Saving Our Troops
Early this month, Eric Horner, a Christian country-western singer, was preparing for a concert in North Carolina’s Outer Banks when he received a phone call from the United States military. President George W. Bush had just announced that he would deliver a speech to graduating Army recruits at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, in three days; the military wanted to know if Horner could play the gig.
Though Horner had an obligation to perform elsewhere a few hours later, a member of his church, determined that he meet the president, paid $6,000 to fly him to South Carolina on a charter jet. He sang a 90-minute set of hits from his Motivation CD, which includes songs such as “God Bless My Soldier Too” and “God Bless the USA.” Afterward, says Horner, he, his wife, and the couple who chartered the plane were the only non-officers allowed to meet with the president. The singer, whose religion-infused performances have previously been part of boot camps at Fort Jackson, the largest Army basic-training base, thinks the general there most likely “pulled some strings.”
The military has expressed rules against religious coercion, rooted in the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Yet Horner, whose stated goal is to “introduce the lost to Christ. . .in every worship service or concert presentation we do,” has been lauded by top military commanders such as General David Petraeus and paid to perform at military events attended by thousands of troops. (Some officers dub the shows “combat multipliers” for their ability to boost morale, Horner says.) Horner insists that these shows have been secular in nature, but photographs, Internet message-board postings, and archived pages of the Eric Horner Ministries website indicate otherwise.
Many of his songs, such as, “United We’ll Stand When Together We Kneel,” espouse a militant brand of fundamentalist Christianity that has rapidly been adopted by the military since 9/11. “We no longer have a Pentagon; it has become a Pentecostalgon,” says Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which is suing the military over what the organization deems the force-feeding of religion. “Our Department of Defense has become a contagion of unconstitutional, fundamentalist Christian fascism,” he says.
Horner generally wears a frizzy mullet, a sculpted red moustache, and a suit jacket over a T-shirt. He started out as a touring musician, and for the better part of a decade played guitar for the country star Lee Greenwood. But, according to his website, “God wouldn’t leave him alone.” Convinced that the lord wished him to minister with his music, in 2003 he recorded a gospel album called Prayer Warrior, which included a new rendition of his radio hit, “We Will Stand,” a defiant, post-9/11 paean.
Later that year, the president of the USO, Edward A. Powell Jr., invited Horner to perform at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C. As wounded troops were rolled on beds and wheelchairs into an open courtyard, Horner grew nervous about how they would receive some of the Prayer Warrior songs. In one track he sings that “Jesus came into this world to die for me and you” and that “those who will not hear his word” will be left behind while the chosen will ascend to heaven. “In D.C., you have to really be careful or you'll get shown the door if you start preaching,” Horner later wrote in a letter published on a fan site. But, he added, “It was totally cool here. The Colonel never flinched when I started talking about the Lord and singing songs from the Prayer Warrior c.d. The troops reacted more to the message music than anything else.”
It’s no surprise that Horner takes a dim view of the separation of church and state. “It’s a shame to me that all these rules are in place, that there are places where you just can’t talk very much about God without getting somebody in trouble,” he told me. Still, outside of chapel performances, Horner claims to limit the music performed at military shows—such as at Fort Jackson, Fort Benning, and Fort Gordon in Georgia—to more secular fare. “I’ve done my job well if I never mention God’s name in one of those motivation concerts,” he says.
But sometimes he can’t resist. On September 29, Horner delved into his religious repertoire during a POW/MIA commemoration service attended by 5,000 troops at Fort Benning. The day after the show, a posting by Horner’s wife listed among the songs Horner played the gospel track “Press On,” in which Horner exhorts troops to “press on in the name of Jesus.” Though Horner claimed on a listserv that attendance at the event was mandatory, Fort Benning spokesperson Elsie Jackson told me that it was strictly optional. She declined to say whether troops were notified in advance of its Christian content or whether playing “Press On” in the context of a POW/MIA commemoration was appropriate.
“It’s not so much that what Horner is doing is wrong,” Rutgers military law professor Beth Hillman said when I described his various events, “but if the military leadership is signed up only behind him [and not representatives of other religions], then it certainly creates the impression that they are endorsing a religion, and it’s that endorsement that is really the problem.” Other legal scholars call Horner’s performances straightforward violations of the First Amendment. “You cannot use the military as religious experience and a religious environment,” said American University law professor Eugene Fidell, who coauthored a textbook on military law with Hillman. “[Religion] is there to meet people’s pastoral needs, period. And not to infuse the entire base and places other than the chapel with a religious aura.” He added, “I think somebody should be chewed out for it.”
