Stop it.

We fight for freedoms as service members. One of which is freedom OF religion, not freedom FROM religion. You can be an atheist, I support your freedom in that. You can try to convert others to your lack of faith, that is between you and them. Another is freedom of speech.  No more than anyone will try to stop you from speaking and depriving you if your Constitutional rights, don’t do the same to others. Pound sand with your political threats. You’ve violated your oath to protect the Constitution and it’s rights by threatening action against those who don’t support YOUR ideals, not those in the Constitution. Coercion, misinformation, and blackmail will come back to haunt you.
Focus on a mission of protecting service members from prosecution and punishment for their believes, or lack there-of, thereby promoting freedom of religion. Your actions to shut down other religions in favor of yours (a belief in no God is faith in something that can’t be proven, ergo, still a religion) is no different than any other religion doing the same. Would you rush to protect service members from an atheist speaker? I doubt it. Hypocrites.
Focus on true violations instead of inside agendas.
(name withheld)

Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member Mike Farrell

On Jul 21, 2020, at 2:17 PM, Mike wrote:

Hi (name withheld),
You suffer from a gross misunderstanding of both the work of the MRFF and the U.S. Constitution. Your
message is a pathetic demonstration of both. Contrary to your assertions, we have no interest in shutting
down any religion or belief system. Our concern is simply the maintenance of the separation of church and
state, as proposed by the founders of this nation and supported by the Constitution and our body of  laws.
For people with a myopic view like yours it is sometimes hard to see the difference between supporting and
protecting the right of the women and men in our military to their freedom of belief and opposing religion. We do
not oppose any religion or belief system. But neither do we ignore the attempt on the part of those proponents
of a particular faith, even though it might be the dominant faith in this country, to find ways to proselytize for
their own view in violation of the separation of church and state. You confuse our efforts to protect the right of
all to the belief or non-belief of their choice with a commitment to atheism and a desire to “convert others to
(our) lack of faith.” You are, quite simply, one hundred percent wrong. The MRFF is made up of a staff, board,
clients and supporters, over 95% of whom are themselves Christians. They are just not the kind of Christians
who busy themselves trying to find ways to insinuate their faith into military training because of their need to
prove that theirs is the one and only true belief system.
So please open your mind a bit and stop wasting your time and ours with wrongheaded accusations.
Mike Farrell
(MRFF Board of Advisors)

Response from MRFF Board Member John Compere

On Jul 21, 2020, at 3:35 PM, John Compere  wrote:

For your information, the US Constitution, American law & US Armed Forces regulations prohibit our secular military, as part of our secular government, from promoting or proselytizing a religion except in military chapels & military chaplain channels (for all who “choose” to participate). Of course, this applies to any mandatory military training. That is why the military itself cancelled the unlawful training after being notified of complaints by those required to attend.
Your presumptuous protest is morally misdirected & would more be rationally redirected at those who disrespect & disregard the laws, regulations & constitutional right of military men & women to determine, enjoy & practice their own beliefs.
Brigadier General John Compere, US Army (Retired)
Disable American Veteran (Vietnam Era)
Board Member, Military Religious Freedom Foundation (composed of over 80% Christians)

Mikey, Mike,

Thank you for the replies.

I read two different news articles about this. I searched for a left-leaning article about this but seems they aren’t covering it for some reason. So I had a right-wing article and a centrist article. I took the time to go to your website and read what you are about. Which is why I said you need to get back to your mission statement. Now maybe I didn’t get all the facts.

(name withheld)


Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member Mike Farrell

Hi (name withheld)

You seem to be an intelligent person and I appreciate the fact that you realize you may not have gotten all the facts. I believe that may be the case.

I don’t know if there’s a value for either of us to go through this point by point, but let me lay out the scenario in the hope that it will help you better understand.

These JAG officers came to us, I will assume, for the same reason many in the military do: because they know that objecting to a speaker selected by a senior officer in a mandatory training can mark one as a troublemaker, cause backlash and create potential career problems down the line. This is the military, you understand.

