June 21, 2022
MRFF was contacted via email on June 19, 2022 by a client representing a total of 37 active-duty members of a large unit on a very large military base. Self-identified as a Christian and the son-in-law of a preacher at a large church, the MRFF client representative described their group as mostly Christian (21) along with other military members identified as Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Wiccan, Navajo faith and Atheist, Agnostic.
Their complaint detailed a strange and blatantly unconstitutional attempt by one of their unit’s 3 most senior officers (rank: Major) to create ‘Witness Bearing Christians’ of unit members based on what can best be described as a ‘Hansel & Gretel’ type of approach. In their email, the MRFF client representative in this matter detailed this Major’s strange religious proselytizing activity and MRFF’s quick response:
What happened is this. Two weeks ago our unit which is very large started noticing that chocolate brownies were being left all over our workspaces. They all had a blue question mark on them in cake icing. The mystery brownies were left all over the place starting 2 weeks ago and continued until the middle of just this last week.
Then late last week the mystery got solved. One of our 3 most senior officers for our large unit went out on social media to tell everyone to come to the main conference room at noon late last week to get the answers to the “question mark” chocolate brownies. Some of us thought it was a reference to The Riddler from the Batman movies and others had different ideas. It was fun we thought. Then the fun stopped
Of course most everyone went to the large conference room at the appointed hour. Then “Major X” I will call him came in and said he and his wife had made and distributed the brownies. He got up in front of all of us and said that the “question mark” on the brownies was meant to primarily stimulate an answer rather than a question. The “answer” he said was “Jesus Christ” and the underlying “question” was “if you were to die today would you be in heaven with Jesus or burning in hell with Satan”.
My fellow service members and I were stunned into mostly silence and many started leaving the conference room in droves. Major X told us that he was with some group called “OCF” which we found out stands for the “Officers Christian Fellowship”. Some people stayed behind to talk further with him unfortunately. (Also it turned out that we had a foreign military delegation visiting our base from overseas and they had to wait out for Major X to get done proselytizing us lower ranking troops before they could begin to use the big conference room facilities which is seriously sketchy and messed up!)
Mostly we were all shocked that this “Jesus or hell” shit was coming from one of our senior officer superiors. A few of us me included knew to call the MRFF and Mr. Weinstein. We called him late at night but he still answered his phone and got into action for us all right away.
Within 24 hours Major X had been called into see our Commander’s Commander whom Mr. Weinstein had had a long conversation with. There’s no secret about what happened next. Because Major X came back from getting his butt kicked by our Commander’s Commander and was publicly announcing to anybody within earshot that he was getting a Letter of Reprimand and that he did not deserve this. He complained that apparently it was fine to have a Black History Month and Pride Month for the LGBTQ but “just let a Christian try to celebrate his faith and watch him get crucified!”. Major X said he would “get a lawyer to fight this anti-Christian discrimination.”
Everybody was stunned and didn’t know how to react to this outburst? We had a Commander’s Call at the end of the week and our Commander made a special point to recite the regs which prohibit religious proselytizing as done by Major X. Major X did not come to the Commander’s Call which had never happened before. Guess we all know why.
Anyway we all thank Mr. Weinstein and the MRFF for handling this mess for us all and getting our chain of command to do the right thing. Major X has a lot of power in our unit and nobody wanted to try to stand up to him until the MRFF was called in and did it for us all. Major X has never been shy in the past about wearing his Christian beliefs on his sleeve to those of us lower in rank but what happened with these question mark chocolate brownies was a new low even for him. It was so wrong and hurtful.
Thank you Military Religious Freedom Foundation!
Don’t go away as we all may need you again real soon!