January 2009
 

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AP Logo

Attorneys for atheist soldier
to amend lawsuit

Monday, December 15 2008

By John Milburn
Associated Press Writer

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- Attorneys for an atheist soldier at Fort Riley said Monday that they plan to amend their lawsuit against the Department of Defense to include new allegations about evangelizing in combat.

The evidence is in videos discovered by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which along with Spc. Dustin Chalker is suing Secretary Robert Gates over alleged violations of religious rights.

Chalker, an atheist, claims he has been forced to attend mandatory military formations where Christian prayers are given.

The videos show soldiers and Christian missionaries talking about their faith and the desire to spread Christianity to Muslims. The video also shows the missionaries, who were embedded with units, handing out Dari language Bibles.

"What we're putting in is shocking," said Mikey Weinstein, president of the foundation.

Read more...


Details of Lawsuit Amendments

The amended complaint contains two additions regarding unsuccessful attempts by service members to resolve their complaints through military channels, which SPC Chalker as well as other service members have, in fact, tried to do. This is extremely important because the DoJ's motion to dismiss Jeremy Hall's case relied heavily upon the "Mindes Doctrine," asserting that the federal courts should not hear Hall's case because he had failed to utilize the military channels that the DoJ claims would have adequately handled the complaint. Based on the reports of service members who have unsuccessfully attempted to utilize these military channels, MRFF contends that these military channels consistently fail to adequately address or resolve such complaints.

Read more...


The Huffington Post

MRFF Amends Lawsuit Against
Defense Department

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

By Chris Rodda

On December 29, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) filed an amended complaint in the case of its co-plaintiff, decorated combat medic Army SPC Dustin Chalker. The amendment includes a number of additional examples of the "pattern and practice" of unconstitutional promotions of religion in the military, but, most importantly, now includes that SPC Chalker's attempt to resolve his complaint through military channels failed. Chalker was informed last week that the Army has determined his objection to Christian prayers at mandatory military functions to be "unfounded."

Those who were following the Jeremy Hall case may recall that the Department of Justice, in its entire 350-page motion to dismiss, really only had two arguments. One was that Hall hadn't exhausted military channels to resolve his complaint, and the other was that MRFF's allegations of a "pattern and practice" of unconstitutional promotions of religion throughout the military "lacked specificity." Both of these arguments are addressed with the Chalker complaint. (Jeremy Hall's case has essentially been replaced by the Chalker case because Hall, who served two tours in Iraq, is scheduled to leave the Army in a few months when his enlistment is up.)

Read more...


Caught on Camera

The Army's 2008 suicide prevention program promotes religion over no religion, Christianity over other religions, and instructs not only chaplains, but behavioral health providers to "to openly advocate spirituality and religiosity." Each slide of the PowerPoint presentation has a script that includes a "spiritual talking point." These overt promotions of religion are a new addition in the presentation created by Army Chaplain (LTC) Orman "Wayne" Boyd in the spring of 2008. Although we're now into 2009, this 2008 presentation is still the current version on the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine website.

Slide with Cross

Slide from the latest version of the Army suicide prevention presentation, "Suicide Awareness for Soldiers 2008." This image also appears in the Army's 2008 suicide prevention manual, which contains the instructions for presenting the presentation.

Slide without Cross

The same photo in the Army's "ACE (Peer) Suicide Prevention Program" presentation, created in 2007, did not contain the soldier and
Christian cross in the sky.

The 2008 Suicide Awareness presentation's many spiritual talking points include: "Spirituality looks outside of oneself for meaning and provides resiliency for failures in life experiences. Religiosity adds the dimension of a supportive community to help one deal with crises. Both embed themselves in a relationship with God, or a higher power, that provides an everlasting relationship..." and "Connectivity to the Divine is fundamental to developing resiliency that allows one to deal with disappointments." The presentation also includes a DVD of former football star and born-again Christian Terry Bradshaw talking about his battle with depression. The talking point following the DVD is: "Terry is very open about his faith in God and his relationship with his church. Spirituality is an invaluable ingredient in his battle with this disease."

