From a stalwart MRFF Supporter:pick your battles, lay off wreaths, they aren’t the problem

Published On: December 23, 2021|Categories: MRFF's Inbox|5 Comments|

From: (name withheld)
Date: December 23, 2021 at 1:40:26 PM MST
Subject: From a stalwart MRFF supporter: pick your battles, lay off wreaths, they aren’t the problem


Bottom line up front: I’m a big supporter of separation of church and state, and keeping evangelism and religious anything out of our government and militaries whenever possible. I don’t think that Wreaths Across America or similar activities are a threat to that, and they may in fact be the outlet for positive holiday feelings that we all need. I think it’s a sufficiently secular expression that I want to support, if not just allow, because it exists in contrast to plenty of other problematic activities that are competing for our time, money and attention. 

I’m an Iraq War Army Veteran, Field Artillery Officer, agnostic atheist and AHA (Humanist) lay leader who would happily be a Chaplain in uniform if the Senate would allow it. I led Humanist services at the Navy’s Recruit Training Command for years until I was uninvited (for swearing, they said, which is both disingenuous and hilarious in a way) and I sincerely want to see the armed services as secular and free from religious evangelism as possible.

This war on wreaths is going to lose us ground gained and then some. I think it is without significant merit as well, but just on a practical basis, it’s going to subject us all, and I mean anyone who aligns themselves with the goals of MRFF, to legitimate ridicule & mockery and it will consign the real issues to the trash-heap along the way. It’s a losing battle. 

Wreaths are one of the few symbols that allow you to identify yourself as a (holiday, solstice, winter or whatever) Christmas-fun-having non-jerk, without displaying any sort of religious symbolism.
I know that it’s true that some people are truly upset by this and feel that abstaining from wreaths and conventional signs and symbols associated with Christmas is necessary for them to separate themselves from Christianity. I am not out to hurt anyone, I do want to find a way through this that does the least harm.

Wreaths Across America doesn’t mention Christmas in their pitch, just that it’s happening in December and recognizing veterans, by their own telling of their story. There are things I want to investigate about how their money flows, but on the surface I don’t see something to fight over. 

Wreaths have been part of my admittedly WASPy upbringing since childhood, but I also saw Santa themes among Muslims in Iraq. We ought to be leaning into reaffirming the secular nature of certain symbols of the holidays, with the aim of establishing inclusivity and making sure that no faiths are oppressed or marginalized unfairly. 

Ancient history doesn’t always hold when it comes to contemporary semiotics (signs and signifiers) it is worth knowing: If Estruscan or Germanic wreaths weren’t Christian then they aren’t as concerning as a crucifix or other clearly Christian symbol.

I think we should be looking for ways to embrace the holiday season that are seen as substantially secular and by being on board with them, we further establish them as inclusive, not divisive, practices. If you are still pissing off the Puritans, you are probably doing something right. 

(name withheld)

Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member James Currie

I have been asked by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) to respond to your recent email. First of all, please accept thanks on the part of the MRFF for your service to our great country. As you may know, fewer than one percent of Americans serve in one of the military branches these days.

We appreciate your sentiments and can understand why you might feel the way you do about wreaths. It’s all in the context. I have myself marched across the plaza at Arlington National Cemetery and presented a wreath to the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It was a non-sectarian, non-religious wreath composed of blue and gold flowers, representing the U.S. Public Health Service, and it was done on Veterans Day. There were no religious overtones to the wreath or the presentation of it at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

That’s not the situation with the wreaths that Wreaths Across America (WAA) is selling and then placing on the graves of veterans who are buried in U.S. Government cemeteries.  These are Christmas wreaths, and if you were to research it, you would find that the evergreen wreath of this sort has been a symbol of the Advent season for over 200 years, recognized worldwide as Christian. Advent, as you probably know, is that time of the year when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, and the evergreen wreath, at this time of year, is inextricably linked to Christianity.

As you suggest, there are many people who do not know this history and understand the religious significance of the wreath. WAA certainly understands. Their official posture is that because of the religious significance of the wreath as a symbol of Christianity, they will not place these wreaths on the graves of veterans whose tombstones bear symbols that indicate their adherence to a non-Christian faith, whether that faith is Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or whatever.  The sad fact is that the individuals who place the wreaths on behalf of WAA are not always so careful, as the MRFF has photographic proof of these Christian symbols being placed on graves that are clearly marked with non-Christian religious emblems. You may know that the VA allows any one of seventy-four different symbols on a tombstone, including the symbol for Atheist.

