May 14, 2020
MRFF extends it’s sincere appreciation to 20 Christian Nationalist members of Congress who chose to co-sign a letter to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper highlighting several recent victories by MRFF on behalf of its clients. This letter demands SecDef Esper overturn recent decisions ending religious proselytizing in order to uphold religious neutrality designed to protect readiness, cohesion, good order, and discipline within the U.S. Military. The letter also contains numerous glaring errors by omission of material facts pertinent to the decisions reached in each case with the thinly veiled intent of claiming persecution of Christian’s 1st Amendment rights. This clearly dishonest and ham-fisted attempt at claiming persecution by these 20 Christian Nationalists (most of their names recognizable as being members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus) is similar to previous attempts by the Congressional Prayer Caucus to paint MRFF as “preying on military chaplains” and “anti-religion activists”.
In response to this disingenuous letter from 20 Christian Nationalist congressional members, MRFF President/Founder Mikey Weinstein highlighted the glaringly purpose driven errors and omissions contained within these Congressional Prayer Caucus inspired demands:
-The case against Army Chaplain (Colonel) Kim stands CLEARLY on its own merits. While Colonel Kim surely has a right to his own views on the issue of COVID-19’s origins and “purpose” in the eyes of his preferred deity, it is completely counter to the respect and dignity that all members of the military deserve for him to distribute incendiary material, via a DoD-computer system, that shockingly blames military members of the LGBTQ communities for the virus or states, horribly, that they are somehow deserving of this awful scourge. Such a wretched statement only serves to significantly alienate service members within our ranks and pits soldier against soldier, sailor against sailor, etc.
-We could not possibly disagree more with what the Members of Congress describe as “the Removal of Facebook (FB) Videos from Cpt. Amy Smith and Maj. Scott Ingram (Army’s 10th Mountain Division Sustainment Brigade, Fort Drum, N.Y.) and Maj. Christian Goza (Redstone Arsenal, AL).” While we understand that legislation allows the Army Chaplain Corps “broad latitude to use diverse means of social media to broadcast religious services, messages, and educational materials,” there is a totally constitutional time, place, and manner for that expression. In fact, the MRFF has no issue with the content of the FB Videos in the context of communication by these military chaplains to those who seek their counsel and ministry. Where they have crossed the line is by moving their videos from a page linked directly to chaplaincy activities to the main, official FB page for a military organization. In so doing, they make their beliefs and counsel the de facto Commander-endorsed belief-set and validated guidance for a government organization—completely counter to the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.
-The case of David McGraw (Lt Col, USAF) at Kelley Barracks, USAG Stuttgart, Germany, is crystal clear. The MRFF received complaint letters from members of the Kelley Barracks. In all, MRFF received 28 such complaints, 22 of them from practicing Christians. Lt Col McGraw was, first and foremost, in violation of military base housing policy concerning noise and behavior. On the simplest level, his loud and bellicose Christian balcony preaching was little different than playing one’s stereo too loud or encouraging a dog to bark, thus disturbing the peace and quiet of all residents. That Lt Col McGraw, a line officer, and not even a military chaplain, was hosting “Sunday Christian Porch Preaching” on the balcony of his apartment building—thus making ALL residents part of his “congregation”/audience without their consent was completely unconstitutional and unlawful. One does not have a First Amendment right to disturb one’s neighbors without consequence. By continuing to conduct his Christian proselytizing balcony services, he was, in fact, imposing his beliefs on ALL other residents (the vast majority of whom he militarily outranked)—an abominable act that crosses the line from simple evangelizing to harassing, illicit, unconstitutional proselytization.