From: (name withheld)
Subject: Insane Lawsuit – To Michael Weinstein, Founder & President, Military Religious Freedom Foundation
Date: June 5, 2021 at 7:33:39 PM MDT
To: <[email protected]>
Dear Mr. Weinstein,
You are calling a privately funded, privately owned veteran’s memorial a “wretched, unconstitutional dumpster fire.” You even targeted the erection of the memorial headstone with a lawsuit because it references Jesus Christ. First Liberty, who is representing the defendants, says that the fight developed in the town of Monument, Colorado, where 16-year-old Michael Carlson created the memorial in honor of his grandfather, who served in World War II, and his father, who served in in Vietnam. Michael spent two years planning, raising private funds, and creating the memorial site. The headstone sits in the town’s cemetery, where the family privately purchased the burial plot on which it sits. It carries the inscribed message: “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.”
Your organization, MRFF, has threatened to sue the town of Monument, Colorado. On what legal basis? Constitutional separation of state and church is solely intended to protect the church from the state; it was never intended by our Founding Fathers to protect the state from the church. Also, you are improperly infringing on Michael Carlson’s First Amendment freedom of speech. And since the Carlson family purchased the plot where the memorial sits, the town of Monument, Colorado does not own the memorial, and is not responsible for its maintenance. First Liberty is working to defend Michael Carlson and the town of Monument, Colorado. The memorial Michael Carlson created is privately designed, privately maintained, and located on a private burial plot in Monument Cemetery. No State or local funds will be used to support the memorial.
You seem to have an errant understanding of the US Constitution, treating what our Founders intended to mean “freedom of religion” as being “freedom from religion.” Nowhere does the US national Constitution guarantee “freedom from religion.” Also, since by Founder design, the US was established from the start as a Christian nation, the memorial in question would still be completely legal even if Monument, Colorado or the State of Colorado was paying part of the cost. Having any American governmental entity, federal, State, or local, financially support Christian messages in no way infringes on anybody’s First Amendment freedom of religion. This idiotic “lawsuit” you started is just the latest example of the endless tsunami of insane “woke” left-wing garbage.
Response from MRFF Board Member John Compere
On Jun 5, 2021, at 9:42 PM, John Compere wrote:
For your information, the Eagle Scout’s project was originally placed prominently on government owned & maintained property indicating government endorsement unlawfully violating the US Constitution, American law & Department of Defense regulatory directives. Many local citizens, including Christians, encountered it upon entering the cemetery, were offended by its blatant illegality & requested its removal.
The subsequent private sale of “burial rights” to the plot of land (not title to the land) by the government owned & operated cemetery in response to the complaints raises additional legal questions. The illicit use of official military department symbols violating copyright/trademark/licensing rights of the Department of Defense remains unresolved.
This problem was created by the adults involved who lacked the intelligence & integrity to advise a well-intended young man his project as presented could not be placed on government owned & maintained property implying government endorsement because it was unconstitutional, unlawful & 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. Your presumptuous protest is morally misdirected & should be redirected to those irresponsible adults.
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.”
It is fact, history & law we were not founded based on religion. The 1797 Treaty of Tripoli, an international legal document, confirmed to the world “…the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion…”. Negotiated during 1st President Washington’s administration, the treaty was unanimously Senate ratified & signed by 2nd President John Adams. The American Counsel to Algiers, Joel Barlow (Revolutionary War chaplain & Washington appointee) negotiated it, co-authored the Arabic version signed abroad during Washington’s presidency & authored the English version unanimously ratified & signed in the US during Adam’s presidency. We were the 1st nation in history to be founded by & for “We the People” (Constitution Preamble) with no acknowledgment of dependency on higher authority (emperor, monarch, dictator, deity, religion, scripture, etc).
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 AgencyDisabled American Veteran (Vietnam Era)Board Member, Military Religious Freedom Foundation (85% Christians)
On Sunday, June 6, 2021, 12:18:53 PM CDT, (name withheld) wrote:
Dear General Compere,
Thank you for returning my email about the religious memorial issue in Monument, Colorado. As I pointed out in my last email, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation was reported to be planning to sue, or has already sued, the creator of the memorial, Michael Carlson, and the town where the memorial will be or has already been set up, Monument, Colorado.
