MRFF Assists Clients in Ending Sectarian Religious Proselytizing by Superior Officer to ‘Captive’ Audience During Stay-at-Home Orders Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

May 8, 2020

MRFF President/Founder Mikey Weinstein was contacted by 28 active duty military clients regarding an Air Force Officer who took advantage of the Stay-at-Home order at the Kelley Barracks on USAG Stuttgart, Germany to proselytize his version of Christianity by leading Sunday evangelical service from their balcony every Sunday.  One of the 28 MRFF clients described these services and living environment around this Air Force Officer in an email on April 28, 2020:

We live in stairwell housing in an overseas location.  You aren’t given a choice where you are allowed to live if housing is available when you arrive.  On the particular base that I live on, it is all 5 bedroom apartments for families of 4 children or more.

Since the forced stay at home orders of COVID-19, we have an Air Force Officer that leads a Sunday evangelical service from their balcony every Sunday.  It is 15 minutes of religious singing followed by another 15 minutes of shouting of scriptures.  Their children run around passing out flyers.  This is the same family that hands out damnation dollars during the annual Halloween trick or treating on post every year.  The buildings are not air-conditioned and for temperature regulation, you need to have windows open/cracked.  There is no way to avoid this Sunday service if your building is co-located.

Of the 28 MRFF clients in this matter, 21 are Christian along with members of the Jewish, Islamic, and Native American faiths as well as those who follow non-faith traditions such as Atheism, Agnosticism, and Secular Humanism.

On May 5, 2020 Mikey contacted the Commander of the United States Army Garrison (USAG), Stuttgart, Germany (Colonel Jason W. Condrey) via phone regarding the sectarian religious proselytizing activities by USAF Lt. Col. David McGraw.  This phone call was immediately followed by a demand letter to Col. Condrey detailing the constitutional and regulatory violations of Lt. Col. McGraw’s religious proselytizing of his particularly favored version of the Christian faith to an ABSOLUTELY CAPTIVE AUDIENCE at Kelley barracks:

Lt. Col. McGraw’s “Sunday Christian Porch Preaching” shouting/proselytizing, as well as his unlawful actions of directly placing copies of each Sunday’s Christian Porch Service and accompanying Christian song sheets at the doors of EVERY resident in his Kelley Barracks apartment building(s) (again, the vast majority of whom are his military subordinates), are literally ripping asunder the good order, morale, discipline, and unit cohesion of those DoD personnel under your command at USAG Stuttgart!

Based upon clear violations of (1) the No Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution; (2) all applicable construing Federal case law; (3) a plethora of DoD and USAF Directives, Instructions, and Regulations; (4) the Core Values of the United States Army and Air Force; as well as, (5) the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), MRFF demanded that the USAG Stuttgart Commander:

1) order Lt. Col. David McGraw to immediately cease and desist from any further heinous violations, as well as

2) investigation and visible punishment of any others under your USAG Stuttgart command who have directly or indirectly enabled Lt. Col. McGraw in his unconstitutional “Sunday Porch Preaching” Christian proselytizing activities.

After MRFF’s demand to his commanding officer, Lt. Col. McGraw delivered a letter of ‘apology’ on May 8, 2020 to his neighbors informing them that he is stopping his Sunday “Porch Preaching” (video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vii_9Q_03NI&feature=youtu.be), Mikey described the self-serving nature of Lt. Col. McGraw’s ‘apology’:

MRFF finds the unsolicited hard copy message of Lt. Col. McGraw’s “apology”, which he left on the front door step of his Kelley Barracks neighbors this morning, to be, at best, obviously disingenuous and, at worst, blatantly dishonest. It seems that Lt. Col. McGraw intentionally engineered the self-serving wording of that hard copy “apology” to quite efficiently serve as a useful and beneficial accelerant to swiftly cast himself in the clothes of a martyr for the cause of Christ. MRFF and its clients want to know and be assured that Lt. Col. McGraw, and all other military and/or civilian personnel who indirectly or directly enabled his miserably divisive, unconstitutional “Sunday Christian Porch Proselytizing” (Kelley Barracks Building Managers, this means YOU!), have been justly punished by the military command chain at USAG Stuttgart.

One of MRFF’s active duty military clients clearly justified Mikey’s statement and continued demand for punishment in an email after receiving Lt. Col. McGraw’s ‘apology’:

I want to take a moment to thank you and everyone at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation for your facilitation of stopping the weekly religious service being forced upon residents here on Kelley Barracks.  Your rapid response and ability to collaborate with those with the ability to stop the services from continuing is appreciated beyond measure.

The blowback has been fierce and several residents that were participants in the services are largely angry that someone used an alternate path for asking these services to be stopped.  Their hostile responses displaying vehemence and loathing solidify exactly why we came to you vs trying to chase this through the military system.  All Kelley Barracks residents received a notice this morning on our doorsteps that “the music will be moved to another location” from LTC McGraw.

We are optimistic that with your assistance, our local Garrison team, tenant units, and legal scholars will share with the community exactly how this was more than just a noise complaint for education, as well as to stop retaliatory services from springing up in place of the current situation.   We also would like to see a program put into place that would allow extraordinarily sensitive complaints to be put forth completely anonymously without retaliation.  This very situation proved our fears were without question, absolutely founded in reality.  We would also like to see a change in the housing liaison program.  This could have all been stopped with immediacy if these managers involved would have used their own integrity and military knowledge that this was something that should have not been happening, much less continuing on for 8 weeks straight.
We want to reiterate that we are not anti-religion; we all hold our varied faiths close and dear to our hearts.  We encourage others to seek fellowship, worship, and service in appropriate venues during times that are not easy.

Be well and thank ALL of you at the MRFF so much for your kindness!

 


 

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