"When one proudly dons a U.S. Military uniform, there is only one religious symbol: the American flag. There is only one religious scripture: the American Constitution. Finally, there is only one religious faith: American patriotism."
MRFF Founder and President, Michael L. "Mikey" Weinstein
From: (name withheld) Date: June 6, 2021 at 4:30:26 PM MDT To:[email protected] Subject:Cemetery memorial
Hello, fellow veteran here and I just read an article in regards to a memorial that was erected to honor the grandfather of 16 year old, Michael Carlson in Monument, Colorado. I’m confused as to why you would have an issue with this young man’s personal thoughts for his grandpa and his 1st Amendment rights of freedom of speech and religion. I served in the Navy and Air Force Reserves and I did so to defend the aforementioned freedoms of my fellow Americans. I’m not particularly religious but I do consider myself a freedom loving Conservative and I don’t agree with the unkind words you have for this young man’s ambitions and accomplishments. He didn’t do anything wrong and he has the right to do what he did as a Citizen of the greatest country on Earth.
In today’s day and age when we’re seeing so much hate everywhere in this country, we are seeing relentless attacks on everything that has made America what it is and in my personal opinion, we simply don’t need this kind of division anymore. Many of our service member brothers and sisters have served and embraced their religious beliefs to give them the strength to do so and it’s not for us to attack and marginalize their beliefs. Please Sir, I don’t know you but I feel your heart is the right place but this isn’t the fight at hand as we have MUCH bigger issues to address to defend those Stars and Stripes. Nonetheless, I thought I’d give you my two cents and I hope you reconsider your position here and stand down and leave this family be.
Response from MRFF Board Member John Compere
On Jun 6, 2021, at 6:16 PM, John Compere wrote:
First & foremost, thank you for your past military service. Your civility was also appreciated. The monument was originally placed prominently on government owned & operated property indicating government endorsement violating the US Constitution, American law & Department of Defense regulatory directives. Many local citizens, including Christians, encountered it upon entering the cemetery, objected to its illegality & requested removal. The subsequent private sale of “burial rights” to the public plot of land (not title to the land) by the government in response to the complaints raises additional legal questions. The unlawful use of official military department symbols on the monument violates copyright/trademark/licensing rights of the Department of Defense & remains unresolved.
This problem was created by the irresponsible adults involved who failed to advise a well-intended young Eagle Scout his project could not be placed on government owned & maintained property implying government endorsement because it was unconstitutional, unlawful & a federal regulation violation. Unfortunately, this innocent minor wasused by adults in an attempt to circumvent our laws & publicly 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.
Thank you for your communication.
Most Sincerely,Brigadier General John Compere, Judge Advocate General’s Corps, US Army (Retired) Former Chief Judge, US Army Court of Military Review & US Army Legal Services AgencyDisabled American Veteran (Vietnam Era)Board Member, Military Religious Freedom Foundation (85% Christians)
Response from MRFF Supporter
On Jun 6, 2021, at 8:40 PM, (name withheld) wrote:
Dear (name withheld), I am responding to your email as a friend and associate of Mr. Weinstein. Since you displayed a courteous tone I will be courteous with you. I have no beef with you and I served for 39 years, 4 months and 6 days of unbroken service in the active Army, the National Guard, Army Reserve, and the the active duty Navy. I have served as an enlisted man, a Medical Service Corps and Armor Officer in the Army before I became a Chaplain in 1992. In my prior capacity I served as a platoon leader, company executive officer, company commander, and brigade and battalion staff officer. I gave up my gold oak leaf as a Major in the Army Reserve after spending almost two years mobilized or on active duty for special work in February 1999 to serve as a Navy Chaplain, taking a reduction in rank to Navy Lieutenant to do so. I retired at the end of December as a Commander. In addition to being a Chaplain I am also a historian. My Dean at the Joint Forces Staff College where I taught ethics to senior officers and led the Gettysburg Staff Ride said that I was a historian masquerading as a Chaplain, not that there was anything wrong with that, but I digress. In my career I have served in peace and been in combat, serving as the Chaplain to Marine and Army advisors in the Badlands of Al Anbar Province during 2007-2008. I am a Christian, a Priest and I have received death threats for protecting religious and civil rights, and I had a member of a military chapel congregation lie about what I said in a sermon. He reported me to my command and demanded that I be tried by Court Martial. I had to go through the ordeal of a full investigation which exonerated me because his lies were so blatant that nobody in the congregation present that day corroborated his story. Unfortunately the author of the article you read in World Net Daily is that kind of man. He and that organization play on people’s emotions and misrepresent the law and truth. Mr. Weinstein is an honor graduate of the Air Force Academy. He served on Active Duty for ten years as a JAG officer. His father was a graduate of the Naval Academy and was commissioned in the Air Force where he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel. They are Jewish, and Mr. Weinstein heads an organization devoted to defending the Constitutional Religious Rights of all Americans, especially those serving in the military. 