It’s hard to tell how many other “secular” Horner concerts have included religious songs, but evidence suggests that he has difficulty drawing a firm line. A promotional video shows him playing before a crowd of troops, flanked by an enlargement of his 2006 For God and Country album cover. Photos show concert booths selling Bibles and “United We’ll Stand When Together We Kneel” T-shirts, which feature a cross superimposed over an American flag. “We have the opportunity to encourage and share the Gospel with about 10,000 troops at one time with this one,” he told the Paducah Sun last year before a concert in Fort Jackson. In an April 2007 interview with a Christian website, he said, “We go in as a patriotic concert most of the time, but we are allowed by song to share our faith with them.”
Horner has found military training bases to be fertile grounds for soul saving. “The enemy is raging on, we’re under full attack / But we have the power in Jesus’ name to bring our country back,” he sings on his For God and Country CD. There’s little doubt that the message resonates. “What an emotional morning,” Horner’s wife wrote on GoArmyParents.com after he held a chapel service at Fort Benning following the POW/MIA show. “We had a lot of tears and I am pleased to tell you that we had 37 salvations this morning!”
Despite Horner’s evangelism—or because of it—he has received endorsements from a star-studded cast of military officers. After General Petraeus was appointed commander of U.S. military forces in Iraq, he sent Horner a letter of appreciation; it now appears on Horner’s website next to a photo of the general in uniform. On the same web page Colonel Tomas Hayden writes, “I agree with your assessment on how to impact these soldiers.” Colonel Christopher Fulton adds, “The rest of America needs to hear your message—it would do them good!” And Colonel Lori Sussman calls Horner’s work an exemplar of “our highest professional and patriotic traditions.”
Military law prohibits soldiers (even generals) from endorsing political or religious organizations while in uniform, and Fidell, who sits on the board of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said Petraeus should “ask that they take the photograph down, because it looks like an endorsement.” SPC Charles Espie, spokesman for the Multi-National Force-Iraq, which Petraeus leads, declined to comment on whether the use of the photograph by Horner was appropriate.
A stamp of approval for a militant Christian group by the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq will only fuel the assumptions of many people in the Islamic world that the United States is involved in a crusade, Mikey Weinstein says. Weinstein, who served as White House counsel to President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, has savaged Bush for describing the war in Iraq just that way and for failing to censure generals such as Jerry Boykin, who in 2002 told a congregation of Baptists in Oklahoma that America’s enemies “will only be defeated if we come against them in the name of Jesus.”
Weinstein estimates that 30 percent of military personnel now ascribe to fundamentalist, dominionist Christianity, up from almost none in the 1980s. Since he founded the Military Religious Freedom Foundation in 2005, he has received more than 6,000 calls from military personnel whom he describes as “spiritual rape victims” of evangelicals. The military has mostly ignored their complaints of harassment and discrimination, he says, and he doubts it will take significant action to reign in Horner and other evangelicals unless forced to by a lawsuit, such as the one his foundation filed in September against Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. In fact, Espie, the Iraq Coalition spokesman, didn’t see any problem with Horner’s “United We Stand When Together We Kneel” track. “Is there something extreme or controversial with this guy Horner?” he asked. “I am just seeing an evangelical preacher that is really into ‘supporting the troops.’”
Josh Harkinson is a reporter for Mother Jones.
