Monument,Colorado

Published On: May 28, 2021|Categories: MRFF's Inbox|5 Comments|
Mickey,
     I think I understand the basic mission of the MRFF. But just to clarify, does it mean freedom OF religion or freedom FROM religion? I don’t understand the opposition to a marker that was bought and paid for with private funds, located on a private plot purchased by the family and done so with honorable intentions that is not intended to preclude anyone from worshipping in the manner they choose but is a heartfelt expression of their spiritual beliefs?
     The young man who organized it called it a “dream come true”, you termed it a “wretched, unconstitutional dumpster fire”. Surely not everything is a violation of something in your mind. Surely there can be a difference in beliefs without one cancelling out the other. Can’t there?
Respectfully,
(name withheld)

Response from MRFF Founder and President Mikey Weinstein
On Friday, May 28, 2021, 01:06:52 PM EDT, Mikey Weinstein wrote:

Hi, there (name withheld)…you’ll carefully note I actually managed to spell your first name correctly, eh?!…so you know, sport, mine is spelled “Mikey” and not “Mickey”…….you’ll be hearing from MRFF folks regarding your specious claims about “freedom of and from religion” ..(fun fact, you canNOT have “OF” without concomitantly having “FROM” as well) and your ridiculous allusions to “cancel culture”…gotta go as I’m a bit tied up fighting people and organizations as egregiously misguided as you, Richard ……Mikey (NOT Mickey)


Professional apologies on the misspelling, not intentional. We definitely have a gulf of differing beliefs but I had thought there was room for a sharing of opinions without resorting to name calling, but I guess not. I of course don’t wish you success but do wish that somehow our differences could be two intelligent people disagreeing. I said my opinion, you said yours. Someday each of us will have to answer for what we do/did. Guess we’ll find out then.
(name withheld)

Response from MRFF Founder and President Mikey Weinstein

……”answer” to whom or what, (name withheld)??!!….your personal flavor of belief in the answer to that query is, well, merely YOUR belief…but it surely is NOT the belief of many others of your fellow Americans and world citizens as well..….remember that MRFF represents a dozen families in this matter, most of whom ARE practicing Christians and also DO live right there in Monument, Colo!!!!…..in the meantime, (name withheld), see the below, keep an open mind, read and learn….maybe you will receive some clarity here?!

 
2/24/21 – MRFF Demands that Blatantly Christian Veterans Memorial be Altered or Removed from Government-Run Cemetery
2/25/21 – Americans United (AU) Joins MRFF in Calling for Removal or Alteration of Christian Veterans Memorial in Government-run Cemetery
3/4/21 – Rabbi Decries Anti-Semitic Hate Received by MRFF / Jewish War Veterans of the USA joins call for monumentremoval
3/11/21 – Support Grows for MRFF’s Demand that Blatantly Christian Veterans Memorial be Altered or Removed
3/16/21 – DoD Must Disallow Use of Official Military Emblems on Blatantly Christian Veterans Memorial as MRFF Has Demanded
3/29/21 – Town of Monument, CO Runs Scared From Cemetery to Avoid MRFF’s Federal Lawsuit with Secret Sale of Public Land
3/31/21 – MRFF’s Legal Counsel’s Incisive Response to First Liberty Institute’s Ludicrous Letter Demanding MRFF Apologize to Eagle Scout
4/10/21 – MRFF Lambasted by Right-Wing Christian Press Over Battle Against Blatantly Christian Veterans Memorial

Stay thirsty my friend……………
(name withheld)

Response from MRFF Founder and President Mikey Weinstein
Stay Constitutional, rational and reasonable…and do NOT call, me your “friend”….I have some…they matter to me….

It was a parody from the “World’s Greatest Man” commercial but it obvious that there is no humor in some people. Resorting to direct insults and emotionalism simply shows that if you can’t argue facts, resort to emotions, which means you lost the rational argument.
 
The same advice applies to you as well. The Constitution is a superb document and the First Amendment doesn’t mean prohibition of practicing religion but simply limits the govt in  not establishing A religion. 
 