Near the end of the presentation, the presenter is instructed to have the audience adopt a word rooted in Christian scripture as a "motto or mantra." The spiritual talking point for that slide is: "Emphasize the phrase 'that you persevere, that you stay alive.' This is from a Greek word 'Hupomeno' which is used in Christian scriptures, particularly in the Pauline epistles. It is also used by James, the bishop of Jerusalem, as Jerusalem was in devastation and about to be destroyed. He wanted all Christians, despite the persecutions and violent times, to not lose hope, to keep on enduring. Encourage the audience to repeat this word and use it as a motto or mantra when in difficult times."

This presentation is not only an unconstitutional promotion of Christianity for the soldiers who are mandated to attend it, but for the behavioral health providers and non-Christian chaplains who must present it

Read related The Public Record story below:

Army Manual Promotes Christianity
to Combat Epidemic of Suicides

Saturday, January 3, 2009

By Jason Leopold

The U.S. Army’s suicide prevention manual advises military chaplains to promote “religiosity,” specifically Christianity, as a way to deter distraught soldiers from taking their own lives, according to an amended federal lawsuit filed last week against Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and the Department of Defense.

The 2008 Army Suicide Prevention Manual says “Chaplains... need to openly advocate behavioral health as a resource” to treat suicidal soldiers and instructs behavioral health providers “to openly advocate spirituality and religiosity as resiliency factors."

"Spirituality looks outside of oneself for meaning and provides resiliency for failures in life experiences. Religiosity adds the dimension of a supportive community to help one deal with crises. Both embed themselves in a relationship with God, or a higher power, that provides an everlasting relationship. Bottom line, Soldiers should not base their reason for living in another human being!” says a slide included in the Army's "Suicide Awareness for Soldiers 2008" PowerPoint presentation.

Read more...


The Republic Newspaper Logo

Faith and Freedom

Saturday, January 3, 2009

By Brian Blair

Mikey Weinstein gets eight to 12 death threats per week at his New Mexico home. They threaten to kill his dogs or his daughter.

People call him Satan. The Antichrist. The Most Dangerous Man in America. And those are some of the nicer labels.

“I knew this wouldn’t be like riding a unicorn through a cotton candy forest passing out lollipops to singing animals,” he said while speaking from his house. “This is bloodsport.”

He refers to his role as founder and president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a role that will bring him to Columbus’ Unitarian Universalist Congregation to speak Jan. 11. The foundation’s goal: to ensure that all military members have the religious freedom guaranteed by the Constitution.

Read more...


The Public Record Logo

Proselytizing in the Military Likely to Continue Under Obama

Saturday, December 27, 2008

By Jason Leopold

Barack Obama's decision to have the evangelical megachurch leader Rick Warren conduct the invocation at next month's presidential inauguration proves that fundamentalist Christians still wield enormous power within the federal government and will likely continue to be a dominating force under an Obama administration.

Cartoon

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the U.S. military where, for the past several years, in apparent violation of the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution, chaplains have openly proselytized to thousands of active-duty soldiers and, in some cases, have tried to convert Iraqis and Afghans to Christianity.

Read more...


Violation on Video

This month's video, consisting of clips from two videos filmed at the First Baptist Church of Eunice in Eunice, Louisiana in November 2007, stars Navy chaplain Lt. Ben Howard, one of about eighty chaplains serving at Camp Pendleton, California.

Click here to read more and to watch the video...


The Public Record Logo

Pentagon cracks down on evangelizing at recruit-processing centers

Friday, December 26, 2008

By Dale Eisman • Virginian-Pilot

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is cracking down on evangelizing at its recruit-processing centers, telling religious groups that it won’t permit proselytizing at the sites.

A new regulation distributed last month to commanders of the 65 centers says that religious literature and publications produced by other “non-federal entities” may be made available to recruits at the sites but that they cannot show favoritism to any particular faith or group.

“Under no circumstances,” will any outsiders “be permitted to proselytize, preach or provide spiritual counseling” to recruits or staff members at the centers, the regulation adds.

Read more...


The Huffington Post

Holidays offer chance to reflect
on religion-military balance

Monday, December 22, 2008

By Robert F. Dorr

What is the proper role of religion in the military workplace and in the war zone?

Judging from mail I’ve received from readers, service members have no problem when bosses or buddies talk in a general way about spirituality in the back shops or on the battlefield.

