Religious Freedom?

Published On: February 18, 2023|Categories: MRFF's Inbox|1 Comment|

On Feb 18, 2023, at 12:12 PM, (name withheld) wrote:

Dear Mikey,

Your Military Religious Freedom Foundation is covered in my news feed. 

Your foundation statement, at the top of your web site pages, is scary.  You boys claim that there is only one religion in America that is a military religion of political scripture, patriotic symbology and faith.

Your American military religion adds to the global mix.  There is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion. There are an estimated 10,000 distinct religions worldwide, though nearly all of them have regionally based, relatively small followings. Four religions—Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism—account for over 77% of the world’s population, and 92% of the world either follows one of those four religions or identifies as nonreligious. Religion is usually defined as a social-cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, morals, beliefs, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or organizations, that generally relates humanity to supernatural and spiritual elements.

The themes of your organization imply that anyone who dons a US military uniform should renounce all religious beliefs except for your “patriotic” religion.  Conservative and authoritarian philosophy seeks power over people.  MRRF seeks power over people.  I’m a veteran of 26 years’ service.  In my units were people whose religion and beliefs were in the 10,000 variety mix.  Our best commands recognized these differences, encouraged understanding, tolerance, and inclusion. An example was our unit’s participation in the Gulf Wars that were  conducted in dominantly Islamic countries by soldiers, sailors, and airmen of religious-faith variety but who needed to work together for safety and success.  We did not need an MRFF ‘patriotic’ religion to bind us together. We built mutual respect.

You boys and girls have a right to speak and write freely about anti-religious matters.  In my cynicism, you are on the Putin payroll with a goal to destroy America’s armed forces by causing internal conflict. Wear your Putin-Anti Religion t-shirts proudly.

(name withheld)

Response from MRFF Founder and President Mikey Weinstein

From: Michael L Weinstein
Subject: Religious Freedom?
Date: February 18, 2023 at 1:06:49 PM MST

You know, (name withheld), I think, perhaps there’s been a pretty serious misunderstanding here… At least I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt… When you look at the top of our website, if you can’t understand the concept of an allegory, then that is probably due to poor education on your part… We’re trying to make it clear that anyone can have any faith or non-faith tradition that they wish to have in the military, but they cannot violate the time, place and manner, restrictions of our constitution, and all of the directives, instructions and regulations of the department of defense, in  deploying their faith or non-faith tradition…  Incidentally, about 99.9% of the time, the offenders are one group and one group only; fundamentalist Christian nationalists, that we fight all over DOD, the 17 national security agencies and the departments of homeland security and transportation as the latter to control the Coast Guard and the US merchant service… Step back count to 10 and try to look at this matter from that perspective… If you can’t get it that is YOUR problem… Mikey… 

On Feb 18, 2023, at 1:26 PM, (name withheld) wrote:

Hey Mikey,

A standard approach by authoritarian leaders is to belittle anyone who criticizes them, as you say I am uneducated and have problems.I think you’re full of bullshit.If you seriously believe that about 99.9% of the time, the offenders are one group and one group only; fundamentalist Christian nationalists, then your organization should call them out.  But instead you belittle military leaders, chaplains and any military team leaders who are “woke” and attempt to help with spiritual questions or needs.Get a life and support our armed forces – stop tearing them down.

(name withheld)

Response from MRFF Founder and President Mikey Weinstein

From: Michael L Weinstein
Subject: Religious Freedom?
Date: February 18, 2023 at 1:33:02 PM MST

….uh huh….people in glass houses, little sport!!!!….just how blinded ARE you, Larry??!!…YOU attacked US first by saying we’re “on the Putin payroll” and further advised US to “wear (your) Putin and anti-religious T-shirts proudly” but, somehow, THAT is not “belittling” us??!!!….LOL!!!…..pot meet kettle….and by the way, what is wrong with being “woke”, jack??!!….

Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member Mike Farrell

On Feb 18, 2023, at 1:59 PM, Mike wrote:

Hi Mr. (name withheld),

I think Mikey has already made clear here that the mission of the MRFF is not to establish patriotism as a religion, as you seem to have somehow concluded, but rather to set out the organization’s determination to ensure support of the separation of church and state. Perhaps, as Mikey said, you didn’t comprehend the allegorical intention. If so, that’s on you.

However, to go so far as to suggest, as you have, that the “themes” of the MRFF “imply that anyone who dons a US military uniform should renounce all religious beliefs” is absurd and it suggests a defensive posture on your part that is not only inappropriate, it is reminiscent of many of the attacks on our efforts to defend the constitution. Further, your assertion that the “MRFF seeks power over people” is a blatant falsehood that gives away your attempt to appear to be presenting a scholarly analysis for what it actually is: a cynical attempt to discredit the important work of the MRFF.

Your suggestion about Putin and anti-religious shirts further eviscerates your entire argument. Putin identifies as a Christian.

Mike Farrell
(MRFF Board of Advisors)

Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member Martin France

From: Martin France
Subject: Re: Religious Freedom?
Date: February 18, 2023 at 2:58:35 PM MST

(name withheld), sorry for the quick send and early typo.  Of cou”rse, my first sentence should’ve read “Have you ever…”  I guess that I was writing too quickly and didn’t proofread.  I always like to admit and correct my errors.  I have lots of practice at that having been married for almost 42 years.  If you see any other typos or I can clarify anything else, please let me know.  Cheers, Marty
On Sat, Feb 18, 2023 at 2:49 PM Martin France <[email protected]> wrote:

(name withheld)