The participants were told, in preparation for the training, to look up the man in question. When they did they became concerned, given Mr. Lorenzen’s background, his reputation as a Christian speaker and his presence on the staff of the Campus Crusade for Christ, an organization that is avowedly anti-gay, among other things. As a result of whatever deliberations took place, they reached out to us.

Having had some experience with the Campus Crusade, or Cru, and knowing, as you may have read, Cru sees the first responsibility of a member of the military as to “Know God’s Word,” maintains that “the purpose of the military is to administer God’s Justice”, and that “the soldier is to be a minister of God who administers God’s justice”, we reached out to the responsible officer to register our concern.

Our intention was to express our view that this gentleman might not be the best person to address these trainees because of his known history and our position against proselytizing in official, mandatory events. What we expected, frankly, was the best we would get would be an assurance that Mr. Lorenzen understood the rules and had agreed to avoid any religious promotion in his training. What we got instead was an assurance that the question would be looked into. A short time later, word came back that the situation was resolved.

Maybe this guy was going to come there with his baptismal waters and try to convert people. But if he was merely coming there to talk about his experiences and his personal beliefs and how they affected him in the military then it was wholly justifiable for the Command to get him to speak. Unless I’m wrong, he was not telling them they had to convert. Their command was not telling anyone they had to convert.

I think you know that’s not the question. The issue is the appearance of official sanction and support for one belief system over others.

According to your organizations actions as I see them in this matter, if a Commander who happens to be any religion reaches out to one of their service members and invites them to a service, they need to be run up the yardarm for pushing a religion on them.

Again, you’re pretending to not understand. We have no objection to anyone offering an invitation. When a senior officer, on the other hand, expresses a desire for a subordinate’s presence, other questions arise.

Mikey, as to your assertion that they knew they were wrong because they complied in 64 minutes to your demands is silly. The fact that they comply to your demands is because in this day and age, if they had not complied, you all would have taken this to the news media and made them appear to be all in the wrong, and that could have cost them their career.

Nonsense. Had Mr. Lorenzen spoken and maintained a secular posture we’d have had no cause for complaint.

We have officers getting relieved because they are related to officers who testified as to what they saw and heard. We have people being accused and convicted by the court of public opinion. I am confident the leadership you spoke to had that in mind.

Your confidence here is based on a somewhat cynical view, in my opinion,

Mike, as for your assertion that I don’t understand what the Constitution means, you are wrong. I don’t think you do. The separation of church and state clause was put in there to prevent the state from establishing a state religion. Not from having a retired military person come and talk about their experiences in their religion and it’s conjunction to the military with a bunch of JAGs. Not preventing people from expressing their religion.

Sorry. Military regulations based on the understanding that we are to maintain a separation between church and state make it clear that religious expression is restricted to the proper time, place and manner.

Your mission statement says as much at the beginning and then contradicts itself further down. As for wasting y’all’s time I am merely stating that you need to get back closer to the majority of your mission statement of protecting religious freedom and not persecuting it. Your mission statement is something I could support for the most part. But your actions have demonstrated that you may not be what your mission statement says.

You’re quite wrong. We do not attack or oppose any belief system. We are constantly confronted, however, with attempts by fundamentalists, dominionists and zealots to infiltrate their brand of Christianity into the government through the military. Sometimes it’s just regular believers in the country’s dominant faith who casually assume Christianity, its themes and practices, are commonly accepted. They, however, are usually sensitive enough to understand the problem with overreach when it’s pointed out.

Again unless I am wrong on the facts of this case, and this was a preacher coming to convert people.

Right. It was determined you are wrong.