To address each of your specific points:
1. You are correct that the religious memorial was placed on (assumedly originally local) government owned and maintained property. But this implies no government endorsement of the content of the memorial’s inscription. The cemetery is acting in the same sense as a common carrier, like a phone network, and is not responsible for the content of its users. Also, as mentioned in my first email, there is no violation of the US Constitution here. The US Constitution makes no explicit (codified) proscription against government employing or hosting religious verbiage or symbols, and our most influential Founders were adamant that the US was based from its inception as a Christian nation. To wit, “It may not be easy, in every possible case, to trace the line of separation between the rights of religion and the Civil authority with such distinctness as to avoid collisions and doubts on unessential points.” (James Madison), “The question before the human race is, whether the God of Nature shall govern the world by his own laws, or whether priests and kings shall rule it by fictitious miracles?”(John Adams, speaking on the rule of God as the basis for proper US law, as opposed to the much more arbitrary rule of man), “The Christian religion, in its purity, is the basis, or rather the source of all genuine freedom in government…and I am persuaded that no civil government of a republican form can exist and be durable in which the principles of that religion have not a controlling influence.” (Noah Webster, creator of the Webster Dictionary). Hence it was Founder intent that government be permitted to propagate religious messages, and since virtually all of the Founders were Christian, I believe it can be reasonably inferred that they were referring to Christian religious messages. The only things government cannot Constitutionally do in regard to religion is enforce a national religion for the purposes of personal worship (this would violate the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment) or favor adherents of one religion over another (this would violate the Equal Protections Clause of the 14th Amendment).
2. DOD regulatory directives have no relevance to the issue at hand. The only living actors involved in implementing the religious memorial are the teenager Michael Carlson and the local cemetery in Monument, Colorado. It is only the two buried dead elders who are relatives of Michael Carlson who are (former) members of the military.
3. Local citizen opinion regarding “being offended” by the memorial is not dispositive to Constitutional or any other part of American law.
4. The private sale of burial rights to the plot of land raises no issues, as even if such rights remained in the hands of the local government owned cemetery, point (1) above demonstrates that the use of Christian wording on the memorial headstone would still be allowable according to the constructionist intent of the US Constitution. I concede you may have a point regarding private use of trademarked military symbols without DOD licensing permission (this is probably illegal).
5. The Constitution forbids any federal regulation from even existing, even if pursuant to areas of federally enumerated powers (Article I, Section 8). The Constitution forbids any government body, at any level, from promulgating rules that impose any mandate or restriction on the States or the People, except for government bodies that are actual legislatures. By definition, “regulations” are rules promulgated by Executive branch agencies, and such agencies only have the Constitutional power to enforce legislative law, but are forbidden from actually promulgating law.
6. The US Constitution absolutely does not “separate” government from religion or require government neutrality in regard to religion. It simply grants freedom of religion to all citizens, as well as the right to have no personal religion. As stated in my first email, the principle of “separation of church and state” is solely to protect the church from the state, and not the other way around.
7. The anti-Christian verbiage in the Treaty of Tripoli was a pure lie told by our Founders to several Muslim-run countries to get their Islamic citizens to stop robbing and sinking US-based merchant marine vessels travelling near the Barbary Coast.
8. You are correct that the US is the first nation to be founded “of, by, and for the People.” This simply means that government has no Constitutional right in America to infringe upon our natural, God-given rights, such as freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom from unwarranted search and seizure, freedom from unjustified loss of life or liberty, etc. The preceding has nothing to do with the relationship between government and religion, with the exception that government cannot impose any “state religion” on the People, as was the historical practice in England.