Take care…….amigo.
(name withheld)

Response from MRFF Founder and President Mikey Weinstein
On Friday, May 28, 2021, 02:04:09 PM EDT, Mikey Weinstein  wrote:
…again, (name withheld), do not refer to me as your “amigo”…..READ the links below, skippy, and learn….as Patrick Moynihan famously said, “you are entitled to you own opinion but NOT your own facts”!!…we HAVE all of the facts on our side!!….it seems you
have much time on your idle hands, eh?….kudos for you!!…..put it to some effective use and read the links below….DO IT!!

I suppose I shouldn’t try to teach a pig how to sing, it certainly seems to be angering the pig.
Comrade (in the communist sense)?
(name withheld)

Response from MRFF Founder and President Mikey Weinstein

…pot meet kettle!!!

“Resorting to direct insults and emotionalism simply shows that if you can’t argue facts, resort to emotions, which means you lost the rational argument.”

…CHECKMATE, l’il Skippy!!!!   :)   :)


Response from MRFF Board Member John Compere

On May 28, 2021, at 1:12 PM, John Compere  wrote:

Colonel (name withheld),
 
First & foremost, thank you for your military service. The civility of your inquiry was also appreciated.
 
For your information, the Eagle Scout’s project was originally placed prominently on government owned & maintained property indicating government endorsement which is unlawful & a violation of the US Constitution, long standing American law & Department of Defense regulatory directives. Many local citizens, including Christians, encountered it upon entering the cemetery, were offended & requested its removal.
 
This problem was caused by the adults involved who lacked the intelligence or integrity (or both) to advise the well-intended young man that his project as presented could not be placed on government owned & maintained property implying government endorsement because it was unconstitutional, unlawful and a federal regulation violation. It is a sad situation when an innocent minor is used by adults in an attempt to circumvent our laws & proselytize their version of religion as government sponsored & supported which has been unconstitutional since ratification of the 1st Amendment in 1791. Loyal & law-abiding Americans respect the Constitution, obey our laws & teach children to do the same.
 
The US Constitution 1st Amendment provides our historic trinity of religious liberties – (1) freedom from government established or endorsed religion, (2) freedom of religion or no religion & (3) freedom for religion speech. It lawfully separates government from religion & requires government neutrality regarding religion (neither pro-religion nor anti-religion, but religion-neutral). Its genesis was the 1785 Virginia Religious Freedom Statute authored by Thomas Jefferson & James Madison mandating “No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever.”
 
The very definition of a republic is “…a nation of laws and not of man.” – Founder & 2nd President John Adams
 
Most Sincerely,
John Compere
Brigadier General, Judge Advocate General’s Corps, US Army (Retired)
Former Chief Judge, US Army Court of Military Review & US Army Legal Services Agency
Disabled American Veteran (Vietnam Era)
Board Member, Military Religious Freedom Foundation (composed of 85% Christians)
 

Thanks for your civil reply, much better than what Mr Weinstein mustered

I understand your response – whether I agree with it can be debatable but free exchange of information helps to better understand.
(name withheld)

Response from MRFF Board Member John Compere

On May 28, 2021, at 2:01 PM, John Compere  wrote:

Also, the subsequent private sale of “burial rights” to the plot of land (not title to the land itself) by the government owned & maintained cemetery in response to the complaints raises additional questions. The issue of the illicit use of official military department symbols violating copyright/ trademark/licensing rights of the Department of Defense remain unresolved.

Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member Martin France
On May 28, 2021, at 4:16 PM, Martin France  wrote:

 

(name withheld), I apologize to both you and Mikey for coming to the game a little late.  Too many honey-do’s today in the perfect Colorado weather.