I was raised Methodist, attend my local Baptist Church because it’s local, I have children who are part Catholic and part Jewish, some of my best friends are Mormons. My girlfriend was atheist by proclamation until I explained to her what an atheist was and now she’s agnostic. I’ve had friends who are Coptic, Muslim, Wiccan, Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, and Norse. I consider myself multi-theistic, as I don’t adhere to the tenets of any one religion. So I’m not coming at this from some religious bias standpoint. I would be just as concerned if you had shut down any other religion or any other viewpoint. Especially to a group who should be open minded and understanding. I didn’t post the articles on Facebook and didn’t try to get my friends on my side. I reached out to you all directly. So if you feel that someone who is concerned with your actions reaching out to you directly is a waste of your time then that is your concern, not mine.

I trust you understand by now that the truculence is unnecessary.

Frankly the whole thing bothers me for other reasons as well. It seems the JAGs didn’t go to the IG, nor thier congressman, shows they don’t seem to understand how the complaint system works in the military. Instead, they reached out to a civilian external organization who then contacted the chain of command. I am curious if they even brought the concern to their chain of command. Through a conversation that took over an hour with that chain of command your organization frightened them enough to drop the speaker. It took over an hour. That’s not quick.

 

Asked and answered. If you know as much about the military as you claim to, a question of this nature is much too loaded to be handled easily in the system.

 

If these officers are going to a combat zone that is predominantly Muslim and they have to sit through a class on Islam are they going to protest? Did my group protest when we had to learn about Islam, Orthodox Catholics, and Roman Catholics because we were going to a place with those religions? No. Because we understood it was a learning experience.

 

Come on now. That was a strategic question. And you understood it for purposes of self protection In combat and/or sensitivity to cultural concerns.

 

This is likely what this was supposed to be for these officers. This was supposed to be for them to learn from this service member and to understand where some of the service members that they are going to represent in the future may be coming from.

 

Now you’re losing me. That’s crap and you’re smart enough to know it.

 

I have dealt with Reserve JAGs in the past.  My experience was that they tried to bring civilian law into military courts. They didn’t understand half of what they were supposed to. They always had to go and research for a month to get you an answer.  As professional lawyers and not professional service members they had a distinctly lacking in professionalism for the most part.  I’ve even dealt with him at the JAG School in Charlottesville. Many of them are good people with good hearts and good intentions. But for the most part they are not Soldiers, Marines, Sailors and Airmen.

 

Oh, my. So you have a beef with JAGs? Is that what this is about?

 

If a training experience like this offends them, then they may need to rethink their choice of the Reserve as a second career. Because they are going to experience a lot more than this if they continue on.

 

Now you’ve come full circle. You’ve got a beef with JAG officers so you’re inclined to make it OK for a mandatory training to include religious indoctrination? Maybe I overestimated you.

 


 

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4 Comments

  1. Jeff B

    Hey, genius: we can’t have freedom of religion without freedom from religion. Think about it. That’s why the establishment clause is in the first amendment. When Christians are a minority in this country (soon), you’ll be thanking people like Mikey and the MRFF.

  2. Mike

    Except when your religious belief is inherently discriminatory towards someone simply because of their religious background. And by nature your belief in atheism is a religion whether you are willing to recognize that or not. And your very clear intentions to
    proselytize your beliefs in such demonstrates how hypocritical this organization is. Surely you would be educated enough to realize that the phrase “separation of church and state” doesnt appear in the first amendment which you so adamantly champion. Even when the phrase appears in letters from Thomas Jefferson, it is abundantly clear that the intent is to keep the Government out of religion. This is in order to protect everyone’s rights to practice their own religion without the governments influencing. You blackmailing Christian’s for daring to have a podium to speak even before determining whether or not their message would be secular is the exact purpose of such an amendment. You are calling for heads to roll any time there is even a shred of someone’s personal belief comes through their speech and calling it proselytizing yet you appear to be trying to convert our entire government to the atheist religion.

    The separation of church and state exists to keep the government out of religion. Not the other way around. Forcing your religious views on the government is attempting to create an establishment of your religious beliefs. The first amendment is supposed to prevent this.

    We hear politicians make the statement “I believe…” all the time whether they’re talking about taxes, immigration, foreign policy etc. Yet when it’s a Christian person saying it, you call it proselytizing.