However, military members are not all comfortable when the talk becomes specific to Christianity. Even when the issue seems innocuous — one unit planned a “Christmas party” until troops asked the commander to make it a “holiday party” — some military members don’t want sectarian beliefs extolled in a work setting.

More important, most troops don’t want others, especially those of higher rank, trying to convert them. That’s called proselytizing, and it’s not supposed to be permitted in the workplace.

Read more...


Salina Journal Logo

All of us are atheists

Sunday, December 21, 2008

By Roshana Ariel
Assistant Editor

We don't need Scriptures to justify the worldwide desire to survive

All of us are atheists

When you hear about the teachings of Islam, do you embrace them? Do you believe that suicide bombers will suddenly be greeted in heaven by 72 virgins and all the celestial delights imaginable for eternity?

No? Then you're an atheist to that religion.

It sounds absurd to you. It has no pull on you, no effect, other than it might make you scoff at how ridiculous those beliefs sound to your ears, which have, throughout your lifetime, most likely become accustomed to the Judeo-Christian beliefs here at home.

You're an atheist.

Read more...

Click here to read a readers response and Salina Journal's apology


MRFF In Box
MRFF's Inbox

January 6, 2009

The following is a letter from Randi Handman, the mother of Pvt. Michael Handman. Pvt. Handman is the Jewish U.S. Army soldier who was viciously beaten at Ft. Benning, GA last September. Handman also experienced egregious religious discrimination at the hands of two drill sergeants, one of whom referred to him as "Juden" (the German word
for "Jew").

After receiving word of the horrific treatment of Pvt. Handman at Ft. Benning, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation immediately sprung into action, contacting U.S. Army and DoD officials, retaining a nationally-recognized law firm, and demanding instant and drastic measures to protect Handman from further attacks, and to insist that those who perpetrated these crimes were punished.


Dear Mr. Weinstein,

I am writing today to inform you of the wonderful news that my son, Michael, has been officially discharged from the United States Army. Further, he has just received a fully honorable medical discharge.

Although I am very joyous.....bitter sweet emotions still come to mind. I will NEVER be able to thank you and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) enough for the relentless humanitarian help we have received! I am convinced that my son would still be in a terrible military purgatory had we not been so fortunate to find you and The Military Religious Freedom Foundation. MRFF's tireless 24/7 persistence finally led directly to this just outcome. No other organization even so much as gave us the time of day despite our best efforts to reach out for help in our time of desperate need.

Click here to read the rest of Randi Handman's letter and
see featured media coverage of Pvt. Handman's ordeal


December 21, 2008

Hi Mikey,

I am a devout, practicing, sunni Muslim American. I embrace the
teachings of Islam as established in the Hanafi mathab (school). Just
so you know, the Qur'an and Sunnah of Muhammad (pbuh) does not
classify Jews, Christians, or Sabaians (a small sect of monotheists
from some parts of the middle east) as unbelievers. The term "Ahl Al
Kitab", or "People of the Book", is used to describe believers of God
Almighty, His Prophets, His Angels, and His fair judgment after death.
There are a minority of Muslims who consider all those who do not
accept the terms of the Shahada (testament of faith) as unbelievers,
but they are not common place among the Muslim population*. These are
usually the same folks who often pronounce Muslims of other sects as
unbelievers, which is a behavior that is strongly condemned by the
Sunnah and moderate (and even many conservative) "Sheikhs" (shuyuk in Arabic) alike.

Read more..


December 29, 2008

Dear MRFF,

Thank you and keep pushing. God works in mysterious ways and you hasten the day when..

[name withheld]


December 30, 2008

Attention MRFF,

You need to reread the Constitution, the Federalist papers, the Jefferson letters, any readings by our founders to stop saying there is a wall of separation between church and state.

The first amendment gives us all the right to "free expression thereof"...Thomas Jefferson wrote in a personal letter about a "separation", but not of expressions of faith, only that the government could not establish a state religion, not that it couldn't expressions of faith in a supreme being (read ANYTHING from the founding fathers).
Expressions of faith, sharing of faith, offering the hopes of faith are well within the rights of free expression in personal and public life.