|POSTED BY ERIC HORNER|
I was told when I was a young man to never argue with a fool because some people wouldn't be able to tell the difference. With that being said, I won't argue with Mr Harkinson about our work with the military. I will however take issue with the pack of lies he told about me. I honestly had never heard of Mother Jones before now. I received a cal from Mr Harkinson last week telling me that he was a reporter for Mother Jones and that they were doing a story on artists who performed motivational concerts for our troops. That was his first lie. He made it sound like a human interest story and since I had no idea what kind of left wing garbage Mother Jones published, I thought, what's the harm in talking to him. My mistake. He was very warm and friendly on the phone telling me how much he liked my music and then he proceeded to ask exactly which songs I performed for the troops. It was there the warning light went off. I knew he was fishing. Even after I told him HONESTLY which songs I sang for the soldiers, he decided to make up his own song list by going through my web-site and listening to the music. He mentioned that I sang a song called "Press On" at a POW service at FT Benning that includes the line "press on in the name of Jesus". That is a total lie. It never happened. I wrote that song to encourage pastors years ago not for use on military bases. I do however have another motivational song called "Press On" that I sing for the troops but it's a far cry from the other. I wrote them both so I took a writers privilege and used the same title. By the way, I didn't do that one at FT Benning either. Do your homework a little better Mr Harkinson. It looks bad on you to report lies. He seemed particularly interested in a song called "United We'll Stand When Together We Kneel" and asked if I did that song for the soldiers. I responded that we do not. We use that song in churches across America. I suppose that wasn't good enough because he chose to focus on that song as if I were doing it for the troops, even quoting some of the lines from it. He also mentioned the songs "God Bless My Soldier Too" and "God Bless the USA". Both songs are along the same lines. I pity the person who tries to take God Bless the USA away from the US Military. They see it as almost a second national anthem. It's a song of hope and comfort for them whether they are people of faith or not. I don't apologize for either of those songs as neither one consists of preaching or imposing my beliefs on the soldiers. Speaking of my beliefs, let me make sure I'm crystal clear about that. Am I a Christian- you betcha! Am I a musical minister- yes Do I love and support our troops-110 percent. Do I in any way force my views on a command audience of young soldiers- NO WAY! I'm there to motivate and encourage them period. Do I share my faith in any way- Yes but only within the Chapel walls at protestant chapel services. The last time I checked, that was still legal. I told Mr Harkinson that but he must have had his hearing aid turned down during that part of the interview. Mr Harkinson also alluded to the fact that the powers that be were allowing me to "get away with it". Are you kiddin me??? They don't and they wouldn't. They trust me and know that I won't step over the line. Any commander who has worked with me will back me up on that 100 percent. They'd have to be crazy in this left wing day and age to allow me to do that. It would cost them too much. One thing Josh said that really bothers me, is that we had Bibles for sale on our table. That's a huge lie!! I would never`sell a Bible to a soldier. I will give one to them free of charge but only if they want it. I don't mention it from the stage. They can simply pick one up if they so choose to. Any other product on our table is deeply discounted with only enough left over in the purchase price to replace the item in stock. To say I'm disappointed in Mr Harkinson would be an understatement. It must have been a really slow news week to for him to come after a non-celebrity like me. I hardly consider ,myself the "darling of the military". I simply want to give something back to those who give so much for me. Their sacrifice means the world to me and I want then to know it. Try using your writing abilities to report something good Mr Harkinson. You'd be amazed at how good it is for the soul..... that is if you have one.
|POSTED BY DEBBY HORNER|
I am the wife of the man that Josh Harkinson has chosen to slander and lie about. Josh called and spoke to Eric under false pretenses - lied about his intentions as well as many things in this article. Not ONCE in this entire article did he mention WHY my husband and I support our troops. We have traveled to MANY military bases all over the United States - given concerts for Veteran's functions and memorial services. At NO time in those concerts has Eric crossed the line over the rules of separation of church and state. We believe that you can lead by example and you don't have to hit people over the head with a Bible to show them Jesus. We will always do everything we can to support our military and let them know that we love them. I don't believe there is a law that states that a Christian is not allowed to do a motivational concert and support American troops. I am the widow of a US Marine that died for this country. My former husband was killed in a terrorist bombing in Beirut, Lebanon - the MAIN reason why Eric is so passionate about supporting our military. Josh knew this fact since he spent a great deal of time searching our website as well as the internet and Eric told him as well - funny how that fact slipped his mind. I spent 18 years as the wife of a Marine - I raised my former husband's child without him by my side - and I am PROUD of Eric Horner for all that he does DAILY to show our Troops and Veterans that he supports them 110% - you could take lessons from him Josh. We do concerts in 2 venues on the military bases - one being the Base Chapel and the other through MWR. When we are in the Chapel - we are free to share our faith and music with the soldiers. When we do the concerts for MWR - we use