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Highly-decorated U.S. Army
Chaplain (ret.), Reverend
Dr. Jonathan J. Etterbeek,
Joins MRFF Advisory Board

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is elated and honored to announce our latest addition to our prestigious Advisory Board, retired (Dec. 31, 2012) U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel and Reverend Dr. Jonathan J. Etterbeek.

An Excerpt from a Statement by
Lt. Col. (USA-ret.) Etterbeek:

There is a line between conversion and manipulation that religion, in all its forms, has crossed over many times and back again. Conversion liberates the soul; manipulation enslaves the mind. Therefore, spiritual wisdom practices grace instead of preaching guilt. God's human instruments of grace can mitigate manipulation by individually searching for truth in love rather than participating in organized religious gatherings shrouded in deception and deceit.

The shocking paranoia of persecution by Christian fundamentalist parachurch groups sadly renders "their cause" totally devoid of rational thought and even the most basic pastoral care and humanitarianism. I wholeheartedly salute the courageous efforts of active and retired U.S. military personnel who bravely stand up for religious freedom in the face of personal slander and oppressive persecution.

My friend Mikey Weinstein and his Military Religious Freedom Foundation have set the example of those who embody the integrity and personal courage in leading this fight. We as Americans must stand up for the religious liberty of an all too vulnerable armed forces population which is required or unduly pressured to attend Command-sponsored religious events specifically designed and engineered to convert them. If we do not, then this unconstitutional cancer will only continue to persist and strengthen as it systemically permeates the Armed Forces as it is currently doing. This battle is of vital and strategic importance to our nation's national security. If we do not win this fight, the two options are both toxic; either involuntary spiritual servitude or manipulated religious serfdom.

A United States military infused by either odious alternative is of critical danger to not only America but the entire world as well.

Click here to read full statement

Rev. Dr. Etterbeek's Biography:

As a highly-decorated Army chaplain wounded in Iraq, Lt. Col. (USA-ret.) Etterbeek received the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal, the National Defense Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Southwest Asia Service Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal. Additionally, he has earned the the Combat Action Badge, the Parachutist Badge, the Air Assault Badge, and the German Army Proficiency Badge (Gold).

His military education includes the Chaplain Officer Basic Course, the Chaplain Career Course, the Combined Arms Staff Services School, the U.S. Army War College Defense Strategy Course, the Air Assault School, Airborne School, and the United States Army Command and General Staff College.

Prior to entering Active Duty as a military chaplain, he served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church in West New York, New Jersey, where he served as a Minister of Word and Sacrament from 1991 to 1994 before entering the active duty military as an Army chaplain. The Reformed Church in America endorsed Etterbeek for his military chaplaincy.

Etterbeek attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point from 1982-1984 and then transferred to Hope College, a liberal arts college affiliated with the Reformed Church in America, where he graduated in 1986. While attending Hope College, he also served in the U.S. Army Reserve and R.O.T.C. at Western Michigan University where he was commissioned in 1986. Etterbeek graduated from Western Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity degree and was ordained in 1991. Later on, Etterbeek graduated with honors from Houston Graduate School of Theology with a Doctor of Ministry degree.

Lt. Col. Etterbeek’s first assignment was as the battalion chaplain for 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment at Fort Stewart, Georgia, from 1994 to 1997, during which time he deployed twice to Kuwait, including for Operation Intrinsic Action. He was then assigned as the battalion chaplain for 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment at Fort Lewis, Wash., from 1997 to 1999, where he deployed to Thailand in support of Operation Cobra Gold. From 1999 to 2001,he served as the battalion chaplain for 1st Battalion, 214th Aviation Regiment in Heidelberg, Germany, where he supported operations in Bosnia, Kosovo and Turkey. He then served as the facility chaplain for the U.S. Army Confinement Facility in Mannheim, Germany that served all branches of the armed forces before beginning his service with the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii.

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