The MRFF believes that it is a violation of the First Amendment and a breach in the “wall of separation between Church and State” for the U.S. Government to allow any group to go into government-run cemeteries and place religious symbols on veterans’ graves. You can imagine, I’m sure, the outcry that would arise if a Muslim group or Jewish group or Hindu group were to go into a VA cemetery, or perhaps into Arlington National Cemetery, and start placing their own religious symbols on the graves there. I can assure you that the MRFF would object just as vociferously to such non-Christian religious displays as it does when Christian symbols are placed on veterans’ graves.

Yes, the MRFF has come under a certain amount of criticism for its position against these Christian symbols. We think that is largely because most folks do not understand the symbolism behind the wreath. But the MRFF does not hesitate to do whatever it can to shore up and defend that “wall of separation between Church and State” about which President Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1802. The First Amendment created that wall, and the MRFF’s mission is to do whatever is necessary to defend and protect it. As you can imagine—maybe you can’t imagine—the hate mail that comes into the MRFF is extensive. Its founder, Mikey Weinstein, is routinely threatened with death, and he often has to travel with bodyguards, solely because supposedly-religious Americans want to see him dead because of what the MRFF does.

Those of us who support the MRFF appreciate your recognition of the organization’s efforts on behalf of the separation of church and state in our republic. It’s a tough fight which we do not expect to ever end.

Col. James T. Currie, USA (Ret.), Ph.D.
Board of Advisors, Military religious Freedom Foundation

Response from MRFF Founder and President Mikey Weinstein

From: Mikey Weinstein
Date: December 23, 2021 at 1:58:58 PM MST
To: (name withheld)
Subject:From a stalwart MRFF supporter: pick your battles, lay off wreaths, they aren’t the problem

Thank you for submitting your thoughts… They have been considered and 100% rejected… Have a nice holiday season and happy new year…

Response from MRFF Supporter Steve Dundas

On Dec 24, 2021, at 12:22 PM, Steve wrote:

Dear (name withheld)

My name is Steve Dundas. I am a retired career officer of 39 years, 4 months, and 6 days of military service, 17 1/2 in the Army and it’s National Guard and Reserve components, and a bit over 21 1/2 in the Navy. I read your email to Mr. Weinstein and his response with great interest, and before anything else I want to thank you for your service as an Artillery Officer in the U.S. Army, and your service in Iraq, as I am both an Army and combat veteran of Iraq.

I found your article, because while I, like Mr. Weinstein disagree with your counsel, I find your story of your military service, life and beliefs, you volunteering at NTC as a Humanist faith leader compelling. I am now retired from the Navy Chaplain Corps, but I believe that the military needs to include Humanist chaplains. The religious composition of our society is rapidly changing with 29% of the population reporting that they belong to no religious body, while all Christian denominations are reporting large numbers of lost members. Some of these may now be worshiping at independent Mega-Churches, but they that does not account for the shrinking Christian (in name) population, even if those people have abandoned the church.

Likewise, while I am a Christian, I am a profound believer in the Humanism espoused in our foundational documents as Americans, the secular foundations of our government, and the absolute separation of Church and State. I will come back to your arguments about Mr. Weinstein’s tactics and strategy after I tell you a bit about me. 

During my Navy service,  7 years were spent with the Fleet Marine Force, 2 years with Navy EOD Group 2, 2 years aboard USS HUE CITY, a guided missile cruiser, 8 years in Navy Medicine, and 3 1/2 years on the Faculty of the Joint Forces Staff College. In the Navy I served as a Chaplain, in the Army a Forward Observer before I was commissioned in 1983 as a Medical Service Corps Officer. I was a platoon leader, company executive officer and company commander in the 557th Medical Company (Ambulance) from 1984-1986 in Germany on the Fulda Gap, after having completed the Junior Officer Maintenance Course, the NBC Defense Officer Course, and the Air Force Air Load Planners Course. After that I was sent to the Army Personnel Officer’s Course and was the Adjutant of the Academy Brigade, Academy of Health Sciences, where I served until I left active duty, returned to the National Guard as an Armor Officer while attending Seminary. After graduation and ordination I became a Chaplain in the National Guard, and later made Major in the USAR.

