forth for the residents. These building managers are active participants in this forced worship service, closing that line of communication for fear of retribution.  The Military Police are unwilling to attend to any noise complaints outside of the standard quiet hours.  There is no way to file an anonymous complaint that does not come back in retaliation.  I could use your help in any way that you can provide.

 

Sincerely,
(MRFF Active Duty Family Member’s name, rank, MOS/AFSC, unit, assigned command and armed forces branch all withheld)
Finally, I don’t know what you mean by “I’ve had my run in with officers like you.”  I hope you mean, the kind of officer that believes in the rights of all, regardless of rank, religion, gender, race, or orientation to serve the Constitution and Nation in the Armed Forces.  If so, then thanks!
 
Have a great day and stay healthy and safe!
Marty

In response to your continuing confusion, see the attached.” I’m not the one that is confused here,  you’re the one that’s confused. I’ll enlighten you. The Establishment clause only applies to Congress. The First Amendment reads “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,”. Congress is the only legislative body of government. This apart that y’all leave out “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. You mentioned something about supreme Court rulings on this subject. Let me ask you a question. Do you think the supreme Court is always right in their rulings. Explain to me how the supreme Court’s ruling on Plessy V Ferguson was Constitutional. If you think the supreme Court has the final say on the Constitutionality of all things, you’re quite misinformed. Read this carefully, because this is from Article 3 Section 2 “In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.”

I’ve had people tell when I was in the Navy that I couldn’t invite, ask a fellow sailor if I could talk to them about Christ, or hold a Bible study in the barracks lounge, and they were wrong.
Martin was kindly to send the letters that was sent to your foundation on this matter. From what I read Lt. Col. David McGraw acted responsibly. He put out flyers for what he was going to do, and the Command didn’t say no he couldn’t do that. From the letters it looks like that there was only a few that didn’t like what he was doing, the rest either didn’t care or the joined in.  The biggest complaint that is saw was the singing. Those that didn’t like it could have turned on the TV, played video games, or other stuff and they would have been able to block that out. They also could have used it to teach their children, that Mommy or daddy is serving this great Nation to protect that very liberty that they are practicing.
(name withheld)

Response from MRFF Board Member John Compere
On May 13, 2020, at 6:54 AM, John Compere  wrote:
The very definition of a republic is “…a nation of laws and not of man.” – Founder, 2nd President & Commander-in-Chief JOHN ADAMS (“Thoughts on Government”‘ 1776).

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2 Comments

  1. A.L. Hern

    “You should be ashamed of yourself, by demanding that Lt. Col. David McGraw be punished for practicing hi First Amendment right. He was NOT violating the establishment clause.”

    Really? And what about everyone ELSE’S First Amendment right NOT to have to listen to McGraw’s braying, both on religious grounds AND as a simple matter of disturbing the peace?

    It’s SO easy to defend the things you yourself want to advance, and SO hard to understand the rights and feelings of others when it’s inconvenient.

  2. Shawna

    I hate to be any of you involved in this disgusting organization, who hears the word Jesus , and attacks , on judgement Day. I will be writing my own letter to the Secretary of the Air Force, The President of the United States , and whoever else needs to hear the fact that you are just discriminators of JESUS and those who speak of him .

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