I’ll try to address a few of your points.  I think they should be obvious with a little research and objective thought, but that’s clearly not true.
Let’s start by doing a little thought exercise.  Let’s just pretend that you belong to a minority belief group or you’re an Atheist.  In other words, you are NOT a mainstream evangelical, fundamentalist Christian.  Let’s think about how your career might’ve gone and some of the challenges you might’ve faced.  Let’s say your commander not just asked WHERE you went to church on Sunday’s, but routinely invited you to go to HIS church.  What if, at every unit event you attended, there was a distinctly Christian invocation or benediction and all were expected to ACT Christian.  Sure, there were probably a couple of Jews in the room or even a Roman Catholic or Mormon that didn’t quite match-up well with the prayer style, but they were still more or less “people of the book,” and tolerated or even seen as targets for conversion.  There might be an Atheist in the room, but they sure as hell didn’t state that publicly and knew how to get along by playing along.  Now, as the minority believer, you don’t want to convert, but you also want to be promoted and progress in your career, so you feel like you, too, have to play along and tolerate the ASSUMPTION that all are believers of the commander’s faith tradition because he has made it clear through his actions that those that believe as he does get the better promotion and efficiency ratings.
My guess is that, if you’re capable of really imagining yourself in that scenario, you wouldn’t like it too much.  I’d also bet that, in your career, you WEREN’T in that situation (I could be wrong here).  I bring this up because Mikey and his father and several of his children have been exactly in that situation over many years.  I, too, was in that situation for my 41 years in uniform and 37 on active duty.  Both of my sons were in that same situation.  My son was punished at the US Air Force Academy–a stone’s throw from Monument–for NOT attending voluntary Bible Study during Basic Training and then ORDERED to march on the Terrazzo at USAFA with his fellow non-compliant basic cadets in a formation known as “Heathen Flight.”  Seriously.  
Personally, I had to “play along” for many, many years until I achieved O-6 and then, within my organizations, I stopped all invocations at official, mandatory events and directed all to leave any religious (or political or sexual) discussions out of the workplace and made it known that I did not want to know my subordinates’ religious beliefs and would not evaluate them on their beliefs so long as they didn’t bring them into the office.
I was, however, deeply discriminated against once achieving O-6 because, by that point, I’d more or less come out as a supporter of the MRFF.
That’s kind of a long way around saying that one particular religious perspective should not be a necessary or sufficient condition for military service and NO ONE should presume that just because someone is serving in the military, they are Christian, or even religious at all.  It simply shouldn’t matter.  We know it shouldn’t matter because we’ve had heroes of almost every conceivable religious persuasion in our military serving honorably for many, many decades — even centuries.
Is the MRFF anti-religion?  No.  The MRFF is anti-bias and anti-coercion.  In my private life, I don’t expect freedom FROM religion–I drive by churches every day, I see “In God We Trust” unconstitutionally on our currency, and I still hear distinctly Christian prayers at too many public and government events.  That’s all part of freedom of religion, if IMHO, it’s taken too far and still “assumed” by too many.  But, in my workplace, especially a military workplace where there is a hierarchy, power, career control, AND lethality, I do expect freedom FROM religion.  I expect it to NOT be a factor in ANY official part of my job.  If my friend wants to have an invocation at her retirement, I’m cool with that.  If she wants to start our staff meetings with a prayer, that’s too far.  If she asks me if or where I attend church, that’s none of her fucking business.
So, why should the MRFF worry about a Boy Scout project in some little berg in Colorado?  There are several reasons. First, the memorial was originally placed on PUBLICLY owned land at the city’s public cemetery–it became private property as a (probably illegal) move to sell the tiny plot to the Scout’s family as a workaround.  It was sold without competing bids and no one except the family and the city council had any insight into the transaction or ability to buy their own similar plot or outbid the family for that specific plot.
Secondly, the Scout used officially, legally trademarked symbols of the military services without seeking permission to do so.  You can buy items with those symbols, but you can’t just use them anywhere you want–the DoD has very specific guidance about that (e.g., using the Marine Corps emblem at a Nazi rally or selling shirts with it next to a swastika would be illegal.  Putting it on a marble cross and selling the cross (or Star of David or Crescent) would be illegal, too, because the services don’t allow people to make a commercial profit whilst conflating a service’s symbol with some sectarian symbol or item leading to the impression that the two entities were one and the same or somehow in official cahoots (i.e., in a theocratic sense).  The Scout did NOT ask for nor obtain permission to use the emblems,  He just did it (innocently, I’m sure) and no adult provided him with any guidance.
Most egregiously, though, in a public setting, the Scout stated on his memorial that the only two people that have ever sacrificed their life for we citizens of the US are Jesus Christ and the US service member.
I don’t doubt that he believes that.  You may, too.  Do I believe that?  Not in the slightest. 
First, there are a lot of other people that have risked and lost their lives for our nation than just members of the military–the memorial slights their service and sacrifice.  
Secondly, I never served because of any sense of religious duty or even a sense of sacrifice to do so–and I’m sure thousands upon thousands of others are similar to me.  
Thirdly, it’s a PUBLIC cemetery, so putting a distinctly religious memorial in a public area (before the hidden sale) implied that the city government agreed with this distinctly Christian perspective, thus endorsing religion in contradiction with our Constitution’s Establishment Clause.
Going back to my earlier hypothetical, how would your family feel if you (as, presumably a Christian) were buried in a local public cemetery and a local Scout, with the endorsement of the city council and funding from many local leaders erected a memorial at the entry to the cemetery saying “Allahu Akbar!  Blessed Be the Martyrs of our US Military That Are Buried Here.  They Served the Prophet Well, Blessed Be His Name!”  If I walked into that cemetery, I’d probably presume that it was a Muslim cemetery and that all of the service members buried there were Muslim.  If that already existed at your local cemetery where you’d made plans to have your remains interred, might that change your mind a little bit?  What if, after causing a stir, the city council just sold that little plot of land to the local Imam, under the table without telling anyone, and you and your family still had to walk past it at the entrance whenever you entered the cemetery?  Some might not feel all that included and welcome, right?
So, what should happen here?  Clearly the sale was illegal.  It should be voided immediately.  The Scout isn’t at fault here–his Scout leadership and the city’s leaders are.  They should know better.  A clearly divisive and sectarian memorial illegally using trademarked service emblems doesn’t belong at the entrance to a public ANYTHING.  Could you put the same thing in front of a church or on truly private property without a problem?  Absolutely, so long as the city isn’t paying for its upkeep.  So, the answer isn’t to put the Scout in jail or to destroy his project, but to put it in an appropriate location and use it as a teaching moment for all involved.  I’m sure there are churches that would love to have the memorial.  If there’s a private cemetery that would like to have it, that’s fine, too–it may bring in business, while it may chase off others potential “patrons.”
The MRFF’s role in this then is to highlight the unconstitutionality of the whole affair because it affects those that have served in the military (or will serve).  The MRFF isn’t calling for the destruction of the memorial or punishment of the Scout, but rather that the city of Monument act in accordance with the Constitutional principles under which you and I (and virtually all of my family and Mikey’s) took an oath to support and defend.  Whether the whole matter qualifies as a “wretched, unconstitutional dumpster fire,” is a matter of opinion.  Those are Mikey’s words.  I would have chosen other ones, all the while completely agreeing that the entire affair runs contrary to our Constitution in an obvious and egregious manner.
You’re very welcome to have your own personal, strongly-held religious views, as is the Scout, his family, and all of the INDIVIDUAL members of the military and the Monument City Council.  But, NONE of us can impose our religious views (legally) as part of the federal or a local government.
Wow, that was long, but I hope this was clear.  Please let me know if you have any questions or in what way you may disagree with my explanation. 
 