While I was in the Guard and Reserve I worked as a chaplain in major medical center Trauma Departments, ER’s and Trauma, Medical, Burn and Neurosurgery ICUs, before I was called up to support Operation Joint Endeavor, the Bosnia mission in 1996. Unfortunately, I didn’t know that Contract employees working for a hospital have no reemployment rights, so I returned without a job, so the Army sent me to Fort Indiantown Gap, PA, to be the last Federal Chaplain as the base was under BRAC and being turned over to the Pennsylvania National Guard. When I returned to our home without a job in a place with a poor job market in October 1998 I returned to the drilling Reserve, but in December my then bishop informed me that the Navy had hit a major problem recruiting Chaplains and was willing to make a deal. So 7 weeks later I did my last drill as a Major with 38th Ordnance Group, and 2 days later took my oath as a no time in grade Navy Lieutenant, and two weeks later reported to the Navy Chaplain School.
Back in my Army days on the Fulda Gap I learned to live in a constant state of alert, knowing that if war came that we, and the 11th ACR would take 90% casualties in in a high intensity conflict where tactical nuclear weapons, chemical weapons of all kinds, and biological weapons would be used. Imagine decoding FLASH messages which showed where you lived in a nuclear blast radius or downwind of radiological, chemical, and biological agents.

I saw the results of religious driven civil wars in the Balkans. In 2002 I headed a boarding team in the Northern Arabian Gulf, during Operation Southern Watch, OEF, and the UN Iraq Oil embargo despite being unarmed and because we didn’t have enough have any SAPI plates for my floatation vest. I did that on 75 missions. Trust me there is nothing like going smuggling ships in high seas and small boats, climbing Jacob’s ladders and wondering if one of those smugglers was communicating with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Naval Forces which harassed and occasionally took our ships under fire. In 2007-2008 I deployed to Al Anbar Province in MNF-West as a the Chaplain for the Advisory teams under the Iraq Assistance Group. I came back after being in combat with small teams far away from the big battalions and close air support. Once again I was the one unarmed guy, but I made breakthroughs with Iraq military leaders who came to regard me as the “American Imam.”

After that I came back home, damaged with PTSD/PTSS, TBI, and Moral Injury. The last was compounded by being abandoned by both my former church and the senior leadership of the Navy Chaplain Corps. For two years I struggled with faith, at best I was an agnostic hoping God still existed. That changed about this time in 2009 when I was called to Naval Medical Portsmouth ER to provide the last rites to a retired a navy doctor, a true saint of a man. As I made the sign of the cross on his forehead as I prayed the final prayer of commendation he breathed his last and somehow faith returned, not the same as it was before. 

I spent much of my adult life in Churches that espoused the Christian Nationalism and theocratic ideas used by Wreathes Across America, though they are much more adept at making their theocratic ideas look like a well meaning deed that let’s people feel good by putting wreathes on the graves of dead military personnel and veterans. Unlike you I remember being having right wing politics drilled into my head in church services and especially clergy meetings, where our mandatory readings were not theological, but political tomes written by men like Bill Bennett, Thomas Sowell, Newt Gingrich, and Robert Bork, not to mention others. We were taught “Dominionist” or “Seven Mountains” theology which provides a very thin but volatile mixture of traditional Calvinist and Charismatic Signs and Wonders theology preached by the self-proclaimed “prophets” of the “New Apostolic Revival.” Many of these people were the clergy surrounding Donald Trump, and they include sedition minded pastors preparing their congregations for war, and some of the worst actors on the modern American political stage. They have no respect for the Constitution, especially the First, Thirteenth, Fourteenth, Fifteenth, or Nineteenth Amendments, and do not understand the great foresight of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and the great Virginia Baptist leader, John Leland who crafted the revolutionary Virginia Statute on Religious Liberty, and the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses of the Constitution. These people believe it is God’s will to take over the government of the country, the leadership of the military and police and build what many refer to as “The Government of God.” They do not believe that non-believers have any rights and the WAA project is a part of that, but more like an iron fist in a pretty velvet glove. 

