October 2008
 

MRFF Files New Federal Lawsuit
Against Defense Department

Case No. 08-CV-2467 KHV/JPO - Filed September 25, 2008

Click to download court filing


SOLDIER/FOUNDATION SUE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
OVER FORCED RELIGIOUS PRAYERS

ALBUQUERQUE -- A nonreligious Kansas soldier today sued his boss, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, after being forced to attend mandatory military events where fundamentalist Christian prayers violated his constitutional rights.

Click here to read more...


The Public Record Logo

Army Private Subjected to
Anti-Semitic Attacks
Brutally Beaten By Soldiers

Tuesday September 30, 2008

By: Jason Leopold

A U.S. Army soldier was brutally beaten by other soldiers in his platoon earlier this month following two incidents in which a drill sergeants allegedly used anti-Semitic slurs to address the soldier.

Pvt. Michael Handman, 20, who has just completed his fifth week of basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia, was recently released from a hospital where he was treated for a concussion, facial wounds, and severe oral injuries following the attack, according to the boy’s father, Jonathan Handman.

The soldier’s father said he received a disturbing telephone call last week from his son’s commanding officer “to tell me that my son is OK and out of the hospital.”

Click here to read more...


Air Force Times Logo

Soldier alleges religious bias
at Lakenheath

Tuesday September 30, 2008

By: Sam LaGrone

An atheist serviceman has filed a federal lawsuit accusing the Defense Department of several counts of religious discrimination, including at least one instance on an Air Force base.

Army Spc. Dustin Chalker and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation are accusing DoD of a laundry list of violations of separation of church and state.

Click to read more...


Atheist soldier at Fort Riley sues Department of Defense

Friday September 26, 2008

By John Hanna
The Associated Press

TOPEKA | The Defense Department says it receives few complaints from military personnel who think they’ve faced religious discrimination.

But the Pentagon has a new federal lawsuit to deal with involving just that issue.

An atheist soldier at Fort Riley and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation sued Defense Secretary Robert Gates in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan., this week, alleging violations of the soldier’s religious freedoms.

Click here to read more...


North Star Writers Group logo

Atheists in Uniform Fight Back Against Religious Radicals in the Ranks

Monday September 29, 2008

By Candace Talmadge

U.S. Army medic Dustin Chalker, a decorated Iraq combat veteran and atheist, last week sued the U.S. Department of Defense and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, claiming he was forced to attend military events where fundamentalist Christian prayers violated his constitutional rights.

Click here to read more...


Albuquerque Journal Logo

Atheist Soldier Sues Gates
Over Mandatory Christian
Prayer Sessions

By Jason Leopold
Friday September 26, 2008


The U.S. Army has been subjecting soldiers to fundamentalist Christian prayer ceremonies against their will during mandatory military events in violation of their basic constitutional rights, according to a new lawsuit filed against Secretary of Defense Robert Gates by a U.S. Army soldier.

Click to read more...


Violation on Video

On September 14, a mass email was sent out to Newsmax subscribers on behalf of their sponsor, Campus Crusade for Christ's Military Ministry. The purpose of the email, with the subject line "Help Give Bibles to Our Troops," was to solicit donations for Campus Crusade's "Rapid Deployment Kits," which contain a pocket-sized New Testament, a daily devotional, and an evangelistic booklet.

The Newsmax email, forwarded to MRFF by a number of our vigilant supporters, contains a link to a page with a Campus Crusade promotional video for the Rapid Deployment Kits. An Army chaplain, Capt. Todd Kepley, (recently promoted to major), appears in uniform in this promotional video, in clear violation the regulation prohibiting the endorsement of a non-federal entity, the same regulation that the Department of Defense Inspector General found the officers who appeared in the Campus Crusade Christian Embassy video guilty
of violating.


Click the "Play"(Left Arrow) button on above video
to watch this 16 second video. If video controls disappear,
move your mouse cursor over the video to re-display them.

MRFF did a little further investigating of Chaplain Kepley, which included looking at the "Chaplain's Corner" columns he wrote as Battalion Chaplain for the newsletter of the 1st Battalion, 222nd Aviation Regiment at Fort Eustis. Not surprisingly, Chaplain Kepley's columns were overtly Christian, including prayers in Jesus' name like the following:

"For the incredible and boundless love you have given to me, O Almighty God, I can only fall to my knees and thank you. Your power is beyond my comprehension. Your awesome holiness is beyond my understanding. Yet your infinite grace is mine because of your love which cost you so much. Thank you. A million times over I say it, 'Thank you!' In the name of Jesus my Lord, Amen."

