FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Albuquerque, NM - September 5th, 2008 - California Council of Churches IMPACT (CCCI), one of the country's largest Christian organizations, announced Friday, September 5th, 2008 that it endorses the charitable mission of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) to preserve the separation of church and state in America's armed forces. CCCI intends to support the Federal lawsuit filed against the Department of Defense (DoD) earlier this year by MRFF alleging widespread and systemic DoD persecution and discrimination against U.S. servicemen and women for refusing military command directives to embrace fundamentalist evangelical Christianity.
I've just returned from two weeks in the United States, putting together a six-part documentary series on religion and politics in America. We wrapped in Denver and the Democratic Party love-in. Over the past few days back in Canada, I've been watching the Republicans lathering up in Minnesota during their soap-operatic hoedown.
As a result, I find myself painfully aware of the vacuity of the great American discourse. The demagoguery, propaganda and political legerdemain practised by the central characters - that I have come to expect. As an audience, we go in believing and seldom, if ever do we change our minds. What I find sad, however, is what the journalists and producers bring to us afterward - the dearth of thoughtful, "independent" commentary and analysis. And herein lies the cautionary tale for Canadians as we enter our own national election.
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On June 13, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) delivered the commencement address at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. The last four minutes of Brownback's address turned into an all out sermon. This overtly religious address being allowed by the College's commander, Lt. Gen. William Caldwell IV, and the video still being featured on the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center website is bad enough, but what makes it even more inappropriate and problematic is that among the 800 graduates that this sermon was addressed to were 50 foreign officers from U.S. allies. Many of these officers were from predominantly Muslim countries, and others from countries with significant populations of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and other religions, whose officers are likely to be any number of religions other than Christian.
Window in Fraise Chapel, Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan
MRFF has collected numerous photos and videos of chapels on U.S. bases in Iraq and Afghanistan that violate Army Regulation 165–1, which states that "The chapel environment will be religiously neutral when the facility is not being used for scheduled worship" and "Portable religious symbols, icons, or statues may be used within a chapel during times of scheduled religious worship. Symbols are to be moved or covered when not in use. Distinctive religious symbols, such as crosses, crucifixes, the Star of David, menorah, and other religious symbols, will not be affixed or displayed permanently on the chapel exterior or grounds." Many chapels have crosses permanently affixed to their doors, and on their walls and windows, that clearly cannot be removed at times when Christian services are not in progress.
According to an article about Fraise Chapel in Canada's Christian Week magazine, "Kandahar is home to the largest international force on the front lines in Afghanistan. Christians, Jews and Muslims all worship in the same building." The article also says that during services for other religions, the curtain is used to obscure the cross, painted on the window to resemble stained glass. Obviously, this curtain, shown pulled back in the photo, does little to hide the cross when light is coming through the window. Other photos in which the curtain is down confirm this. And, of course, the window is always clearly visible from outside the chapel whether the curtain is drawn or not.
Rest Assured New Orleans,
I'm Sure Lt. Gen. Van Antwerp
Praying for You
For those who don't know who Lt. Gen. Robert L. Van Antwerp is, he's the Commanding General of the Army Corps of Engineers -- the guy who's been in charge of repairing the levees in New Orleans for the past sixteen months. He's also one of our military's most prolific fundamentalist Christian holy rollers.
As the heavy rains continue to fall in the wake of Gustav, and other storms are forming in the Atlantic, let's all hope that Lt. Gen. Van Antwerp has been praying the official U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Prayer -- a prayer from the engineers asking "almighty God, engineer of all eternity" to "Open our inner lives to know You better and receive Your gift of deliverance through salvation. Grant us wisdom in our efforts to improve, maintain, protect, and restore Your creation."
I've written here about Lt. Gen. Van Antwerp before, when the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) re-aired a Fourth of July Christian Concert special featuring, in violation of the Constitution, the U.S. Code, and military regulations, an interview with Van Antwerp, footage of basic trainees filmed at Fort Leonard with the general's knowledge and permission, and the dipping of two American flags to Christian pop star Carman by a military color guard. In the TBN special, Van Antwerp, in uniform, was introduced as a past president of the Officers' Christian Fellowship (OCF), an organization of over 14,000 officers and chapters on virtually every U.S. military installation worldwide, whose goal, paraphrased by Lt. Gen. Van Antwerp in the interview, is to "create a spiritually transformed U.S. military, with Ambassadors for Christ in uniform, empowered by the Holy Spirit." The re-airing of this special prompted a demand by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) for an investigation by the Department of Defense.
Something I've noticed since I began working for MRFF is that many of the emails we receive reporting unconstitutional religious activities in the military begin with their authors saying something to the effect of "You probably already know about this, but..."
This makes me wonder how many people aren't emailing us because they assume that we would already know about whatever they've come across. Well, you know what Felix Unger said about the word "ass-u-me."
Yes, we do get many emails about things we already know about, but we'd rather read a hundred emails about one of these things than not get the one email about something we didn't already know about.
It was a volunteer looking at websites for military Bibles who stumbled across the Revival Fires Ministries website, which led us to uncover the much bigger story of Navy Chaplain Brian K. Waite, a chaplain who, in spite of a plagiarism scandal and his anti-Islamic writings, was named the director of a doctoral Military Ministries program for other military chaplains. After MRFF exposed the real Chaplain Waite, he was fired from the civilian institution where this doctoral program was held.
It was an email about a recent Air Force Times interview with Air Force Chief of Chaplains Maj. Gen. Cecil Richardson that led Mikey to pick up that issue of the Air Force Times, leading to the discovery of an ad in that paper for the book Under Orders: A Spiritual Handbook for Military, and the book's endorsement by Gen. David Petraeus -- a story that made its way to MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann.