I admit that the massed displays of wreathes on the graves is as beautiful as it is both unconstitutional and disrespectful to the fallen, and their survivors. They are not just a means of making people feel good and come together, as the WAA leadership would have you assume. The people who own the wreath manufacturing company are Evangelical Christians, and their “non-profit” spin off, Wreathes Across America is a way of bringing people who might not ever have anything to do with their cause into Allie’s, even if they don’t understand the intent. They make people feel good, by supposedly honoring our fallen comrades and deceased veterans. The millions of dollars spent on these wreathes could actually be used by organizations which provide tangible resources for veterans, active duty members, their families, and survivors, and some of these are faith based organizations. Instead they blanket the cemeteries with these wreathes which the under funded and under staffed cemeteries Wust dispose of, taking a great amount of time from their normal operations, and which cost taxpayers large amounts of money for no actual gain. The staff members must repair the grounds that are trampled and the occasional headstone that is damaged. 

It is actually a very insidious way of convincing Americans of their Christian Nationalist, Dominionist, and theocratic ideas. After all, what could be less offensive than to decorate the graves of every fallen military member or veteran with a wreath? Actually, a lot, and you clearly do not understand this.

The issues are foundational to our Constitution and the understanding of Religious liberty proposed by our founders, and even going back to the Puritans who held that such decorations were “Popish” and not permitted by their Christian faith. Neither are such decorations, as beautiful as they are and the warm feelings they bring to many people are not permitted by the many religions of those who have served ur country.

They are not permitted by the Jewish faith, the a Muslim faith, as well as many denominations of a Christian’s whose graves are marked with a cross. Mr. Weinstein and the MRFF have no problems whatsoever with the placement of wreathes on the graves of those whose religions and survivors object to them. Instead, the WAA campaign puts the onus on the survivors or descendants of the dead to object and tell the Federal and State government organizations in charge of these cemeteries to bar WAA instead of first getting their consent. It kind of stands American law on its head. In almost every case of civil, religious, or even property rights, those who want to do something that affects people of all faiths races, or creeds, by legal precedent must obtain permission from those affected in order to do so before commencing their project. But they do not want to spend the money to do the serious legwork to seek such permission. Instead they want people to seek exemptions from their campaign. In effect they want people to prove that their beliefs, property, or even their place of burial should not be marked by something that they opposed in life, and by assumption death.

Neither Mr. Weinstein or any of us have any objection to volunteers of WAA or any other organization, placing wreathes on the graves of the fallen who have given consent.
Then we have to address the means by which the military identifies the religion faith, or lack thereof of its personnel. Usually this happens during the recruiting process, where a recruiter, usually an NCO with no training on how to accurately document religious faith. Since many recruits don’t yet have a mature faith when they sign their recruiting contracts and personal information, many simply say what religion their parents were, or what kind of church they attended, whether they believed its doctrines or not. The induction process is swift and the questions unremitting. Most of these kids state the easiest answer that they can, even if it is not accurate, the induction process is not a good time to start a conversation on religious beliefs. So after a quick, usually ill thought out answer to the religious question the soldier, sailor, marine, or airman the man or woman signs his papers. His or her dog tags are stamped with that identification, in most cases for the duration of their service as very few make changes to religious data because it usually doesn’t mean that much to them, even if they later changed or rejected that faith. When they leave the military, whether killed in action, died of wounds, or dies later in life as a veteran or retiree, his or her headstone is marked with the sign of faith that was first placed on their enlistment papers many years before.

How do I know this? I served as a military personnel officer and a chaplain who was thoughtful enough to ask questions about the religious preferences of his soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen. As a chaplain I found that many personnel said that they had “no religious preference” so I would ask what that meant. Some would say that they had no religion and never had any intent of darkening the door of a place of worship. Others would confide that they were part of a minority religion such as Wicca but didn’t want to be publicly identified as such because they feared religious prejudice. Lastly, there were a Christians who had no denominational affiliation but just “wanted to go where the Gospel was preached,” but they didn’t understand that “no religious preference” was akin to saying that they were a non-believer. I could go on with many other examples, but I assume that you, being a man of reason can understand. So for many who have a cross on their grace it is meaningless because they neither lived by the tenets of the Christian faith, but simply put down something that seemed acceptable when they were recruited. That is why WAA needs to seek the permission of the descendants or survivors of the dead veteran before laying a wreath on any grace, and why DOD, VA, and State military cemeteries should not allow them to do this without such permission.

