Extremely Divisive Sectarian Proselytizing Event & ‘Alter Call’ Aimed at Uniformed Junior Enlisted Combat Unit Personnel Cancelled within 48 Hours of MRFF Involvement

Published On: February 12, 2024|Categories: Achievements, News|0 Comments|

February 12, 2024

MRFF Senior Research Director Chris Rodda noted in an article for the Daily Kos our history in dealing with numerous overly cute and coy attempts to camouflage unconstitutional, illegal, and divisive attempts at sectarian religious proselytizing to subordinates within the U.S. Military:

Whether it’s a Halloween “Bible Contest” for soldiers “who do not wish to honor Satan” or a commander’s “Puritan Pilgrim” Thanksgiving, Christian zealot officers and NCOs in our military just can’t seem to resist turning any holiday or observance into an excuse to proselytize their subordinates.

This includes Valentine’s Day, as we’ve seen here at Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) many times over the years ….  This co-opting of Valentine’s Day to make it all about Jesus has hitherto just been in writing — chaplains’ articles on military websites, e-mails, etc. — but for this year’s Valentine’s Day some fundamentalist Christian officers and NCOs at one military installation wanted to really ramp it up.

38 junior enlisted service members (27 are Christians with the balance identifying as Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, or non-Religious) contacted MRFF for assistance after they were informed via normal official unit communications channels that a ‘special’ Valentines Day Event had been planned for the largest HQ facility assembly area during normal duty day lunch hours.  This special event included a military chaplain’s sermon on how the “greatest love of all is Jesus’ love for all of us” to be followed by an ‘alter call’ for those who wanted to accept Christ right then and there as their personal savior.

These eventual MRFF clients discovered that the event had been organized by 2 junior officers and 2 senior enlisted members of their combat unit who belong to a private outfit seeking to proselytize to and/or convert troops to become ‘Christians’ (as defined by the private outfit).  Prior to contacting MRFF (…or even being aware of MRFF’s existence), 2 of the eventual 38 MRFF clients met with the event organizers to lodge their objections based on the obvious divisiveness of this planned proselytizing event.  The event organizers accused those objecting to the event as being “anti-Christian and woke” by trying to protest it.

In response to this myopic and entitled stance by the Event organizers (unit cohesion be damned) the eventual MRFF clients did some fast web research and immediately discovered the MRFF.  What transpired next was shared in an email from one of our clients on February 10, 2024:

We called Mikey Weinstein who answered his own phone and got him some key contact information about our commander which Mikey asked us for. He told us that this event violated the time and place and manner requirements of the law and our own (military branch name withheld) regs.

48 hours later we received word that the entire event had been scrapped! And there’s now some sort of (military unit designation withheld)-level investigation going on as to how this thing ever got as far as it did w/o our command section apparently even knowing?
All the props and respect and thanks in the world to Mikey and the MRFF! MRFF got it done!

These actions had been confirmed in a separate email from this unit’s commander:

From: (Active Duty Military Commander’s e-mail address withheld)
Subject: Valentine’s Day Event Cancelled
Date: February 9, 2024 at 2:57:07 PM MST
To: Information Weinstein <[email protected]>

Dear Mr. Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation,

This e-mail is to confirm the telecon we had within the last 24 hours wherein you had informed me in my capacity as the Commander of (military unit name withheld) at (military installation name withheld) of a certain matter of unauthorized Christian proselytizing which was to occur at a scheduled “Valentine’s Day Celebration”. This event was to occur during duty hours at our HQ building facility with military members in uniform.

I am also confirming that you were not officially lodging an official MRFF “complaint” as per the new legislation contained in the FY 2024 NDAA. Instead, you were giving me as the unit’s Commander an “FYI” so as to facilitate my ability to fix this matter internally. Thus, you are also confirming herewith that I am not mandated pursuant to the established timeline deadlines of this new law signed by the Commander in Chief, President Biden, to send this matter for both review and final decision to our Service Secretary for further coordinating with senior military and civilian legal and chaplain elements at the (military branch named withheld) Secretariat level.

This e-mail is to confirm with you that I have ordered that this event be immediately cancelled. I have also initiated a formal investigation as to how, why and by whom it was initially planned and organized.

Thank you Mr. Weinstein for bringing this to my personal attention as the (military unit name withheld) Commander and giving us a chance to stop this unauthorized religious event from happening under my command.  Thank you and the MRFF for caring for our nation’s military members.

(Commander’s name withheld)

Should there be any repercussions from cancellation of this event, our clients indicated in an email they knew exactly what to do next:

The only thing now is whether any of us who protested will face any kickback reprisal? If they try that we will go right back to the MRFF as a shield.

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