96% of his clients are Christians including conservative Evangelicals and Catholics. 85% of his paid and volunteer staff over over 400 people are Christians. He took this case because Christians in Monument complained about it, were stiff-armed by the city and asked him for help. Likewise, they also broke a DOD rule about using the official DOD and Military Service Seals on sectarian displays or from being used to make a profit. This fit the former. The is issue was not the Eagle Scout or his motivations and never has been. He should be allowed to honor his grandfather, but this was not the way to do it. The issue is that the city trampled the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment by allowing the placement of a highly sectarian monument on a government owned cemetery. There were many ways it could have been avoided. The monument could have simply been dedicated to all who served or died for our country. They chose, and I don’t know if it was the Scout or his advisors decided to place a phrase that quite flagrantly ignored, put down and disrespected everyone who has served this country in uniform who is not a Christian. Since the city allowed it and disregarded the complaints of Christian citizens in the town the action became a matter of it plowing under the Constitution for a political purpose using the young man as a pawn in their war against the Constitution. At no time did Mr. Weinstein or any of his associates attack or disparage the young man or his motivations. The complaint is against the city and the adults who should have known better who put the Scout in this place. I do not want to embarrass your lack of knowledge about the legal and Constitutional issues at stake in this lawsuit, that being said I will go over them. The First Amendment was crafted to ensure that religious minorities were not coerced by bigger churches and that the government did not establish any religion. In effect Monument did just this. The reason that the First Amendment has its religious provision, containing two clauses the Free Exercise Clause which provides people the right to worship whatever god they want or no god at all, and the Establishment Clause which says that the government cannot establish or give preferential treatment to any particular religion. You might ask why this occurred, but then you might not, so I will ask the question. “Why did the First Amendment have its religious liberty provisions? Well it goes like this. The leader of the Virginia Baptists was a very evangelical and learned Christian. He know what minority denominations endured in Europe and in the English Colonies wherever a State Church was established. When the United States gained independence the Anglican Church, which had been the State Church under British rule wanted to again be the State Church. In the process they terrorized the meeting of Baptists, Methodists, Quakers, and others who were not Anglican. They went to Baptist Church services, and by force broke them up, took pastors, deacons and members to the nearest stream, river or lake and “re-baptized” them until they nearly drowned. Leland complained to his friends Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Jefferson, a skeptic who published an edition of the Bible with all the miracles removed crafted the Virginia Declaration of Religious Liberty, and Madison crafted the first Amendment. Neither wanted the government of the United States to be under the thumb of any religious denomination. Those laws are the basis of religious freedom for all in the United States, and why Leland wrote: “The notion of a Christian commonwealth should be exploded forever. … Government should protect every man in thinking and speaking freely, and see that one does not abuse another. The liberty I contend for is more than toleration. The very idea of toleration is despicable; it supposes that some have a pre-eminence above the rest to grant indulgence, whereas all should be equally free, Jews, Turks, Pagans and Christians.” That is why Mr. Weinstein took this case, not to attack or punish the Scout. These kind of government action if left unchecked create legal precedent for more actions like them, until we lose our rights as Americans. You see, this isn’t just about Christianity in general. The writer of the WND article, Mr. Unruhe has a long history of attacking Christians who do not see things his way, as do many like him. Their goal is a theocracy, where the government does the Church’s dirty work. It happened in Christian Europe, and it is reality in many if not most Muslim countries. Theocracies are authoritarian by nature and despise the concept of Democracy, and our Constitution. I hope this is beneficial to your understanding of the importance of this case. It goes far beyond a young man’s desire to honor his grandfather’s service in WW2. Sincerely,