If you do not share the tenants of a faith, or do not like someone else, or an organization, offering the hopes of religion, that is your right...your animosity to destroy our American rights of "free expression"...starting with the declaration of Independence, to out motto, oaths etc...well, you just have to be tolerant of our constitutional right.

I am a Daughter of the American Revolution, a Mayflower descendant and a second generation Polish immigrant, my father, uncles, grandfather fought in WW1, WW2, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, I am married to a person of Native American descent, who served Vietnam era, my son is on his second Iraq deployment.

You need to get a grip on yourselves and develop tolerance..

[name withheld]

Click here to read MRFF Colorado Springs
Chapter President Richard Baker's response

Click here to read a MRFF's supporter's response


December 30, 2008

Attention MRFF,

You guys can go screw yourself. I am glad that the military is pro-Christian. There is no "Constitutionally mandated wall of separation of church and state." That was a proclamation from an extremely liberal supreme court. Why don't you jerks just leave the military alone. I was in the military for nine years and loved the fact that people prayed. Hey, if they didn't want to then they didn't have to. So what if they are ostracized...sucks to be them. You guys are unAmerican pigs and I could care less if you served in the Air Force. Up yours!!!

Click here to read MRFF Colorado Springs
Chapter President Richard Baker's response


December 30, 2008

Dear MRFF,

Why is it completely unsurprising that your organization is led by a bunch of loser mock-dogs? FYI - fucking a mock-dog makes you a mock-dog.

Hope & Change

[withheld]

Click here to read an email exchange with
this detractor and responses to their emails


December 30, 2008

Dear MRFF,

I read about the case that you are involved in on FoxNews.com, and wanted to help out with a small piece of information. It's not just the Army that has the problem with pushing Christianity on it's members, the Marine Corps does it too. Case in point; if a Marine (at least here on [withheld]) is going to get married that Marine must attend "Marriage Enrichment Counseling" either before or right after the marriage. If the name "Marriage Enrichment Counseling" doesn't give it away it's organized, operated, and initiated by the Chaplains. As a not religious person myself, I know that I and some others find it highly bias and disrespectful to my beliefs that if I was to get married, I would have to listen to the rhetoric of their chaplains.

[name withheld]


December 31, 2008

Dear Friends at MRFF;


I have been getting your newsletter for sometime now and find the issues that you deal with very important.

I am a Pagan (Celtic Wicca) so I find my Consitutional Right of Freedom of Religion VERY important and believe strongly that this freedom should extend to the members of the military no matter what their religious belief system.

In one of the Pagan Newsletters that I subscribe to I saw the following article and wanted to bring it to your attention. I don't know any of the parties involved personally nor do I have contact information for them but I did want to make you aware of this if you were not already.

Thank you for your time.

Best,

[name withheld]


JFREJ Logo
Jews For Racial
& Economic Justice

12th Annual Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer
Risk-Taker Awards

Honors Mikey Weinstein
New York City - November 20th, 2008

This year JFREJ honored Ann Cook, Deborah Meier,
Mikey Weinstein & Families for Freedom

CLICK HERE TO SEE PROGRAM OF THIS EVENT

Click above image to watch this 16 minute video
of Mikey receiving this honor

Event Photo 1 Event Photo 2
Mikey with Dara Silverman Executive Director for JFREJ
Mikey with Former White House colleague Sam Fairchild (left) and Burt Weinstein (right)
Event Photo 3 Event Photo 4

Mikey with Constantine's Sword Oscar nominated director
Oren Jacoby

Mikey on stage speaking at the 12th Annual Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer Risk-Taker Awards

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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.

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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.

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Message From
Mikey Weinstein
MRFF President


Mikey Weinstein

Greetings MRFF supporters!

It is hard to believe that we are beginning our 5th calendar year in existence. As I look back over the years, it is amazing to me to see how much we've accomplished, and also how much more work there is to do.

We are now widely recognized by the DoD and in the media as the authority on any religious intolerance issue facing our honorable Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen. More importantly, these servicemen and servicewomen are now very aware of us as a valuable resource that will act aggresively to defend them when their chains of command let them down.

I am supremely confident that 2009 will be our most significant year yet, with more clients than ever, waves of big news and the progression of our landmark Federal court case. Thank you, as always, for your unyielding support.

Your Eternal Ally,
Mikey


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development@militaryreligiousfreedom.org

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