The constitutional violations occurring in our military are so numerous and widespread that we can't possibly find all of them ourselves. MRFF counts on its supporters and volunteers -- the indispensable "eyes and ears" who alert us to everything from the most egregious of constitutional violations to articles we might be interested in.
So, keep the emails coming, and never think that anything is too insignificant or assume that we might already know about it. You never know -- you might have stumbled into the next bombshell of a story and not even realize it.
I think I mentioned to you the other night that we had requested the movie, Constantine's Sword from Netflix!!!
Well. we watched it last night and I must tell you how imprtessed we were with it's contents and "straightforward" historical information about why Jews have been persecuted over all these centuries....It's by far the clearest representation of the "Whys" and Hows"
Also want to compliment Mikey and his family on standing up to the Evangelical improprieties at the Air Force Academy....They are a very brave and high-mined group of young people and I know just how proud you both must be of them....I just wish more people, besides Jews would avail themselves of this vital information.....
September 4, 2008
I just saw you on German TV and wanted to drop a small note of appreciation about your cause and your activities.
I do hope there are enough Americans left with common sense and that you can have a smooth transition to a democratic presidency without the Christian Embassy gaining any more power.
All the best
with kind regards
August 22, 2008
Thank you so much for your courageous reporting. I say "courageous" because you are exposing powerful people and organizations for
what they are--deceitful paragons of control. It is simply horrifying that our American Military is being infiltrated with so called "christian"
Just for the record, Hitler was a "christian". He evoked help from the Vatican--as a means of ultimate self-justification. He validated his
persecution of Jews because he promoted that they somehow "killed" Christ. In actuality, Hitler demonstrated the danger of
fundamentalist control in the name of "christian" ideology.
Interesting book for you: "Of God's and Beasts: The Nazis and the Occult", by Dusty Sklar. This book outlines the foundations of Hitler's
control base through the "Thule Society". Worth checking out...
Keep up the great work!
August 20, 2008
A MRFF Chapter President expresses his thoughts.
I have written many words in praise of the courage demonstrated by those who have placed our country and its timeless constitution first and their personal safety second.
Over the centuries we have been witness to the many citizens who have been recognized for their bravery, extraordinary contributions and willingness to sacrifice for others.
There have also been those who, not as celebrated but nonetheless willing to place themselves in harms way, rendered services to America no less vital than the most recognized.
I speak of Ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife Valerie (Plame) Wilson whom I think are, thus far, the most underrated American Heroes of the 21st Century.
Theirs is a story of coolness under fire and unselfish patriotism to which any true American would aspire but rarely attains.
These two American Heroes defied extreme political pressures in order to maintain truth, an uncommon virtue in the Bush administration.
Hopeful that this truth would prevail, they honestly and, as it turns out, naively disseminated it where the bottom feeders of the Bush-Cheney-Rove political machine, could gather it up and put it through the grinder of traitorous government operatives such as Scooter Libby and like-minded lickspittle columnists. As a result the single most nefarious act of the entire Bush years apart from the illegal and bloody Iraq War, was placing the life of Valerie Plame in imminent danger by identifying her as a covert CIA agent and attempting to discredit Ambassador Wilson after he debunked Bush's Nigerian Yellow Cake scam.
Their remarkable exploits in bringing truth to the American people have largely gone unrecognized due primarily to the plethora of clouded and picked over news reports of the time and the convoluted and disingenuous emissions of the criminal administration they served.
But even a cursory examination of any objective journal recounting the contributions of these two brave individuals will disclose an astounding admixture of pure dedication and unaffected integrity we have not seen in our leaders for too long.
As an Air Force rescue pilot serving in Vietnam, I thought I had given much to my country and our way of life. But I can assure you that the enemy fire I received while extracting our brave aircrew from the jaws of death was no less deadly than that directed at the Wilson's by a self-absorbed president and his minions in a purposeful attempt to assassinate their superb character and innocence of their service to America.
Thankfully, Joe and Valerie's indomitable core spirit prevailed as did the truth, confirming their selfless service to America and exposing the Machiavellian machinations of an administration run amok.
And they are not yet done. Valerie continues to bring the details of this horror story to Congress and the press and Joe has joined forces with the Military Religious Freedom Foundation as an advisory board member and traveling spokesman. Along with founder and president Mikey Weinstein, Joe has already made quite a dent in the black armor of the Bush abetted Dominionists who embrace the Dark Side of Christianity and routinely threaten the personal and religious liberties of our young men and women in the Armed Forces .
My hat's off to Joe and Valerie and I hope a grateful government, should one perchance be elected in November, gives them the accolades they truly deserve.
Colorado Springs Chapter
Military Religious Freedom Foundation
Our fight is against those with passion. We need yours.
We are currently looking for interested and active supporters to join a local MRFF chapter as either a member or an officer.
Our fight is against those with passion. We need yours.
In our fight in the media and the courts, your assistance is vital to the success of our mission. We have had offers of assistance from many excellent attorneys nationwide, but we are continuously looking for others in all areas of the country.
We've had another monumental month at MRFF. California Council of Churches IMPACT has officially endorsed our work, including our current and pending lawsuits on behalf of our honorable Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, and Sailors. This is tremendous validation for our work and is a major milestone in our young history.. They are a Christian organization consisting of 21 denominations representing 5500 congregations and 1.5 million members within the mainstream, progressive Protestant communities of faith. The denominations themselves have over 6.5 million members in California alone. Please take the time to thank the Council for their support.
"[Sharlet] has managed to infiltrate the most influential and secretive fundamentalist network in America, and ground his reporting in the most astute and original explanation of fundamentalism I’ve
ever read. . . . Indispensable."
- Hanna Rosin,
former religion reporter
for the Washington Post
"In Justice: Inside the Scandal
That Rocked the Bush Administration"
by David Iglesias