But let me say this. I am one of the most religiously inclusive of all people. I believe that the religious rights of people must be taken seriously, but as a human being whose religious views have changed over the years while remaining a Christian, and now semi-retired Priest, I understand that the religious beliefs of an 18 year old can change markedly as they mature. The truth is that the military and VA, on whose records we depend to place religious symbols on graves are probably incorrect at least half of the time. This makes it much more important for any group displaying a symbol with many uses, but which during the Christmas season is an explicitly Christian symbol, unless it is decorated with a Pentagram or Rune of a Pagan religion, is expressly a Christian symbol, Biblical or not, during the Christmas season. As I said before, wreathes are more often than not, intentionally or by mistake placed on every grave in these government owned, managed, and taxpayer supported cemeteries. In fact just a few days ago the coordinator of the WAA wreath laying at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery tell a local news reporter that they intended on laying a wreath on every grave. He never mentioned leaving out the graves of non-Christians or checking with survivors or descendants of those honored dead.

Now to the bigger picture. There is a strong and well organized effort of what is now a political powerful, yet exclusivist Conservative/ Fundamentalist Christian nationalism that would trample the religious rights of anyone not like them, including men like you who want to become a Humanist Chaplain, even though we have a sizable number of personnel who observe the “faith” of Humanism, though despite its lack of a God is a faith, a faith in the goodness of humanity, which in many cases empirically cannot be proven, but often disproved based on the actions of human beings, the one common factor in human history.

It is also used to try to deny the rights of Chaplains to free speech according to their faith in the pulpit. I had a retiree in my old Chapel try to have me tried by Court Martial because what I preached from the pulpit disagreed with his political partisanship, despite it being Biblical, and in keeping with the teachings of Christian tradition of 2000 years. The man lied about what I said and I was subjected to an investigation by my commanding officer who never even asked me what happened. Fortunately, I had sermon notes, and the investigating officer, after interviewing most of the congregation present that day and my staff determined that the accusations had no basis in fact and that my accuser was lying, and thus I was exonerated. During the process my commanding officer dismissed the advice of the Regional Chaplain that my sermon was protected speech still launched an investigation which could have destroyed my life and career had the case gone to court martial, even if I was acquitted. The sad thing is that with the exception of my regional chaplain, no senior Navy Chaplain including the Chief of Chaplains, Deputy Chief of Chaplains, or the Chaplain of Naval Installations Command stepped up to defend me.
You have to understand that there is a very open cabal of very politically powerful Right Wing a Christian leaders attempting to attempting to impose their theocracy and autocracy on the rest of us, despite them being a religious minority. WAA May seem innocuous to you, but it is part of a bigger agenda. That agenda to to impose their beliefs on others, and take power as I have described above.

You might choose to disagree with Mr. Weinstein, and the MRFF position on this, but this is a highly visible battle in a culture war launched by the religious and political right, where many of Mr. Weinstein’s wins attract little attention. Over 95% of his nearly 80,000 clients are Christians, as are about 85% of his paid and volunteer staff. But, because he is willing to take a stand based on the Constitution and law to protect the rights of military personnel, veterans, and their families or survivors from the imposition of right Wing Christian beliefs by commanding officers, members of the chain or command, or civilian administrators of federal and state veterans agencies. Mr Weinstein only goes where he is invited, he does not seek battles for the sake of publicity, or notoriety.

One other thing, you say you were removed from your volunteer position at NTC because of alleged foul language, but you know that wasn’t the reason. It was a trumped up excuse to get rid of the Secular Humanist because he was having a positive effect, something that religious and fundamentalist Christians in the military command and much of the chaplain corps cannot abide. That was a blow against the religious freedom of the Secular Humanists you provided service.