Sincerely,
Marty France
Brigadier General, USAF (Retired)
MRFF Advisory Board Member

Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member Mike Farrell
On May 31, 2021, at 2:48 PM, Mike  wrote:


(name withheld), or Mr. (name withheld),
 
You’ve gone back and forth with Mikey enough to know he isn’t easily pushed around. He finds sarcasm annoyingly juvenile. You began your initial message with a sarcastic salutation and ended it “respectfully,” making it hard to decide on a proper tone in which to respond.
 
Let me assume the best and try to respond appropriately.
 
The mission of the MRFF is very simply to support the right of the women and men in the military to believe as they choose. We are made up of women and men, many of us veterans, who hold a wide range of beliefs, though predominantly Christian, and believe the separation of church and state is a bedrock tenet of our government’s founding principles. We believe the government must stay out of the religion business. We carry no brief for any particular belief system and oppose none.
 
We do oppose any attempt to attach an implied or overt statement or suggestion of religious preference to any U.S. Government entity or position. And we have found over time that establishing such an attachment is in fact the stated goal of a particular sect of religious zealots in our country. Further, we see that this group’s efforts are emboldened and furthered by the actions of individuals, often innocent people acting without an agenda, who fail to understand the larger issue and the way their action benefits those who have an ulterior motive. In these and other instances, we take positions, usually when asked for help, that some, perhaps like yourself, find confusing.
 
No one here intended to create a problem for the young man in Monument. Our initial response, after being asked for help by a number of residents, was straightforward and fairly low-key, explaining that his monument, so overtly and presumptively Christian, was, while certainly well intended, not appropriate for placement in a city-owned and maintained cemetery.
 
