Really?

Published On: January 2, 2022|Categories: MRFF's Inbox|6 Comments|

From: (name withheld)
Subject: Really?
Date: January 1, 2022 at 6:40:25 PM MST
To: [email protected]

For the first time in my life, I am ashamed to have Jewish ties.  What your organization has done is nothing short of drawing lines in the sand, making distinction of the differences in how someone worships, and who.   Wreaths on tombstones, really?  Your credentials notwithstanding, that argument is akin to some of the cheapest and lowest forms of racial or religious supremacy tactics used by lower educated persons. 

(name withheld)


Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member James Currie

Dear :(name withheld):

I have been asked by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) to respond to your recent email. I cannot address any purported shame you might feel about being Jewish, but MRFF’s opposition to the placing of Christian decorations on veterans’ graves in U.S. Government cemeteries has nothing to do with the particular religious beliefs or affiliations of anyone associated with MRFF and everything to do with the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

In case you do not remember the exact words of the first sentence of the First Amendment, here is what it says:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Now, what exactly do these words mean? I could explain them, but I think it best to allow a much more authoritative voice to speak to the issue. That person would be Thomas Jefferson, who knew the man who drafted the First Amendment (George Mason) and the man who guided it through the First federal Congress (James Madison). Here is what President Jefferson said about that amendment in a letter to the Baptist congregation of Danbury, Conn., on January 1, 1802, exactly 220 years ago today:

“I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people [that is, the First Amendment] which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”

Please consider President Jefferson’s deliberate choice of words, Ms. Boyer. He said that the First Amendment erected a “wall of separation between Church & State.” That wall of separation is at the heart of every activity of the MRFF. MRFF doesn’t take a Jewish position on the issue or a Muslim position or a Christian position. It takes the same position that was explained by President Thomas Jefferson: there is a wall of separation between church and state, and no matter how many people today wish it were not there, that wall is embodied in the very document that guides our government.

So, what exactly is wrong with placing wreaths on veterans’ graves, such that it breaches that wall? The answer is simple: for at least the past 200 years the Christmas wreath has been a worldwide symbol of the Advent season, which Christians celebrate as the time of year when the object of their devotion—their Lord, Jesus Christ—was born in the manger in Bethlehem. This wreath is not a non-sectarian symbol like the American flag, which is often used to decorate the graves in U.S. Government-run cemeteries. This Christmas wreath is not like the wreath that I was proud to help carry across the plaza at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier a few years ago on Memorial Day and present to the Tomb guards. That wreath was accompanied by members of the U.S. Public Health Service, and it was composed of blue and gold flowers, blue and gold being the USPHS colors. No, that wreath and the others that were presented that day representing the other seven uniformed services had no religious significance whatsoever, and that’s what makes the Christmas wreaths different.

The organization that generates this wreath-laying is a business, and it admits that these wreaths celebrate Christmas. They even go so far as to direct their volunteer wreath-layers not to place the wreaths on graves that are identified as belonging to non-Christian veterans. We have photographic proof, however, that the wreath-layers are not always careful and often do place these Christian wreaths on Jewish and Muslim and atheist graves. But that is not the real problem. The real problem is that the U.S. Government has no business allowing any group to go into a Government-run cemetery and place religious symbols on any graves. I ask you, Ms. Boyer, just how you would feel if a Muslim group or a Hindu group or an atheist group were to go amongst the headstones and willy-nilly place their symbols on veterans’ graves? Would you feel that MRFF’s objection to such actions was “cheap” or “low”? Somehow, I doubt that you would. So, I ask and invite you to reconsider what you have sent to MRFF and to be thankful that there is at least one national organization that is dedicated to upholding the “wall of separation between Church & State” of which President Thomas Jefferson wrote.

MRFF is a non-sectarian, non-profit organization, and you should praise its very existence .Col. James T. Currie, USA (Ret.), Ph.D.Board of Advisors, Military religious Freedom Foundation Ordained Elder, Presbyterian Church (USA)


Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member Mike Farrell

(name withheld),
Forgive me, but what utter nonsense. The only “line in the sand” anyone here daresabout is the line separating the church and the state and the desire of many religious zealots to erase it. If you’re seriously concerned about “religious supremacy tactics” I’d
urge you to check out the Christian dominionist movement and the ways in which they try to insist their own supremacy.
The MRFF is not concerned about wreaths being placed on the graves of veterans whose families welcome them. But we object strenuously to the arrogance of those who determine for themselves that the beliefs of others do not matter and deserve no consideration.