, have ever taken a college level course in philosophy or rhetoric?  Have you forgotten ALL of it?  For me, I really learned a lot in those courses, even as an engineering major.  Probably the most important thing I learned was how to identify and avoid logical fallacies.  Those are errors in arguing points that some rely upon when they either can’t or won’t address the question at hand–or it doesn’t suit their personal beliefs and biases.In your email below, you step into one of the classics called the Red Herring.  There’s a great website that covers lots of logical fallacies.  You hit Red Herring pretty march on target, but you also nick a few others as well.  Here’s the site:

Spend some time there.  It will improve you.Your Red Herring is the claim that the MRFF requires all in the military to be non-religious.  That, of course, is patently untrue based upon the evidence.  The preponderance of our clients, advisors, and staff are religious in some way–the majority are Christians.Now, what we DO require is that all members of the military respect the rights of others to believe (or not) as each individual sees fit and that they NOT use the military hierarchy to advance their personal beliefs, impose them on others, or exercise bias (for or against) when dealing their their fellow service members.  That’s it and it’s part of our oath to support and defend our Constitution that prohibits both the establishment of a state religion, preference for one religion (or no religion) over others, or religious tests to serve or hold office.You also jump on the standard ad hominem fallacy by equating the MRFF with Putin.  Nice.  Lots of evidence there.  Calling us “boys and girls” is trite and petty, too, don’t you think?You’re a veteran of 26 years of service?  Good for you.  Frankly, it doesn’t matter if your service is six months, four years, 26 years, or (in my case) more than 40 in uniform–all have the same rights and none is more patriotic or deserving of equal treatment than another.Study up and write back, Larry.  Or just sierra-tango-foxtrot-uniform.

Sincerely,Marty France,

Brigadier General, USAF (Retired)
MRFF Advisory Board Member

Response from MRFF Board Member John Compere

On Feb 18, 2023, at 3:28 PM, John Compere wrote:

Thank you for your prior military service.

Your comments & conclusions regarding the allegorical statement on the website indicated a complete misunderstanding of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. For your information, the Foundation is a non-profit civil rights advocacy organization dedicated to defending the religious freedom of American military men & women by ensuring that military members of all faiths & beliefs receive the guarantee of religious freedom to which they are entitled under the United States Constitution. We have represented more than 82,000 military members to date who requested that their constitutional right to religious freedom be protected & have been nominated 7 times for the Nobel Peace Prize for that advocacy.

Your cynical concluding remarks were asinine & unnecessary. They reflected only on yourself & revealed a lack of civility in your communication.

John Compere
Brigadier General, US Army (Retired)
Disabled American Veteran (Vietnam Era)
Board Member, Military Religious Freedom Foundation

Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member James Currie

On Feb 19, 2023, at 10:52 AM, James Currie wrote:

Dear (name withheld):

I have been asked by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) to respond to your recent email. I’m afraid that you have misconstrued and misinterpreted the MRFF statement about religion in the military that appears on the organization’s webpage. I’ll do my best to explain what I mean.

MRFF is a non-profit, non-partisan entity that defends the freedom of thought and conscience of those who serve in any branch of the United States military establishment. MRFF does not favor Christians or Jews or Muslims or atheists as it goes about its work. As you point out in your email, there are literally thousands of religions, and we can only imagine the confusion and the harm to military readiness that would occur if our military establishment were to favor one set of religious beliefs over another, or favor religious beliefs over non-religious beliefs. Our Founders understood back in 1791 when the First Amendment to the Constitution was first proposed that our country would only be strong and free of government-engendered religious strife if our government stayed out of the business of religion. Hence the wording of the First Amendment.

President Thomas Jefferson, who knew quite well the men who drafted and proposed that First Amendment, perhaps expressed best the meaning of that amendment. In a letter to the Baptist congregation of Danbury, Conn., on January 1, 1802, Jefferson wrote the following:

“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.”

This “wall of separation between Church & State” is what MRFF embraces and defends. MRFF does not promote one religion—or religion in general—as a requirement for those who serve in the military. Its efforts are epitomized by its objection to the recently-announced U.S. OPNAV Instruction 1730.1F, the Navy’s new regulation on “Religious Ministry in the Navy,” which requires commanders to offer a “religious needs assessment” to all sailors arriving at a new duty station. MRFF believes that neither the Navy nor any other branch of the military has any legal right under our Constitution to conduct any sort of “religious needs assessment” for those serving in uniform. Sailors, just like soldiers, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen, are absolutely free under our Constitution to practice any religion they choose, or not to practice any religion at all, if that is their choice.

Perhaps you do not know that the official Veterans Affairs Department website, found online at Emblems of Belief – National Cemetery Administration (, pictures seventy-eight symbols that a veteran can choose among and have inscribed on their marker in a VA cemetery. These include the usual symbols of the various Christian denominations, Judaism, and Islam, as well as symbols that represent other belief systems, such as those for Infinity and the Heart. These symbols have all been accepted by the VA as representing veterans’ belief systems. MRFF does not tell veterans or serving members of the military that their belief systems are wrong or inferior. MRFF defends their right to hold whatever beliefs they wish, so long as they are consistent with supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States, pursuant to the oath we all take. This is what MRFF’s Founder meant when he penned the words that appear at the top of the MRFF website:

“When one proudly dons a U.S. Military uniform, there is only one religious symbol: the American flag. There is only one religious scripture: the American Constitution. Finally, there is only one religious faith: American patriotism.”

MRFF Founder and President, Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein

I hope this explanation will help you understand that MRFF is not promulgating any religion, and as should be obvious to anyone who follows its activities at all, it has nothing to do with supporting Russian President Vladimir Putin. Where you came up with that one, we cannot begin to fathom. MRFF stands for freedom of conscience and belief. Perhaps you should consider doing the same.

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

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One Comment

  1. LCDR Jonathan Michael Roudabush, USN Ret. February 20, 2023 at 12:01 pm

    Could not have said it better myself, Is it ok to repost Mikey’s Words on my social media accounts?

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