March 29, 2021
On October 14, 2020, Ben Farrell of the Tri-Lakes Tribune/Colorado Springs Gazette reported on Michael Carlson’s Eagle Scout Project:
…a veterans memorial inside Monument [Colorado] Cemetery, was gifted to the town Oct. 3 during a ceremony at the site, aided by other scouts and leaders of Boy Scout Troop 8 of St. Matthias Episcopal Church.
The memorial is a crescent stonewall which outlines a half circle of stone pavers. At one end of the wall is a headstone which is engraved with the sentences, “Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you, Jesus Christ and the American soldier. One died for your soul, the other died for your freedom. We honor those who made freedom a reality.”
MRFF was contacted by a number of El Paso County Active Duty and Reserve/National Guard military personnel as well as veterans regarding the matter. One MRFF client described the situation in an email to MRFF on February 24, 2021:
The project clearly was one sided and didn’t take into account all the many faiths or atheists of the great men and women who sacrificed their entire life to serve the United States of America and are buried there. As a Scoutmaster for over 20 years, I have mentored over 100 Eagle Scout projects. This should have been stopped in the early process of this youth’s idea.
Most of MRFF’s clients in this matter are residents of the Town of Monument and are also practitioners of the Christian faith. MRFF President/Founder Mikey Weinstein sent a demand letter on behalf of MRFF clients to the Town of Monument’s Mayor Don Wilson on February 23, 2021:
It is simply unconstitutional for your Town to be using taxpayer funds to promote any religious faith, as herein, Christianity. The obviously and incontrovertibly sectarian, Christian proselytizing message of that Veterans Memorial would be absolutely fine in a private cemetery, but in a publicly maintained and controlled cemetery, as in this instant matter, it is quite unconstitutional and illegal.
In addition to the egregious Constitutional violation of this Christian-supremacy religious monument being initially constructed, located and maintained on government (Town of Monument) property, its open display of the trademarked Department of Defense military branch emblems is in violation of Department of Defense Instruction (DoDI) 5535.12, “DoD Branding and Trademark Licensing Program Implementation,” Section 2.d. of which states (emphasis added):
“In accordance with subpart 2635.702 of Title 5, Code of Federal Regulations (Reference (i)), DoD marks may not be licensed for use in a manner that creates a perception of DoD endorsement of any non-federal entity or its products and services. DoD marks may not be licensed for any purpose intended to promote ideological movements, sociopolitical change, religious beliefs (including non-belief), specific interpretations of morality, or legislative/statutory change. …”
Accordingly, Mayor Wilson, MRFF demands that you immediately remedy these noxious unconstitutional and DoD regulation violations by either expeditiously removing that memorial or altering its current unconstitutional Christian proselytizing message to comply with the United States Constitution’s First Amendment (No Establishment Clause) and DoD regulations regarding trademark and licensing mandates.
MRFF’s demands to the Town of Monument were quickly joined by both Americans United for Separation of Church & State and Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. As a result of the Town of Monument failing to respond to MRFF’s demands with a reasonable amount of time, Mikey released the following statement on March 10, 2021:
MRFF gave the Town of Monument, Colorado 7 business days to get back to us as to how they plan to fix this wretched, unconstitutional dumpster fire. The deadline has passed. MRFF is presently preparing to file a Federal lawsuit against the Town in Federal District Court in Denver, Colorado. MRFF is also in direct discussions with the Pentagon regarding this veterans memorial’s wholly illegal violation of DoD trademark licensing regulations by illicitly hijacking the logos of the United States military branches in a further unconstitutional gambit/scheme to get the American military to endorse and validate the fundamentalist Christian nationalist message of supremacy, dominance, exclusivity and exceptionalism of that memorial monument.
On March 29, 2021, Pam Zubeck reported for the Colorado Springs Independent that “The town of Monument has issued a letter saying it won’t remove the memorial placed in the town-owned cemetery bearing a Christian message….” The letter, included with Zubeck’s article, was issued by First Liberty Institute and indicated that “We [Stephanie N. Taub, Senior Counsel] represent the Town of Monument on this issue” and that the “Town of Monument Demands MRFF Apologize to Eagle Scout for Disrespectful Statements About His Private Veterans Memorial”… In response, Mikey quickly emailed Stephanie Taub of First Liberty Institute and put her on direct notice of her responsibility to make sure her clients see MRFF’s response to their demand for an apology:
TOWN OF MONUMENT, CO RUNS SCARED FROM CEMETERY TO AVOID MRFF’s FEDERAL LAWSUIT WITH SECRET SALE OF PUBLIC LAND
This secret sale of public land was hurried through to completion just 10 days ago on March 19, 2021, in an effort by the Town of Monument and/or others associated with this sordid unconstitutional matter to escape the dire consequences as defendants in a surefire Federal lawsuit brought by MRFF and its client complainants, most of whom live in the Town of Monument and are also practicing Christians.
In addition to this quick dismissal of the Town of Monument’s (…and First Liberty Institute’s) ridiculous demand for an apology, Mikey quickly added to MRFF’s demands on behalf of our clients:
MRFF now demands to know from the Town of Monument:
(1) what the sales price for that land was (and it BETTER have been at fair market value)? and,
(2) who will be maintaining that now private Christian-proselytizing Veterans Memorial and its surrounding grounds as any such public maintenance funds from the Town of Monument would be strictly prohibited by inter alia the No Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution? and,
(3) what clearly observable measures will the Town of Monument be immediately employing to ensure that visitors to its cemetery will be able to have clarity that this sectarian Christian-proselytizing Veterans Memorial does NOT belong to the Town of Monument as it now resides on private property?
Lastly, the fact that this sectarian Christian-proselytizing Veterans Memorial is now “suddenly” situated on private land in NO WAY relieves the new owners (the Boy Scout’s family, presumably) from complying with the DoD regulations to immediately remove the logos of the military branches from this Veterans Memorial and seek trademark licensing approval from DoD. The chances that DoD will approve such a request are essentially zero as the DoD regs make it perfectly clear that use of its military branch logos cannot be used to further any partisan religious or political objectives.