April 28, 2021
In an article for DailyKos, MRFF Senior Research Director reported on an article containing a blatantly anti-Semitic screed posted to the ‘News’ website page of the Washington Headquarters Service of the Department of Defense for Easter this year:
In the article, titled What did the people talk about at the first Easter? Chaplain (Lt.) Aristotle Rivera, a graduate of West Point who is now a Navy chaplain serving on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, asks:
“Did they talk about how loving God is, or how God loves us unconditionally? Did they mention how God helps us through difficult times? Did the apostles go around inspiring others to remember Jesus and to follow his teachings? Did they gather in synagogues to discuss the ethical implications of loving your enemies and praying for those who persecute you?,” and,
Did Peter “give instruction about memorizing scripture verses, going to church on Sundays, being nice to people, stop saying bad words and start being better people?”
Apparently, Chaplain Rivera’s biblical scholarship led to a revelation that these questions of compassion, inspiration, ethical behavior, self-improvement and personal interactions were essentially irrelevant to the main message of “the first Easter”. Rodda’s DailyKos article highlights Chaplain Rivera’s epiphany (…illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure) regarding the 1st Easter Message:
After quoting several verses from the second chapter of Acts, Chaplain Rivera summarizes his interpretation of those verses, addressed to the “Men of Israel,” writing (emphasis added):
“A way to summarize the early Easter message was this: ‘Jesus lived. You killed him. God raised him. We saw him. Say Sorry.’”
MRFF was contacted by 32 high-ranking military members and DoD civilian employees in the greater Washington, D.C. area, 24 of whom are Jewish, regarding this blatant anti-Semitism purveyed by the Department of Defense’s Washington Headquarters Service. MRFF Founder/President Mikey Weinstein quickly sent a demand letter (via an early afternoon email on April 27, 2021) on behalf of MRFF’s clients to Regina F. Meiners, the acting director of the Washington Headquarters Service:
As America still reels on a daily basis from the horrific shock of extremist hate from every corner of our Land, now comes this stunningly antisemitic article printed, not even a month ago, in apparent celebration of Easter by the official Department of Defense (DoD), Washington Headquarters Service. This putrid filth, spewing and egging on the basic foundations of the ancient hated of the Jewish people as “Christ Killers,” is simply one of the most antisemitic, Old School Jew-baiting pieces of defamatory trash we have seen here at MRFF in a very long time. Yet once again, the Mother Ship of fundamentalist Christianity rears its repugnant head, this time in an official DoD Headquarters internet publication written by a United States Navy officer/chaplain for ALL the world to see.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation demands that U.S. Navy Chaplain (Lt.) Rivera, who is also a West Point graduate, and anyone else who is either directly or indirectly responsible for this mind-blowing, dishonorable, and malevolent publishing of abject prejudice, be aggressively investigated and visibly punished with immediate, due swiftness by the Department of Defense.
MRFF verified that the outrageously anti-Semitic article has been taken down from both the Washington Headquarters Service and Camp Lejeune websites by the morning of April 28, 2021… LESS THAN 24 HOURS AFTER MRFF DEMAND. While MRFF welcomes this 1st step in rectifying this viciously anti-Semitic situation, MRFF re-iterated its demands:
1) expeditious & aggressive investigation and commensurate public punishment of Rivera and all of those who either indirectly or directly are responsible for allowing this hideous act of religious racism and fundamentalist Christian supremacy and domination to occur in the first place!
2) the Department of Defense to immediately issue a fervent and heartfelt apology to all members of the U.S. armed forces inclusive of civilian Active Duty, Reserve & National Guard, and veterans, as well as to the entirety of the American people for allowing this atrocious act of bigotry and prejudice to rear its ugly head at all!