"God of our Fathers, Bless the Skymasters Family. Keep them safe through great change. Motivate each one, inspiring them to succeed in all that they put their hands on. I praise you for the blessings that you place upon us daily. Lead us in paths of righteousness and deliver us from evil. May this month bring a special peace and a calm provided through your divine guidance. Bless each one. In Jesus’ Name, Amen."


Caught on Camera

Caught on Camera

This photo, with a crucifix hanging from the dog tag chain, appeared on the homepage of the Fort McPherson website for at least two weeks, occupying the majority of the space on the page.

The photo was part of an invitation to a covenant signing ceremony, as described in its caption: "Governor Sonny Perdue invites the public to the Armed Forces Covenant signing ceremony to be held Sept. 9 from 11 until 11:45 a.m. in the north wing of the Georgia State Capitol. At the event, Georgia government, business and local leaders will sign a covenant pledging continued support for the military community."


MRFF Special Alert

Monday September 22, 2008

TAlk 2 Action LogoIf you live in a "swing" state, you may have recently received a copy of a DVD titled Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West as an insert in your newspaper or in your mailbox. While the distribution of this 2005 video, which is reportedly up to 28 million copies, is part of a fear-based campaigning tactic, this is not MRFF's concern with it. As a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, MRFF does not get involved in partisan issues.

MRFF's concern with this anti-Muslim propaganda video is limited to its use by the U.S. military. Participants in this video have already lectured at the Air Force Academy and the Joint Forces Staff College, and the video itself is claimed to have been used by the U.S. Navy.

With the current large scale re-distribution of this video, MRFF is asking its supporters to be on the look-out for any instances of the promotion or screening of the video on military bases, or at any U.S. military academy or college. If you see this happening, or even suspect that it's happening, please email info@militaryreligiousfreedom.org immediately and let us know about it.


The Huffington Post Logo

TAlk 2 Action Logo

"Obsession" Stars Have Lectured
at U.S. Military Colleges;
U.S. Navy Uses Film

Thursday September 25, 2008

By: Chris Rodda

In the past year and a half, two of the Islamophobic fear mongerers featured in Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West -- the politically useful anti-Muslim documentary currently being distributed by the millions in swing states via DVDs inserted in major newspapers -- have been invited to speak at U.S. Military Colleges.

Click here to read more...


The Huffington Post Logo

Muslim Children Gassed at Dayton Mosque After Obsession DVD Hits Ohio

Sunday September 28, 2008

By: Chris Rodda

Friday, September 26th ended a week in which thousands of copies of Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West -- the fear-mongering, anti-Muslim documentary being distributed by the millions in swing states via DVDs inserted in major newspapers and through the U.S. mail -- were distributed by mail in Ohio. The same day, a "chemical irritant" was sprayed through a window of the Islamic Society of Greater Dayton, where 300 people were gathered for a Ramadan prayer service. The room that the chemical was sprayed into was the room where babies and children were being kept while their mothers were engaged in prayers. This, apparently, is what the scare tactic political campaigning of John McCain's supporters has led to -- Americans perpetrating a terrorist attack against innocent children on American soil.

Click here to read more...


The Huffington Post Logo

Spirituality Gains Ground In
Treatment Of Ill Veterans

Saturday September 20, 2008

By: Mallika Rao


And a response from MRFF Director of Veterans Affairs Akiva David Miller:

I read with trepidation Malika Rao's article, entitled "Spirituality Gains Ground In Treatment Of Ill Veterans", that appeared in Saturday's Washington Post. I am a 100% service-connected, disabled U.S. Navy Veteran, I'm Jewish and I have experienced first hand how Christian chaplains at the Iowa City VAMC have used their directive to perform a "spiritual assessment" to determine that I was both "un-churched" and in need of salvation. As a result of this assessment I was aggressively proselytized while hospitalized with acute chest pains at the Iowa City VAMC.

Click here to read the article and the full response...


MRFF In Box
MRFF's Inbox

DETRACTOR CAT

September 19, 2008

Detractor Cat Photo
Image for illustrative purposes only

Dear MRFF,

Just to let you know, I was looking at your e-mail about the play at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. One of my many cats was sitting in front of the monitor and all of a sudden I was on your web page with you wondering why I unsubscribed. Fortunately, you provide a link to re-subscribe,
so I did.

The cat that unsubscribed me is actually one of my favorites. She is very wise and has been able to tame the dog that came to live with us recently. I'm about to disturb her rest on the printer by printing this e-mail.

Best regards,

(name withheld)


September 26, 2008

Mickey,

I consider myself a constitutionalist, and I believe in the fact that the state is not to require its citizens to adopt a particular religion such as Islam, Catholic, Episcopalian or even Judaism. We are all free to exercise our faith in God the way we see fit. The military is not supposed to dictate to its men what faith they are to follow. Furthermore if a particular military minister who follows say the Baptist way wants to pray publicly in the name of Jesus he should be allowed to do so. If a Rabbi would like to pray in the name of G-D then he should be allowed to do so. (Christians consider Jesus the redeemer and as such he is God along with the father. Not a separate God, but is equally God with the Father.)

