Eagle Scout’s Memorial

Hello Mikey!!
As the proud parent of two sons, one daughter, and two granddaughters, how do you justify shaming a 16 yr old Eagle Scout because he erected a monument to honor veterans?? He used PRIVATE donations, erected on PRIVATE property in the Monument cemetery.
The Bill of Rights guarantees us freedom OF religion NOT freedom FROM religion. If you choose NOT to practice any religion, that is your prerogative. But to pick on a 16 yr old teen is reprehensible!!!
(name withheld)

Response from MRFF Supporter Andy Meyer
I am so proud that you have two sons, one daughter and two granddaughters.   You are blessed beyond a doubt.    I can only assume the pride you have in your family that you also taught them right and wrong.  You said in your e-mail “The Bill of Rights guarantees us freedom OF religion NOT freedom FROM religion.”  You are correct so all the Veterans who served us selflessly are not necessarily people of faith- any faith… So to imply that memorial although well intended is not appropriate in that place.  At the time it was erected, it was NOT private property.  It has since been “sold” to a private owner…  although I question that legitimacy of this sale….
I can assure Mikey Weinstein father of an Eagle and huge supporter of a local Troop in New Mexico is not “picking on a 16 year old”.
Please (name withheld)- educate yourself for all the facts.  Right is right and wrong is wrong.
Andrew Meyer
Eagle Scout
MRFF Member at large
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33

Response from MRFF Supporter Renee L. Reif

You have been terribly misinformed and I’m happy to give you the facts:

1. No one is shaming the Eagle Scout. The city of Monument, the adults around the scout, and the city lawyers are avoiding the problem and feigning victim status, rather than admit that they made a terrible mistake and work to fix it. These adults who failed the scout, totally ignored the BSA Religious Emblems Program, which intends to teach scouts about diversity and states: 

“He is faithful in his religious duties and respects the convictions of others in matters of custom and religion.”

FYI- I have attached the BSA document to this email.

2. The town of Monument’s cemetery is a PUBLIC cemetery that allows people to purchase the “right” to be buried there. Furthermore, city officials decided to “sell” the dirt under the flag pole to the scout’s family on March 19th, which is an underhanded way of trying to avoid the matter and admit fault. No one is ever buried under a memorial or the flag pole, and, while we can buy the right to be buried there, the city still owns the cemetery. The folks in charge are conning  you and others into believing that they are the victims. Rather than working to fix the problem, they are using the scout as a political pawn to ignore the fact that our military is among the most diverse institutions in our country and members share many different belief systems. 

3. As a retired soldier, and a Humanist of Jewish ancestry, I can tell you that I did not wear the uniform only for you to have your beliefs but for you to deny me my rights. Furthermore, you cannot have FREEDOM OF religion without first being free FROM the religious beliefs of others. In other words, you cannot possibly have the right to be a Catholic unless you are first free from having Lutheran beliefs forced on you. Therefore, your final statement makes no sense. 

4. Finally, there’s a tool that courts use called the Lemon Test. This test, based on Lemon v. Kurtzman, has three prongs to determine if a government action is constitutional, and while it’s not perfect this test gives us a place to begin when we’re evaluating the circumstances:

The government’s action MUST

 (1) have a legitimate secular purpose

(2) not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion, and 

(3) not result in an excessive entanglement of government and religion.

Now, if, as you say, that even though I wore the uniform to protect your religious right but that I don’t have my own right to be free from YOUR personal beliefs, then everything I believe this country to stand for is a lie, and I’m prepared to help the Satanic Temple fund and erect their memorial to veterans at the Monument public cemetery. 

Renee L. Reif

Veteran, Fountain, CO

P.S. Did you know that the VA has a list of nearly 100 belief symbols that veterans can choose from for their head stones when they die? I’ve attached the list to this email.  

Response from MRFF Board Member John Compere
Your condemning communication is morally misdirected. It would be more appropriately addressed to those adults who, intentionally or ignorantly, failed to advise the innocent young Eagle Scout that his project as presented could not be placed on government owned & maintained property as government endorsed (which it was initially) because that is illegal & violates the United States Constitution, American law & Department of Defense regulatory directives.
Please be advised that no one has shamed or picked on the young Eagle Scout. The real reprehensible conduct is the shameful use of this minor by adults in an attempt to violate our laws & unlawfully proselytize a version of religion as government supported which has been unconstitutional since ratification of the 1st Amendment in 1791.
Most Sincerely,
Brigadier General John Compere, US Army (Retired)
Disabled American Veteran (Vietnam Era)
Board Member, Military Religious Freedom Foundation (composed of over 80% Christians)

Andy, Andy, Andy … You need to reread what I wrote.
You are assuming that just because a veteran was NOT a person of faith, as if you knew, that the deceased veteran would be insulted because someone prayed for him or her. That is also assuming that any person at the point of death doesn’t reach out to God.
Have a good day.
(name withheld)

Response from MRFF Supporter Andy Meyer
(name withheld),
I am not assuming- you are.  I believe in the US Constitution.  Do you?  To me this is not just about the deceased… How about their family, their spouses, their children.  As a Christian, and Eagle Scout, I wish everyone believed.. but they don’t.   It is not right to force either intentional or unintentional any religion.   Right is right and wrong is wrong…..  Dead or alive and thats facts!
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God,and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matt 6:33