Your assumption that Jewishness is at issue here is your problem, not ours. Muslims, atheists, Jews and veterans of other faiths or no belief system at all deserve to be honored and recognized. For those who welcome the wreaths, certainly intended as a Christian symbol at Christmas – ask those who make, profit by and place them – we have no problem. But for those, apparently like you, who think it’s just fine to carpet a government cemetery with Christmas adornments no matter how the families of the veterans there may feel about it, we say stop. And think. And give enough of a damn to ask permission before you assume your adornment is welcome.
So yes, maam, really! And we feel the same way about the DoD emblem on dog-tag copies that sport religious quotes, weapons of war with Christian sayings etched into the barrels and religious preferences of any stripe being foist on the women and men in the military by their superiors. If for some reason that makes you queasy about your “Jewish ties” I can only suggest you have a serious problem with understanding the U.S. Constitution.
Mike Farrell (MRFF Board of Advisors)


Response from MRFF Board Member John Compere

On Jan 2, 2022, at 8:28 AM, John Compere wrote:


For your information, the religious wreaths are advertised as “Christmas” wreaths & sold as “Christmas” wreaths to be placed on or before “Christmas” (not more appropriately on Veterans Day). “Christmas” is Latin for “Christ’s mass” which is a Christian religious ceremonial. To suggest the “Christmas” wreaths do not have a religious connotation is naive & disingenuous.
Please be advised there are families of deceased military veterans who do not want a religious group to which they do not belong or support profiting, promoting its religion & marketing its religious product by presumptuously putting it on the grave of their deceased loved one without permission. These families consider this an uninvited & unwanted intrusion on the personal burial site of their family member.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (composed of over 80% Christians) represents, when requested, the religious freedom rights of those military families to object & prevent what they believe are thoughtless trespasses on the graves of their deceased military veterans. We do so because we respect the rights of these families & those responsible for the religious wreaths do not (more wreaths laid = more profits made). Religious freedom is a secular shield of protection & never a sectarian sword of privilege. 

Philosopher John Stuart Mill wisely wrote that those who know only their side of the case know little of that. To become better informed on this matter, please see militaryreligiousfreedom.org.
Brigadier General John Compere, US Army (Retired)Disabled American Veteran (Vietnam Era) Board Member, Military Religious Freedom Foundation


Response from MRFF Supporter Steve Dundas

Dear (name withheld),
I wonder what kind of “Jewish ties” that you have that Mr. Weinstein’s defense of religious rights would cause you to be ashamed. It is hard to tell if you are Jewish or have relatives or ancestors that are or were, but there is something seriously wrong with you if you are ashamed of your “Jewish ties” regarding anything Mr. Weinstein and the MRFF have done.
Your logic is saying that Mr. Weinstein and the MRFF are “drawing lines in the sand, making distinction in how someone worships and who” is completely out of kilter. Nothing could be further from the truth and had you actually bothered to look at the evidence you would not have gone out and embarrassed yourself so badly. The wreathes that Mr.Weinstein brought attention to were indeed Christian, and they were placed indiscriminately on the graves of hundreds of thousands of graves, including thousands which were marked by the symbols of religions that prohibit such displays. That Ms. Boyer in not an act of worship, and if you think it is you know nothing of the Christian or Jewish worship of God.
Your accusation that Mr. Weinstein and the MRFF are engaged in “the cheapest and lowest forms of racial or religious supremacy tactics used by the lower educated persons” is both untrue, insulting, and says more about you than it does anyone else.
Hopefully my scathing but measured response to your email will give you cause to stop and think and to do your research before you embarrass yourself again, because right now it appears that you don’t know the difference between shit and Shinola.
Sincerely, but not respectfully,
Fr. Steve Dundas, Commander, Chaplain Corps, U.S. Navy (Retired)  


Response from MRFF Supporter Rabbi Joel Schwartzman

On Jan 4, 2022, at 4:14 PM, Rabbi Joel Schwartzman wrote:


Dear (name withheld): 

I have to admit that I am unclear about what you are saying in your email in several of your comments.  

  1. You are ashamed of having Jewish ties?  Does this mean that you are Jewish or are somehow related to Jews?  Or does it mean that you have Jewish friends?  
  1. The MRFF does not discriminate on the basis of religion.  In fact, it does the opposite.  Whether a person who appeals to the MRFF is Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Wiccan, what have you, if they are being proselytized, harassed, demeaned or otherwise discriminated against because of their faith or no faith, the MRFF comes to their defense.  It does so by protecting the complainant’s identity, acting quickly and directly against the offender(s), and by demanding that the Constitution of the United States and the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice) adhered to and followed.
  1. Yes, Wreaths Across America, indeed!  This allegedly altruistic stunt, used by an organization which profited by buying these wreaths from its own for-profit company, usurped the religious beliefs of hundreds if not thousands of American service personnel who fought and died for our country.  My uncle was one of them.  An enlisted Air Force B-17 load-master stationed in the Pacific during WWII, he went on to become a rabbi.  He is buried in the national cemetery in Sarasota, Florida.  Were he to know that a wreath was placed on his grave, I can assure you that he would come up out of his grave and put it off. 
  1. After all, there is a more appropriate time to place wreaths, if wreaths must be placed at all, than at Christmas time.  The red ribbons on pine boughs signify a clear association with Christmas.  A better time for wreaths would be at Memorial Day or Veterans’ Day when the president places a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. And, rest assured, this wreath doesn’t look anything like the ones that were used this past Christmas time by this organization. 
  1. The usurpation of hallowed ground is disturbing if not altogether despicable.  It is a subtle attempt at super secessionism, an expression that asserts one religion’s superiority over all others.  Hasn’t this country had enough of this kind of power grab?  Doesn’t such a project discriminate against people like my uncle?  You bet it does.
  1. I would suggest that you read more about our First Amendment Freedom of Religion.  I would further suggest that you read some of the emailed responses to messages similar to and far worse than yours.  Perhaps then you will grasp just how excluding and dismissive Wreaths Across America’s project was and why the MRFF rose as it did to challenge it.  Many in America are simply naïve to such displays, but those who understand will stand against this violation of their relatives’ resting places.  They deserve this defense, and this time around, they got it.  Then, perhaps, you will have a bit less shame over your “Jewish ties” whatever they might be.

