August 6, 2020
The Nuclear Power Training Unit (NPTU) is a technical school operated by the U.S. Navy in Goose Creek, South Carolina to train enlisted sailors, officers, Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory (KAPL) civilians and Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory (Bettis) civilians for shipboard nuclear power plant operation and maintenance of surface ships and submarines in the U.S. nuclear navy. The Nuclear Power School trains officer and enlisted students in the science and engineering fundamental to the design, operation and maintenance of naval nuclear propulsion plants. The naval nuclear program is widely acknowledged as having the most demanding academic program in the U.S. military.
On July 31, 2020, an active duty naval officer emailed MRFF President/Founder Mikey Weinstein requesting assistance with complaints about increasing sectarian religious proselytizing being condoned by the Nuclear Power Training Unit (NPTU) command at the Naval Weapons Station – Charleston located at Joint Base Charleston:
I noticed a few months back that at my base, NWS Charleston, there are often Christian flyers and handouts on a table as you leave the building. I generally ignored it, but recently I noticed that they have full Bibles being distributed, that are labeled “NPTU Bible” (NPTU is our command). It seems like a clear promotion of Christianity by our command to have the label “NPTU Bible”, coupled with the exclusive access to being distributed at the table. I looked into it, and I believe the Bibles to be distributed either by something called Operation Worship or Gideon’s International. It seems wrong that we should be providing a designated space for proselytizing to sailors.
Mikey quickly forwarded our client’s complaint to and spoke directly with Capt. Stephen Mongold, the NPTU Commander, regarding the immediate and serious nature of this matter. Capt. Mongold seemed rather “unaware’ of this official “NPTU” Christian bible et. al. display/distribution/proselytizing activity going on in a VERY heavy foot traffic area of the NPTU building complex under his command. Capt. Mangold informed Mikey that he would have to confer with his Chaplain, Judge Advocate, and Executive Officer and then decide, perhaps, how to “investigate”.
Due to this absurdly preposterous response and on behalf of 25 MRFF clients in this matter (18 practicing Christians with the balance following minority faiths, including Judaism and Islam as well as non-faith traditions to include Atheism, Agnosticism, Secularism, and Humanism), Mikey emailed Vice Admiral William J. Galinis Commander, Naval Sea Systems Command on August 1, 2020 demanding:
(1) immediately order the cessation of any further “NPTU” Christian bible and related Christian flyer, handout and pamphlet displays/distributions/proselytizing at the NPTU building complex and anywhere else in Naval Sea Systems Command;
(2) immediately order a thorough investigation (including under NCIS auspices) into this matter to include how and why an “NPTU”-emblazoned Christian bible ever came to exist in the first place;
(3) swiftly, visibly and aggressively punish all Navy personnel who are either directly or indirectly responsible for allowing these repugnant, unconstitutional matters to ensue.
In his email to Vice Admiral Galinis, Mikey described the extremely serious nature of these ongoing violations of constitutional and military regulatory guidelines:
As I’m sure you know, Admiral, the United States Navy is a very diverse entity. Diversity is a good thing, sir, would you not agree?! Indeed, sir, to deliberately elevate only ONE FAITH (Christianity) over all others and non-faiths wretchedly violates inter alia the No Establishment Clause of the aforementioned First Amendment as well as the “No Religious Test” mandate of Clause 3, Article 6 of the United States Constitution. Further, this shocking “NPTU” Christian bible, and related Christian paraphernalia, distribution/proselytizing matter also viciously violates well-founded and established Federal caselaw, a slew of DoD and U.S. Navy Directives, Instructions and Regulations, the U.S. Navy’s own vaunted Core Values as well as key provisions of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).
Sir, how in the HELL can you explain the incontrovertible fact that, for at least the past few MONTHS, Christian bibles emblazoned with the “NPTU” acronym have been on display for distribution and obvious proselytizing in one of the highest foot traffic areas of the entire NPTU complex of buildings?! (Additionally, sectarian Christian flyers, handouts and pamphlets are also on full display to the exclusion of all other faiths and non-faith traditions.) Were you NOT aware of this despicable, illicit, illegal, and wholly unconstitutional “official” NPTU Christian bible et al distribution project, Admiral?
Well, sir, at least 25 of those U.S. Naval personnel under your direct command ARE all too well aware and, justly fearing reprisal, retribution, revenge, and retaliation from their U.S. Navy chain of command, they came to MRFF to make their demands that this “NPTU” Christian bible “ministry”, and associated Christian flyers, handouts and pamphlets be ordered to immediately cease and desist forthwith! Quite a telling and sad commentary, Admiral, on the NPTU Command Climate when so many of its constituent Naval personnel are too fearful to reach out to their own NPTU/Naval Sea Systems chain of command with such grievances and are, consequently, left with no reasonable alternative but to come to MRFF for this advocacy aid and support.
[Captain Mongold] is the COMMANDER of NPTU, and he is apparently UNAWARE that Christian bibles (often several dozen at a time) with the “NPTU” acronym CLEARLY visible on their hard front cover have been on blatant display (as well as an array of sectarian Christian flyers, handouts and pamphlets) for distribution and proselytizing RIGHT UNDER HIS NOSE for at least the last few MONTHS??!!
Admiral, this “NPTU” labeled Christian bible and related Christian paraphernalia display is completely unconstitutional as it violates, via well-founded time, place, and manner restrictions, a bevy of bedrock Church-State separation laws and regulations which rightly prohibit such abominable activities. Allowing this “NPTU” Christian bible activity to continue will only further seriously degrade the good order, morale, discipline, and unit cohesion of your Command and will reap a host of Inspector General and EEO complaints and, if necessary, Federal Court litigation.
Finally, Vice Admiral Galinis, if it is too hard for you or any of your staff to understand the enormous magnitude of our 25 MRFF clients’ collective rage at seeing this “NPTU” Christian bible and related Christian paraphernalia display/distribution/proselytizing activity in THE highest foot traffic area of the NPTU building complex, imagine the unbridled chaos, indignation, and infuriation if, instead of that unconstitutional “NPTU” Christian bible, there was an official “NPTU” Koran, or “NPTU” Satanic bible, or “NPTU” Book of Mormon or “NPTU” Torah or “NPTU” Bhagavad Gita, or, in point of fact, an official “NPTU” front book cover label on Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion,” Christopher Hitchens’ “God is Not Great,” or Sam Harris’ “The End of Faith”!? Why, sir, had THAT occurred there would have FREAKING been blood in the street and you know it! [emphasis added]
While MRFF awaits an official response to our client based demands, one MRFF client emailed the following ‘status report’ on August 6, 2020:
I checked in one more time this morning, and the Bibles haven’t returned. The same “The Word” magazines that I sent a picture of are out, but seems like they’ve conceded as far as the Bibles go.
Thank you again for your decisive action in dealing with this blatant violation of the constitution. Because of MRFF’s work, the thousands of sailors who come through NPTU each year for training will not face this kind of proselytization. I’ve been uncomfortable with the public and exclusive presence of Christianity in the Navy for some time, but have not felt comfortable speaking out for fear of reprisal. I am thankful to have MRFF taking a firm stand against Christian fundamentalists who believe that it is their right to advertise Christian beliefs anywhere and everywhere in the military.