    I understand that you have built your business on the persecution of religion so I dont expect an apology of any sort. As a matter of fact, I fully expect one of your team to hop on here and spew the same nonsensical rhetoric that you continuously spew. All the lies that you tell yourself about how 80% of your people claim to be Christian and how you claim to be protecting the freedom of religion. You may believe it, but it’s clear that anyone with a shred of mental fortitude sees exactly what you’re doing. Frankly, it is pretty pathetic.

  3. Grey One Talks Sass

    Mike
    (Who is a Christianist)

    You say the Constitution states Government is to stay out of religion but you refuse to accept the inverse is true which is Religion must stay out of government. The two premises necessarily balance each other but that’s not what you want to hear so like a good Christianist you ignore the one you don’t like.

    Next point: your statement “Except when your religious belief is inherently discriminatory towards someone simply because of their religious background.“ assumes Atheists will do everything you Christianists have done throughout the ages to quiet dissenting voices. Silly human. Atheists just want Christianists to follow the law.

    Easy Peasy amirite?

    Except Christianists want their biblical law to be the Law of the Land as demonstrated when they dabbled in government by claiming the LGBTQA community couldn’t get married or serve in the Military. So LGBTQA citizens have no rights but still need to pay taxes based on your religion? How is that fair?

    (Narrators voice – it wasn’t fair which is why the LGBTQA community may marry the person they love and serve their country with pride).

    Here’s the deal – if you Christianists didn’t walk, talk, and act as if you and only you have the spiritual answer for everyone then maybe when one of you are called to speak folks would give you the benefit of doubt. But you don’t share, you won’t compromise, and after all this time you still hold a ‘my way or the highway’ philosophy of life while at the same time claiming oppression.

    Your cognitive dissonance is showing. You might want to get that looked at – just a thought.

  4. Mike

    Again the separation of church and state was meant as a means to keep the government from interfering with how people worship. Not to prevent them from committing the atheist sin of allowing people to find out they’re a Christian.

    The two dont “balance each other out” as you stated. Think of it this way, the government exists as to be governed by the people. Futhermore, people are governed by what they believe based on their morality. Some people’s morality comes from their personal life experiences, for some it comes from religion. At the end of the day, the government is supposed to represent people of all walks of life, races, creeds, religions and backgrounds. It is imperative that it embrace peoples differences so that it can accurately reflect the people that it represents.

    You are saying that I am refusing to accept the inverse being true while I’m pointing out the fact that you are showing a specific bias to your own religion.

    -It doesnt matter to me who you worship or even if you do. All anyone wants to be able to do is allow for open dialogue regarding peoples beliefs
    Someone having a cross on their personal desk at work is in no way oppressing anyone else’s beliefs. Yet this group calls for blood. However when county council opens a meeting by praying to satan, allah, buddah and numerous others the MRFF is silent.

    I find it hypocritical.

    You say that I’m assuming that atheists will do as Christians have done in the past like that’s not exactly what is happening right now. Do I think it’s unfair to have people in positions of power attempt to convert subordinates to their religion? Absolutely I do. Do I deny that people of religion have done this in the past? Certainly not and I condemn it where appropriate. But show me the law that says that people arent allowed to show any sign of faith while serving in the US government.

    That’s the problem I have with this organization. They are blatantly discriminatory towards Christians while allowing other religions such as atheism to push their beliefs openly.

    Is it unreasonable to expect people to not be offended by who I choose to worship? It doesnt offend me to know that other people believe differently than I do. Is it really too much to ask that people who believe in the Christian God be treated with the same benefit of doubt that President Obama had when he was discussing Islam and the Kuran?

    There will always be religious zealots out there of every religion and denomination. And blatant attacks against anyone for the sole reason of believing in a different religion is precisely why Thomas Jefferson was even talking about separation of church and state. Its important that we remember that the purpose of government was to serve the people. Not to blackmail people into practicing a lack of religion.

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