 Respectfully, Rabbi Joel R. SchwartzmanCh, Col, USAF (Ret)


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6 Comments

  1. MilitaryReligousFreedomisDumbAF January 3, 2022 at 3:10 pm

    OMG Wreaths. The absolute horror of it all! Let’s spend time and energy on this because it is just such an enormous deal to the majority of the world. This will definitely turn the ship around, get rid of all wreaths at once! Let’s let important issues on the back burner and deal with this right away!

  2. Military Religious Freedom Foundation January 5, 2022 at 4:25 pm

    MRFF’s RESPONSE TO THE DETRACTOR’s COMMENT BELOW:

    CHARITY NAVIGATOR RATES MRFF WITH A 100% PASSING “GIVE WITH CONFIDENCE” GRADE ON ITS FINANCES AND ACCOUNTABILITY. CHARITY NAVIGATOR IS THE LARGEST AND MOST-UTILIZED EVALUATOR OF CHARITIES IN THE UNITED STATES.

    SEE MRFF’s 100% PASSING RATING HERE:

    https://www.charitynavigator.org/ein/203967302

    IRSAUDITTHEMRFF January 5, 2022 at 3:41 pm

    “During the past decade, Military Religious Freedom Foundation founder and president Mikey Weinstein has been a vocal advocate for the separation of church and state in the military.

    But according to an Air Force Times examination of MRFF tax filings, what Weinstein pays himself for running MRFF is well more than the typical top salaries at most nonprofits, military-related or otherwise.

    In 2012, Weinstein received total compensation worth $273,355 — about 47 percent of all money MRFF raised through contributions and grants that year, according to IRS filings accessed on the nonprofit transparency website GuideStar.Weinstein votes on his own salary as part of a three-member board that is smaller than the five-member board Charity Navigator recommends for nonprofits. And MRFF counts him — a paid employee — as an independent voting board member, an apparent violation of IRS rules.”

  3. KAYTHEGARDENER January 6, 2022 at 1:44 pm

    Considering that both Mikey Weinstein & his wife devote 100% of their efforts to this cause of separation of Church & state & are available 24/7 365/366 days a year x 2 persons, it is reasonable. It also covers expenses incurred eg computerized computer systems that stretch globally, several dedicated phone lines for the works, strategy meetings with board members & resource persons, etc, it sems very reasonable & well worth the cost!!
    KMC

  4. MRFF Admin January 7, 2022 at 11:16 am

    MRFF’s RESPONSE TO THE DETRACTOR’s COMMENT BELOW:

    CHARITY NAVIGATOR RATES MRFF WITH A 100% PASSING “GIVE WITH CONFIDENCE” GRADE ON ITS FINANCES AND ACCOUNTABILITY. CHARITY NAVIGATOR IS THE LARGEST AND MOST-UTILIZED EVALUATOR OF CHARITIES IN THE UNITED STATES.

    SEE MRFF’s 100% PASSING RATING HERE:

    https://www.charitynavigator.org/ein/203967302

    IRSAUDITTHEMRFF January 6, 2022 at 2:23 pm

    @KAYTHEGARDNER

    This is the money Mikey is taking home. You are telling me that his salary money is being reinvested into the things you mention, “expenses incurred eg computerized computer systems that stretch globally, several dedicated phone lines for the works, strategy meetings with board members & resource persons, etc,”

    I don’t think so. That comes out of the other 53% that he doesn’t take for himself.

  5. FukMrff January 21, 2022 at 3:43 pm

    Hey fucking moron (MRFFadmin) you can keep posting the same bullshit over and over, but it doesnt mean jack shit. Anybody can fake an audit when you hand them all the paperwork yourself. Youll be exposed one day, count on it.

    Bottom line is Mikey is taking home more than he deserves straight out of the pockets of the people who think their money is going to a noble cause. Ladies and gentlemen your money is going to Mikeys house payments. He probably lives like a king while you idiots are shelling out your last dollars right into his fat pockets. And who gives a shit about your charity rating, go ahead… post it again. Thats the only defense you have? GTFO

    Your organization sucks a bag of jesus dicks.

  6. Grey One Talks Sass January 21, 2022 at 11:14 pm

    I am curious about these posters who complain how the MRFF in general and Mikey in specific spend their monies. I mean, yeah, donations are what funds Mikey’s paycheck so wouldn’t a house payment be one of the bills covered by one’s paycheck?

    Do these gadflies pay their bills with the monies (assuming they have a paying job) they’ve earned?

    Seems to me there’s some sour grapes on the part of the detractors. Perhaps they need to focus their life’s energy in a more positive manner.

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