I have written this ponderous missive to you, and in doing so hopefully have expanded your knowledge base against what we are fighting. These people Christian supremacists are for the most part die-hard Trumpers, they are opponents of democracy. They are taking over school boards and banning books, limiting the rights of LGBTQ+ people, destroying the access of women to birth control, pre-national care, and yes abortion too. Many are antivaxxers and maskers who show a callous disregard of the lives and health of their fellow citizens. Others are even more extreme and part of Right Wing, White Supremacist, and Neo-Nazi movements. Wreathes Across America May seem innocuous and providing well needed holiday cheer, but that is a facade. If they placed these wreathes at Memorial Day or Veterans Day and adorned them in Red White and Blue, it wouldn’t be an issue because it could not be construed as anything close to being Christian. However, by placing them at Christmas they make them a Christian symbol that they can use to unite around, even if that means being expressly anti-Semitic in placing them on Jewish graves, or Muslim graves, which is forbidden by those religions, even though over the past few years Iraq is starting to open up to Christmas, and maybe by being more tolerant bring back Iraqi Christians who fled the country after our invasion, their civil war, and the campaign against ISIS, but even there, wreathes are not placed on graves. I, like you have seen the human cost of that war up close and personal. I have also seen the evils of violence in this country as a trauma department chaplain, all the dead and mangled from gun violence. I have stood in too much blood, seen too many opened chests, blown out brains, and grieved alongside too many families not to understand how violent our society is. 

So all that done, I my qualification besides being a retired Army and Navy Chaplain,  Army personnel officer, and combat veteran. I am a theologian, a fully trained hospital chaplain and medical ethicist, a trained historian with a second Masters degree in Military History, a graduate of the Marine Corps Command and Staff College (JPME I) the Joint Combined Warfighting School (JPME II), the Homeland Security Planners Course offered by the Joint Forces Staff College where I was Chaplain and Faculty from 2013 to 2017 where I taught the Military Ethics elective, and led the Gettysburg Staff Ride and earned my academic title of Assistant Professor.

I am a subject matter expert in COIN and Revolutionary Warfare and was one of the few people in 2003 to realize that we had lost Afghanistan. Likewise, I am a student of religious and civil liberty in this country and others and fully understand the Constitution, its predecessors and subsequent Court Decisions, including those of the present Supreme Court that are expanding the religious rights of Christians, including for profit business entities to receive government money and to allow them to discriminate against employees who do mot share their beliefs. My first book “Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: Religion and the Politics of Race in the Civil War Era and Beyond, will be published by Potomac Books, an imprint of the University of Nebraska Press in the spring or summer of 2022.

I am also a Holocaust scholar and fight Holocaust denial alongside my Jewish Rabbi friends. I was fortunate that my primary professor as an undergraduate history major, Dr. Helmut Haeussler, was a interrogator and translator at the International Military Tribunal of the Major Nazi War criminals who remained for the rest of the trials in the American Zone. He allowed me about 15 semester hours of guided independent study on Weimar, the Nazi era, and the Holocaust in addition to other courses on German History, the History of Nazi Germany, World War II and Holocaust history. I am fluent in German and have visited Dachau more times than I can count, the Bergen-Belsen, Flossenbürg, and Buchenwald Concentration camps, the T4 Euthanasia Center at Hardheim in Hessen, as well as the Nuremberg Palace of Justice where the Nazi justice system worked its evil, and where the Nazis were brought to Justice, and a host of other places where I want to return to in order to study their collections. Why do I do this? Because I am a historian and I see too many parallels in our present time not to ignore what happened before.

So there it is. Take it or leave it. I presume that you are an honest man who did not fully understand why MRFF is representing hundreds of survivors of the men and women these wreathes are being placed, who have gone to MRFF after being stiff-armed by military and civilian officials running these cemeteries. There is no way we can stand down. Mr. Weinstein lives under constant verifiable death threats, many from supposed Christians, QANON cultists, as well as White Supremacists and Neo-Nazis.

This is no joke. I occasionally get them too. There is no appeasing these people, they do not want peace, or for any people like us to have the rights they claim for themselves.

With all sincerity, and hopes that you enjoy the holidays in peace,

Fr. Steve Dundas, Chaplain Corps, U.S. Navy Retired

Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member Mike Farrell

On Dec 29, 2021, at 11:52 AM, Mike wrote:

Hi (name withheld),

We get your point and appreciate your thoughts, but “sufficiently secular” is a dangerous concession when dealing with Christian Dominionists who pounce on any perceived opportunity to create the impression that ours is a Christian Nation.