Click here to read more...


September 27, 2008

[Warning: explicit language]

Dear Mikey,

Thank you for getting back to me so soon. There needs to be more groups and people like you in this world. What your group does is awesome. I don’t know were I else I could have turned. My son was in college at (withheld). He was in his second year and feeling lost with no direction, so he decided to join the Army. I supported him 110%. I told him this would be good for him and that the Army would give him a lot. What I didn’t know was that it would give him the feeling of living in Germany during the 30’s as a Jew. What a fool and bad father I am!!!

Click here to read more...


September 30, 2008

Dear Mikey,

I appreciate your web site and objectives (the site is very nice) but the opinions expressed are based as an opposition to the very constitution you are hoping to defend. This is because the United States Constitution is a Christian document. There are, of course, other arguments against my position but it doesn't change the fact. Since the constitution of this nation is actually a Christian document, it was designed to not limit the free expression of varying doctrine and dogma within the Christian faith while providing the freedom to non believers to accept or not accept the faith of God in Christ.

Click here to read more...


You be our researcher

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.

Please report anything that
may be of concern to:


LA Times Logo

Steve Cosson and the Civilians explore 'This Beautiful City'

Friday September 26, 2008

Steve Cosson

BLESSED: Steven Cosson directs the play "This Beautiful City," which he has co-written with Jim Lewis. The play, which opens at the Kirk Douglas Theater, details the explosion of America's evangelical Christian movement.

The gulf between evangelical Christians and liberals
is examined at Kirk Douglas Theatre.

By Patrick Pacheco

After John McCain selected Sarah Palin as his vice presidential nominee last month, Steve Cosson, the 40-year-old artistic director of the New York-based theatrical troupe the Civilians, was intrigued by some of the explosive commentary revolving around her membership in an evangelical congregation in her Alaska hometown of Wasilla.

Click here to read more...


MRFF's Mikey Weinstein
portrayed in major theater production
at Kirk Douglas Theater in Los Angeles

September 21st - October 26th

MRFF President and Founder Mikey Weinstein's Federal lawsuit against the United States Air Force in October 2005 was an igniting spark to uncover the unconstitutional religious infiltration of fundamentalist evangelism in the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.  This play features Mikey’s struggle as part of the larger tapestry of events occurring in and around Colorado Springs.

The Beautiful City Poster

A mesmerizing, fiercely intelligent portrait of Colorado Springs.

The Civilians, the OBIE-Award winning theatre company from New York City known for their boldly theatrical snapshots of the human psyche, brings its newest project to the Kirk Douglas Theatre.

In this new play with music, they tackle the fervor behind the Evangelical movement, the effect its growth had on its unofficial U.S. capital, Colorado Springs, and the confusion of a community in crisis following the scandalous fall of pastor Ted Haggard.

Created from interviews with actual persons and featuring music by the award-winning composer of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, This Beautiful City is a fiercely intelligent, explosive and ultimately sincere exploration of a uniquely American phenomenon and its passionate followers.

Co-produced with the Vineyard Theatre, New York.

The Beautiful City Photo

Click on the image above to watch a 1 minute promotional video for
The Civilians' This Beautiful City performed at Actors Theatre of Louisville's Humana Festival of New American Plays in March 2008.


Call to Action

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.

If you'd like to offer your legal services to MRFF, please contact us at info@militaryreligiousfreedom.org.

We look forward to hearing from you.


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Message From
Mikey Weinstein
MRFF President


Mikey Weinstein

Greetings MRFF supporters!

As usual, a lot is happening around here. I just returned from California, where I spoke to an international conference and saw the play “This Beautiful City”, which speaks closely to the fight we are in, and even includes a ‘Mikey Weinstein’ character modeled directly after me.

More importantly, we filed our next lawsuit last week in Federal Court, challenging the military’s ability to force our honorable servicemen and women to attend events that begin with a sectarian prayer. This is our chance to affect change on an enormous scale, and we need your support more than ever to ensure that we can continue this fight. Thank you for being there for us!

Your Ally,
Mikey


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Mikey Weinstein and his family
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FRIENDS OF MRFF

Just released:
"The Family:
The Secret Fundamentalism at
the Heart of American Power"
by Jeff Sharlet



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"[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."
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former religion reporter
for the Washington Post

 

Just released:
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That Rocked the Bush Administration"
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To arrange an interview or press article with Mikey Weinstein,
Please contact Bekki Miller at:
(337) 356-8696
bekki.miller@militaryreligiousfreedom.org