Further, we suggested that the monument might have the overt religiosity removed or, failing that, be placed elsewhere.
 
As too often happens, someone took offense and the dialogue escalated, characterizing our position as an attack on Christianity. Instead of resolving the issue simply and recognizing the opportunity for a teachable moment for the young man in question, defenders of the “one true faith” dug in heels, money passed hands and plots were purchased so the claim of private property could be made.
 
None of this was necessary; all of it unfortunate. Surely, as you said, “there can be a difference in beliefs without one cancelling out the other…” The problem here is that this isn’t a question of differing beliefs – at least not on the part of the MRFF. It’s a question of law and an unwillingness to accept the simple fact that ours is a secular state upon which no one’s belief system may be imposed.
 
I hope that helps.
 
Mike Farrell
(MRFF Board of Advisors)

 
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5 Comments

  1. Jared Russell Atkinson May 28, 2021 at 9:31 pm

    I hate to say it, but, I think Mikey needs to stop responding to emails. I fully support everything the MRFF does and I certainly understand that after years of fielding hateful messages from some of the most wretched people in this country, one becomes jaded. But Mikey’s out the gate defensiveness and lack of tact answering, by comparison, a very polite and intelligent email, is counterproductive to the mission. That is, unless, the mission has been changed to “piss off as many rational people as possible.”

  2. Grey One Talks Sass May 29, 2021 at 2:13 am

    Letter writer ‘sounds’ reasonable if one isn’t familiar with Christianists’ ways.

    What do I mean? Well claiming to study the MRFF but misspelling Mikeys name for one. I suppose the whole freedom of/from religion concept could be complicated if the letter writer hadn’t just claimed an understanding of what the MRFF does for their clients.

    This is what Christianists do – they act in bad faith because to them it’s not really lying if they are telling a falsehood to a heathen (real statement made to me in comments on this site by a self claimed Dominionist pastor/fun times. I must have missed the asterisk when I last read the Christian holy book).

    Also, the letter writer left out how local government labor and funds were used to prep the site, how the family was offered an opportunity to buy the plot where the marker is located without following established protocols for such purchases. They gloss over the families blatant Christian message which dishonors the contributions of veterans of other faiths and no faith buried in the same cemetery.

    The letter writers claim of ‘honorable intentions’ sound hollow to me because if the family wished to be honorable they should have chosen a path inclusive to all instead of one exuding Christian privilege.

    “Surely not everything is a violation of something in your mind. Surely there can be a difference in beliefs without one cancelling out the other. Can’t there?” the letter writer asks.

    And there is the slam, the insult, the gaslighting by implying Mikey is imagining violations where none exist; all under the guise of ‘just asking questions.’, amirite?

    Christianists sidle up all friendly, smiling, and oh so reasonable as they do their best to disembowel whomever they deem in the way. I guess it is what their Lord and Savior would do.

    Oh, to address the question “Surely there can be a difference in beliefs without one cancelling out the other. Can’t there?”, I have this to say; if the Constitution is followed, meaning everyone behaves outwardly secular in the public square, then yes, We The People can get along.

    (It is telling the letter writer used the word cancelled. It tells me that they believe life is a zero sum game, that like the movie Highlander, There Can Only Be One!!! I am so glad life is NOT a movie)

    TL;dr IMHO there are more than a few humans in the world that could use a good smiting. Perhaps that’s why I’m not in charge.

  3. ironmoped May 31, 2021 at 12:40 am

    Christians, by definition are irrational!

  4. Jeff May 31, 2021 at 2:23 pm

    Name withheld needs, among other things, to read the establishment clause in the first amendment more carefully. It prohibits establishment of religion. It doesn’t just prohibit establishment of one religion over others. The wording was not an accident. The writers recognized explicitly that freedom from religion is a fundamental requirement for freedom of religion, and that there can be no freedom of religion when government promotes religion in general or any one religion.

  5. G June 1, 2021 at 5:12 am

    Jared, you have too many people in this country particularly in positions of power in both the private and public sectors who are acting irrationally or they are political opportunists who take advantage of irrational people to use for their own ambitions and then throw them away when they don’t need them anymore.

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