Response from MRFF Board Member John Compere
On Jun 6, 2021, at 11:43 AM, John Compere wrote:
“That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.” – Christopher Hitchens (American-English philosopher, author, critic & multiple literary award winner)
Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member Mike Farrell
Date: Mon, Jun 7, 2021 at 10:20 AM
Subject: Re: Insane Lawsuit – To Michael Weinstein, Founder & President, Military Religious Freedom Foundation
Dear (name withheld),
When you start by getting your information from First Liberty you’ve created a number of problems for yourself in properly understanding the dynamics of this matter. Your source of information is not a surprise, however, when you attach yourself to the mistaken belief that ours is a “Christian nation” and betray your true motives when signing off your message by railing about “insane ‘woke’ left-wing garbage.”
Should you care to know the facts, unlikely as that may be, before First Liberty inserted itself (or perhaps was invited in by another aggrieved, hyper-sensitive Christian) and turned this little disagreement into part of the totally fictitious War on Christianity, a number of the residents of the Monument community, themselves Christian, objected to the Christ-worshipping tone of the young man’s creation in a government-operated facility, since it inappropriately presumed all veterans would be honored thereby and at the same time implied government sanction of Jesus’ power. Met with no understanding of their concern and unsure where to turn for help, these neighborhood residents eventually contacted the MRFF.
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.
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 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 because, sadly, rather than choosing to heighten the young man’s understanding of our country and its laws, they chose to see this as an attack on Christianity. They attacked the MRFF and by extension their neighbors, and called in reinforcements from the likes of First Liberty.
The ensuing exchanges 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 hair afire and silly messages like your own, all of it unnecessary, and all prompted by a totally bogus “need” to defend the Lord.
Though I doubt it will, I hope this somewhat eases your aggravation.
Mike Farrell(MRFF Board of Advisors)
On Mon, Jun 7, 2021 at 12:25 PM (name withheld) wrote:
Dear Mr. Farrell,
Perhaps my invective about left-wing thinking was a little bit hyperbolic, but I did not base any of my opinions on those of First Liberty. I merely noted that First Liberty was or is defending the accused in the Monument, Colorado spiritual memorial dispute, and then offered my own opinions on the matter.
I must disagree with you regarding the founding of the US as a Christian nation. While our Founding Fathers were adamantly opposed to sectarian division and “priestly control” over the Union, they were of the belief that purely Biblical, non-sectarian Christianity was a bulwark of a just and secure society. Christianity was not intended to be the “ruler” of the nation, but a guide as to the morality of codified law, as well as a guide to the People so they would be wise in choosing their highest leaders at the polls.
As I stated in one of my earlier emails, the opinion of Monument, CO residents as respects the memorial headstone in question are completely nondispositive as to the constructionist interpretation of the Constitution, as well as all conventional statutory law that applies to the issue. Juridically, the courts are supposed to interpret law in light of actual originalist framer intent (as Congressionally revised if so), without any regard to “current trends” in what the public thinks is and isn’t moral.
Our Founders did in fact acknowledge Jesus’s power, though I admit in modern times this acknowledgment is far less prevalent. But since the constructionist meaning of the Constitution by law remains static until and unless amended via legal processes (supermajority approval for amendment from both the federal Congress and the State legislatures), our national legal acknowledgment of the power of Jesus remains in effect, without regard to our widespread post-modern public opinion that Jesus has no power over our lives.
I’m not sure I believe you when you say “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…” Your founder and president, Mr. Weinstein, has a long-standing history of conflating “freedom of religion” with “freedom from religion”, the latter being a concept with no basis at all in our Constitution. In fact, the very idea of “freedom from religion,” if implemented, would be a violation of the First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of association.
Our nation already separates church and state by Constitutional law. But as I stated in one of my earlier emails, this separation was intended by our Founders specifically to protect the church against government incursions. There was never a Constitutional intention by our Founding Fathers to “protect” the government from the church. The latter is a falsehood believed and propagated by adherents of the far-left.
I totally agree with you that if the memorial headstone includes trademarked military symbols, and no license to use these symbols was obtained from the DOD, this is a violation of federal law, and these symbols should be removed from the headstone unless permission to use them is obtained from the DOD.