Response from MRFF Supporter
On Jun 7, 2021, at 5:47 AM, (name withheld) wrote:
Dear (name withheld),
I appreciate the respectful tone you have used in coming forward with your observations about the memorial that the boy scout placed in Monument’s cemetery. However, there are two very significant elements of this well-meant act that the MRFF sought to address and remedy. The first was that the memorial stone was a sectarian expression placed on a piece of government property. This violates the First Amendment of the Constitution in that it mixed Church and State using governmental resources. That the city of Monument later declared that parcel of land on which the memorial sits private was a slick attempt to avoid the problem. They could have moved the memorial to private property, but instead they chose to pull this stunt. The second problem is that the scout used the symbols of the four respective branches of service, something that the Department of Defense strictly prohibits. The adults involved in this controversy have attempted to make a victim of the boy scout whose Eagle project this memorial was meant to be. But, instead of doing their due diligence and advising him properly, they set him up and have used him as a shield against both the Constitution and the DOD. This entire fight could well and should well have been avoided. But people who were simply in the wrong dug in and made this whole scenario the ugly and vicious struggle that it became. The MRFF has stood by its charter in attempting to rectify what flies in the face of our national covenant and the regulations of the Department of Defense. I urge you to look a bit deeper than you have into the stances of both parties. I think you will discover just how egregious the behavior of the officials of the city of Monument has been. They helped in creating this affair and have done everything they could to keep the flames of antagonism alighted.
From: (name withheld)
To: John Compere
Sent: Monday, June 7, 2021, 8:34:22 AM CDT
Subject: Re: Cemetery memorial
Thank you for the response Mr. Compere and thank you as well for your service. I now see how this situation is problematic and hopefully all parties involved can put emotion to the side and work this out and perhaps find a more suitable place to display this memorial. That being said, thank you for your time and I wish you well.
Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member Mike Farrell
On Jun 7, 2021, at 6:34 PM, Mike wrote:
Hi Mr. (name withheld), Apparently you’ve come to a somewhat limited understanding of the situation in Monument, CO. That being the case, we understand your concern. Let me try to clarify things a bit. First of all, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation is dedicated to protecting the rights of the women and men in the military to think and believe as they choose by supporting and honoring military regulations and the separation of church and state. Please feel free to look us up and check out our website and mission statement.
No one here opposes the young man’s desire to create a monument dedicated to his relative, or to veterans in general for that matter. In this case he chose the latter. However, its general statement, the insignias adorning it and the overt religiosity involved in it were felt by some in the community to be inappropriate in a government-owned and operated facility. However, met with no understanding of their concern and unsure where to turn for help, these neighborhood residents eventually contacted the MRFF. On their behalf, our first communication with those in authority properly stated the case, citing the concerns of the local residents, who by the way felt no antagonism toward the young man who created the object in question, and explained the violations – both of the separation of church and state and of the military rules regarding use and/or representation of military insignia. Our hope, of course, was that this could be a teachable moment for the young man, helping him to understand the issues at hand and either make the necessary changes or move the monument to a more appropriate place off-site. Apparently neither his Scout superiors nor the adults around him recognized the opportunity as such because, rather than choosing to heighten the young man’s understanding of our country and its laws, they decided to treat this objection as an attack on Christianity. Thus they attacked the MRFF and by extension their neighbors, and brought in help from groups primed to fight against what was, in their mistaken view, part of a War on Christianity. The back and forth unfortunately became stronger in tone and positions hardened, ultimately involving a preposterous “purchase” of land inside a government-owned and operated facility upon which to seat the monument. Unresolved, the unfortunate mountain created out of this molehill has left ill feelings between neighbors within the community, caused widespread, badly distorted reportage resulting in a lot of breast-beating, all of it unnecessary, and all prompted by a totally unnecessary apparent “calling” to defend the Lord, even in instances where no one is attacking. I hope this helps clarify things a bit for you.