MRFF Intervention Leads to Removal of Mass Production Sectarian Religious Statue from Main Entrance of a Mission Command Complex at Ft. Dix (Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst)

Published On: August 30, 2021|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments|

MRFF President/Founder Mikey Weinstein was initially contacted via email on June 28, 2021 with a set of photographs taken at the primary entrance lobby of the Mission Command Complex of the 84th Training Command at Fort Dix in New Jersey.  These photos showed a collection of three small but very noticeable statues. On the left is a soldier posed with his weapon. On the right is a soldier carrying a fallen soldier.  The most prominent statue carefully placed in the middle was an in-your-face promotion of Christian supremacy depicting an obviously Christian cross between a pair of boots and a helmet.  

Mikey immediately contacted the U.S. Army Installation Management Command Atlantic Region (IMCOM ATLANTIC) informing them of this obvious and unconstitutional attempt at sectarian religious branding of this U.S. Military facility.  The initial response from IMCOM: Our Staff Judge Advocate has been briefed, and he will do his research and brief back to the Commander. Will work this out as quickly as possible. 

Mikey responded “that when the new SECDEF Lloyd Austin proudly and very publicly announced that he wanted to be the “lodestar” for racial and religious unity, diversity and inclusion at DoD, he most assuredly was NOT thinking to be in support of that blatantly sectarian Christian, unconstitutional religious display in the lobby of Building 5523 at JB M-D-L”.   

Col. Jon A. Brierton, Commander, US Army Support Activity-Fort Dix and Deputy Joint Base Commander-Army JB MDL responded to Mikey asking “Is it possible to get a copy of the complaints you have received?  I’m not looking for the names of the folks, just their words of concern.  To the best of my knowledge and the staffs, we haven’t received any complaints.”  Mikey immediately pointed out that “Our clients are quite understandably and reasonably not going to provide the latitude for us to send anything into you other than the pictures that they took … [Our Clients ] justly fear reprisal revenge retribution and retaliation for speaking up … On this matter we have 17 army soldiers of whom 11 are Christian”.  Mikey did share an extremely clear and cogent question with Col. Brierton that was raised by one MRFF client in this matter: 

If we were discussing racist iconography, would we wait for “complaints?”
I don’t see the distinction. 

MRFF’s Senior Research Director Chris Rodda succinctly described this group of statues in a DailyKos article on August 26, 2021: 

The sculpture grouping is clearly not some commissioned artwork that much work and expense went into. These are inexpensive mass produced statues that can be bought on Amazon or even cheaper from garden centers.  The only appropriate place on a military base for this garden gnome-like Christian sculpture grouping is the chapel grounds. Its placement in the main entrance of the Mission Command Complex is a blatantly impermissible promotion of religion. 

After a lengthy phone call between Mikey and Col. Brierton to discuss MRFF’s client’s concerns regarding religious neutrality required by the U.S. Constitution, case law, and military regulations; a deadline was agreed upon to respond with a resolution to this situation by August 25, 2021.  Mikey emailed Col. Brierton on August 25th when the agreed upon deadline for a resolution was missed without a word indicating MRFF’s intention to seek timely remediation of this matter via alternate avenues.   Col. Brierton eventually called Mikey on the morning of August 30, 2021 regarding his decision to timely take down the sectarian Christian display in Building 5523 at JB M-D-L in order to “honor them all” and not merely honor Christian armed forces members as was agreed upon.  In order to verify his commitment to quickly carry out his decision, Col. Brierton went so far as to text a photo of the current statue display at the main entrance to Bldg. 5523 while he spoke with Mikey.  This photo shows the original ‘left-hand & right-hand’ statues while the middle statue with the sectarian religious branding had been removed.  This timely confirmation provided by Col. Brierton himself is greatly appreciated by MRFF and its 17 clients in this matter. 

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