Despite what you say, I believe the MRFF lawsuit against Michael Carlson and the town of Monument, Colorado is in fact an attack on Christianity. Mr. Weinstein has a long history of fighting the military on all manner of perceived “social issues,” such as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the Trump era ban on transgenders serving in the military, the provision of military chaplains for soldiers, prayer within the military, and the list goes on-and-on. I can only conclude that Mr. Weinstein, for whatever reason, has a deeply fixated ultra-progressive aversion to anything Christian, without regard to the actual merits of the issue at hand. In effect, he appears to be engaging in a broad-based ad hominem attack not only against Christians, but all things and people religious and/or conservative.
As regards the military, Mr. Weinstein is missing a very important point. Certain conventions, that may be appropriate or legal in non-military settings, can be tragic in the military sphere. In the military, the single most important factor in determining battle success is “unit cohesion” (very close coordination and trust between members of 8-9 person squads). Thus, the commonplace Constitutional/DOI values of “Equal Protection” and “All Men Are Created Equal,” applicable to the business and routine social worlds, have absolutely no place in the military. In battle, the only thing that matters is winning, because that is what (ultimately) minimizes deaths within your troop units. So, the military must have a focus against diversity, and instead foster a culture of uniformity, comradeship among similarly minded highly patriotic soldiers, and very high ethics based on long-established Biblical principles. This is the only way to maximize unit cohesion and minimize casualties on our own side.
I’m sorry you find my opinions “silly.” My sole goal was to point out the hypocrisy of the uber-left, who decry our nation’s supposed absence of “tolerance” and “diversity,” while at the same time are trying to “cancel” right-wing thinking, speech, and actions because it causes them self-imposed bouts of “triggers” and feelings of “microaggressions.” Not only does this process lead to the loss of natural God-given freedoms for conservatives, but it infantilizes those on the left who are implementing this hypocrisy.
From your loyal “badly misguided and obviously poorly educated fool,”
Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member Mike Farrell
On Jun 12, 2021, at 3:59 PM, Mike wrote:
Your invective was more than a “little bit hyperbolic”; it was flat wrong and is not appreciated.
I have neither the time nor the interest to debate you on this Christian Nation business. The fact is the separation of church and state is well established in law, which you acknowledge, yet you and your ‘strict constructionist’ allies will attempt to whittle away at it unsuccessfully, in my opinion, until the rapture takes you.
It’s purpose was to “protect the church from government incursions”, you say. How about to protect the people from having a government-endorsed belief system imposed upon them?
Your assertion that Mikey Weinstein “has a long-standing history of conflating ‘freedom of religion’ with ‘freedom from religion'” is only a regurgitation of countless baseless assaults on him from the likes of “First Liberty” and other Dominionist-related sects and organizations and is as false as is their pretense of fealty to Christ’s teachings.
The list of the issues on which you believe Mikey has been “fighting the military” will, if analyzed fairly, demonstrate not that he is anti-Chrtistian but rather that he is determined to see that attempts, be they thoughtless or deliberate, to breach the separation of church and state are recognized and removed. The fact that the MRFF ends up so often facing off on issues having to do with Christian incursions into military life writ large is a result of two forces: first, the fact that the varying forms of Christianity constitute the predominant religious belief in our country often lead to unthinking assumptions which are harmful and need correction; second, there is an active and determined, deeply zealous, fundamentalist Christian movement known as Dominionism (and its derivatives) that is convinced, as you appear to be, that ours is and/or should be an avowedly Christian Nation.
it appears that the latter group believes theirs is the only one, true faith and it is their function in life to so convince the world – starting with those of us here in America.
Though you may already be aware of it, I think it’s worth repeating that over 90% of those associated with the work of the MRFF are themselves Christians. We include veterans and active service-people, enlisted and officers, chaplains, priests, rabbis, atheists, imams, free thinkers, Native American leaders, probably some witches and who knows what-all. We are not anti-Christian.
(MRFF Board of Advisors)