Christmas wreaths at Christmas are, like it or not, a Christian symbol. We’ve gone out of our way to make clear that we have no problem with wreaths being laid at grave sites of anyone, Christian or not, who welcomes them, but in a national cemetery it is the responsibility of those distributing the wreaths to determine where one is wanted and where not. To presume they are acceptable to all is not only disrespectful and wrong, it also puts the U.S. Government in the position of appearing to endorse an act that promotes one particular faith.

Yes, our public opposition can offend some, but just as is the case with dog-tag replicas that carry the official emblem of the U.S. Government, we believe it an important defense of the separation of church and state to hold the line against these incursions, no matter how subtle. It is the small, “insignificant” steps by which the Dominionists and their ilk foster and promote their ideology.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Mike Farrell
(MRFF Board of Advisors)

Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member Mike Farrell

I understand your concern and agree about WAA. Corruption, or profiteering off deceased veterans, is not a pretty thing and should be condemned.
Mike Farrell (MRFF Board of Advisors)

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  1. Wise One December 23, 2021 at 9:09 pm

    You continue to reference that “wall of separation” in the first amendment. It is not there. You reference the fact that Thomas Jefferson wrote the famous or infamous seven words in 1802. You neglected to point out his statement, in or out of context, is NOT contained anywhere in the First Amendment. You are being subtly deceptive to fit your narrative and your agenda. Many people have bought into this because they haven’t researched for themselves. Thomas Jefferson wrote those words in a letter on January 1, 1802 to the Danbury Baptist Association. Those words are not found anywhere in the Constitution, yet you continue to push this lie….stop it.

  2. Wise One December 23, 2021 at 9:17 pm

    The day after the First Amendment’s passage, Congress proclaimed a national day of prayer and Thanksgiving. The inaugural Congress was largely comprised by those who drafted the Constitution. It reflects incredible arrogance to reconfigure the Bill of Rights into prohibiting religious displays on public grounds…..Forbes

  3. Dave Kisor December 24, 2021 at 4:48 pm

    About half way through Naval Recruit Training at NS Orlando, FL, a flu landed a number of us in the hospital. I was sitting on the edge of the bed when a CDR (Lt Col to many of you), Chaplain walked into the room. He hooked a finger on my dogtag chain, saw Agnostic and said, “we have to do something about this!” The only reason I had Agnostic was in 1971 the DoD didn’t recognize Atheist.

  4. ironmoped December 28, 2021 at 8:49 pm

    They (the Chaplain Corps, et al.) know that recruits are “fresh meat” for their evangelical fundamentalist recruitment and, or course, that CDR Chaplain is making a very good living at it! Christians, in particular, are “running scared” because they know it’s only a matter of time before their God goes the way of all other Gods humans have “worshipped” before the Christian God came along. They know that churches are closing, attendance is down, and interest in their collective money-making, power-grabbing bullshit is on the wane.

    You don’t have to give much thought to the very premise of their guidebook to know its pure, very poorly written, fantasy fiction……..God, the all knowing, all powerful, creator of the universe, after getting pissed off and drowning everybody, not to mention killing in excess of 25 million by various means, goes to rehab and decides he’s going to redeem his own experiment gone wrong by knocking up the virgin bride of a carpenter (against his own rules) to give us, his own creation, a means of vicarious redemption by way of a Jewish savior that gets us tickets into his Kingdom where we get to worship him for eternity! Kind of a celestial North Korea!

    The Christians sending their hate mail to the MRFF, do so because they know the only way to save their religion is, out of desperation, to do everything they can in their recruitment efforts to find new recruits that will believe their bullshit. And the military, a captive audience, is one of their prime targets! They push their bullshit through military Commanders and others in position of authority and most military members have to bite their tongues and take it – except those that contact the MRFF!!!!!!

    The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is one of the most honorable, patriotic organizations in the country fighting for the rights of military members NOT to have to pay homage to a religious authority in order to serve their country!

    Military members are not being denied their rights!

  5. MikeyTheCryBaby. January 5, 2022 at 3:03 pm

    “Thank you for submitting your thoughts… They have been considered and 100% rejected… Have a nice holiday season and happy new year…”

    Use another ellipsis fucking moron. I don’t know how your colleagues can stand you Mikey-WHINE-stein. They wrote very articulated and thoughtful responses to the OP. You just made yourself look like a triggered baby moron…again. <— That's how to use an ellipsis BTW.

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