So every one doesn’t believe. So what???
You assume that the families of the deceased veterans would be upset because a Christian Eagle Scout, using private money, created a monument to honor their loved ones.
In today’s world where athletes spit on the flag, take a knee during the playing of the National Anthem, & disrespect our military, the families of the deceased veterans are appreciative.
I live in a community of retired military families. I assure you they would NOT be upset.
(name withheld)

Response from MRFF Supporter Andy Meyer
Hello (name withheld)-
You assume that everyone does believe.   You also assume everyone buried in monument is from Monument or their families are from Monument.  I understand that most likely- most people will be appreciative.  I am so thankful for the military- however, If there is ONE person in that graveyard that did not believe- that one person deserves the same respect and consideration as the many others who do.   
Have a blessed day

And you know all this HOW? Did you speak to the ONE person? To that ONE person’s family?? How is that ONE DEAD person harmed?? How is that ONE person disrespected??

(name withheld)

Response from MRFF Supporter Andy Meyer
Sigh…. (name withheld)- you are exhausting me…  I just feel like you enjoy arguing.   This is my final reply to you.
You are correct- I do not know if there is someone buried in that graveyard who is an atheist.   Most likely, high probability there is.   That being said-  we must follow the US Constitution which they are NOT!   If you Mary are not aware- the constitution is LAW.
(name withheld)- I wish you a happy life.  I love how beautiful Monument is.   Lets get that Eagle Scout project moved to the private grave down the road.
God Bless (name withheld)!

Sigh … Let me remind YOU that I NEVER sent YOU an email. YOU are the one who emailed ME because I sent one to Mikey.
WHY should the Eagle Scout Monument be moved to a private grave down the road??So YOU can FEEL better??
Have a good life.
(name withheld)

Response from MRFF Supporter Andy Meyer
(name withheld), Emoji
I have already answered you.  If you scroll down and reread what I have already wrote, I feel confident you can answer your question yourself.
I am already having a GREAT life.
God Bless You!

Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member Mike Farrell
Hi (name withheld),

No one here is interested in “shaming” anyone and no one here has done so. Our
concern is not with the young man and his noble effort, it is with the illegality of placing and overt declaration of a single faith in a city-owned and operated cemetery. What the young man made is fine, but it needs to be outside the city-owned cemetery because government facilities may not promote one faith over others.

Just to clarify one of your concerns, the fact that the monument is inside a city-owned and operated facility means it is not on private property, as you suggest.

In addition, for your information, the use of official military insignia on the monument is also illegal, for the same reason. The military does not allow its official insignias to be seen as promoting one belief system over others.


Mike Farrell
(MRFF Board of Advisors)

For your info, the DEAD in the cemetery DO NOT care. Only bozos like you & your organization seem to take pleasure in bullying small towns and institutions.
Visit ANY city/county owned cemetery and you will find headstones and monuments on PRIVATE graves with various religious symbols AND military insignia.
(name withheld)

(name withheld),
How unpleasant. I’m sure your sons, daughter and granddaughters are brimming with pride at your outburst.
For your information, the living (and, I assume, the spirits of those who have passed that care about our country) do care about things like honoring the laws of the land and the Constitution on which they are based.
We’re talking here about a monument dedicated to veterans, which is a fine idea. A generic one would be a nice touch for a city-owned and operated cemetery. But when such a monument is emblazoned with a specific religious dedication it doesn’t belong in a government facility because that implies government endorsement of one belief system over others.
I suspect you’re intelligent enough to understand that. It just appears you don’t like it. (Though I confess to finding myself wondering how you’d feel if the young man had chosen to embellish his monument with a quote from the Koran, for example.) But you see, the fact that you don’t like it doesn’t matter. Like all of us, you probably don’t like stopping at red lights some times.
The law is the law, you see. And this particular area of the law, involving the separation of church and state, is really important. It’s important in part because there are people in this country who want to force their particular religion onto everyone else. There are some “believers” who are so zealous about their own belief system that they think they have the only right and true answer, not only for themselves but for everyone.
The Founders of this country understood that freedom of choice in the area of belief, particularly given the history of strife between religious views in the old world, was a key component necessary for the development of a free society, so they established what’s come to be known as the separation of church and state.
It’s a powerful and important part of our legal underpinning and one we at the MRFF strive to protect every day.
No one here is interested in “shaming” or “picking on” a 16 year old with a nice idea. What we want is to protect this fundamental American principle by seeing to it that his work is either modified or moved to a more appropriate place.
As said, I think you probably understand that. At least I hope you do now. And I understand having  gotten up a head of steam because you mistakenly thought a young man with a nice idea was being attacked. But he wasn’t. We don’t do that.
I wish you well.
Mike Farrell
(MRFF Board of Advisors)

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1 Comment

  1. Jeff

    Name withheld is clearly not a religious minority and does not understand why the establishment clause is in the first amendment. Freedom of religion requires freedom from religion. They also obviously took the lies from Todd Starnes at face value, including the false statement that the memorial was erected on private property. This entire episode shows what many of us knew all along: many citizens do not respect people whose religious beliefs differ from their own, and they don’t believe in freedom of religion for anyone whose beliefs differ from their own.

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