ONLY the Motivational music to encourage and support these soldiers that are going to be defending our freedom and NO WHERE in that music is the word Jesus - NO WHERE. You WERE told this Josh. We know where the line is and we don't cross it - we would be stupid to do that. It would accomplish nothing for us and get the kind people that work with MWR in trouble as well as close the door for us to even be there. We do not nor have we EVER performed the song "United We'll Stand When Together We Kneel" or "Press On" (which is a song for Pastors - not soldiers) in a motivational concert - they are not about the military. We do have a song for the soldiers called "Press On" but it is a song about their military career - and is a rocking song - certainly not a "religious" song and never once mentions the name of our Savior - Jesus Christ. Get your facts straight Josh. If you have a problem with a Christian Artist (not a Christian country-western singer Josh) supporting our Military - then you also need to have a problem with the Country singers, Rock singers, Rap singers, moms, dads, brothers, sisters - all Americans too. We as Christians have as much right to visit our troops and encourage, support and motivate them as any other Recording Artist does. At least they are all allowed to attend our concerts and enjoy pizza & soft drinks totally free of charge instead of paying $35 for a ticket. And we have never sold a Bible to the first soldier. We have free Bibles available if anyone would like to pick one up - not one word is mentioned about it either. Josh you need to get your facts straight and print the truth unless you intend on being a writer for The National Enquirer. We will pray for you. Debby Horner
|POSTED BY CHRIS RODDA, SENIOR RESEARCH DIRECTOR - MRFF|
As Senior Research Director for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), I feel that I must respond to the accusations leveled against Mr. Harkinson by Mr. and Mrs. Horner. While the Horners' assertions may sound pretty convincing at first glance, and without the rigor of applied scrutiny, the MRFF research team has easily been able to poke so many holes in their statements that no reasonable person could possibly believe them. According to Mr. Horner: "Even after I told him HONESTLY which songs I sang for the soldiers, he decided to make up his own song list by going through my web-site and listening to the music. He mentioned that I sang a song called "Press On" at a POW service at FT Benning that includes the line "press on in the name of Jesus". That is a total lie. It never happened. I wrote that song to encourage pastors years ago not for use on military bases. I do however have another motivational song called "Press On" that I sing for the troops but it's a far cry from the other. I wrote them both so I took a writers privilege and used the same title. By the way, I didn't do that one at FT Benning either." Maybe Mr. and Mrs. Horner should have compared notes before posting their accusations. It was actually Mrs. Horner, in a post on the GoArmyParents.com message board, who said that a song called "Press On" was among the songs performed at Fort Benning. So, even if Mr. Horner really does have a second song with this same title, his statement above that "I didn't do that one at FT Benning either" is not true. Mrs. Horner, writing on Sun Sep 30, 2007, the day after the Fort Benning concert, described the event in detail, listing eleven songs that her husband played. According to Mrs. Horner's post: "The [sic] another Sgt Major came up and spoke about his tour - both of these soldiers had been wounded - and shared their experiences with the new soldiers. Eric came back after this speaker and sang: 1. PRESS ON 2. SOLDIER 3. WATCH OVER THOSE WHO ARE WATCHING OVER ME" That last song listed by Mrs. Horner, "Watch Over Those Who Are Watching Over Me," isn't exactly the secular, motivational type song that Mr. Horner claims to restrict his military performances to either. In fact, on the Eric Horner Ministries website, it is subtitled "A prayer for our military." The song begins: "Lord, you know the names Each and every face The ones who for my freedom Are standing in harm's way I lift them now to you Hold them in your loving hands Send angels to protect them Until you bring them home again..." Both Mr. and Mrs. Horner seem pretty insistent that it is only at their chapel performances that they dare to get religious. Mr. Horner: "Do I in any way force my views on a command audience of young soldiers- NO WAY! I'm there to motivate and encourage them period. Do I share my faith in any way- Yes but only within the Chapel walls at protestant chapel services." Mrs. Horner: "We do concerts in 2 venues on the military bases - one being the Base Chapel and the other through MWR. When we are in the Chapel - we are free to share our faith and music with the soldiers. When we do the concerts for MWR - we use ONLY the Motivational music to encourage and support these soldiers.... So, how does Mr. Horner explain his statement in that Paducah Sun article about the concert at Fort Jackson? Are we to take it that what he meant by "We have the opportunity to encourage and share the gospel with about 10,000 troops at one time with this one" was that he expected 10,000 troops at the Protestant chapel service at Fort Jackson? After all, this is the only place where he claims to share his faith in any way with the troops. So, he couldn't possibly have meant he was going to "share the gospel" at the concert, right? Does he really expect anyone to buy this? And what, exactly, did Mr. Horner mean when he said this in an April 2007 interview with OneNewsNow.com reporter: "They're hungry. They really are. They're hungry for the gospel. They're looking for answers. So many of the kids in the service -- some of them have come from very tough backgrounds, and some of them have never set foot inside a church before. And we get the opportunity to do -- we go in as a patriotic concert most of the time, but we are allowed by song to share our faith with them." Again, Mr. Horner is clearly talking about the concerts, and not the chapel services. Most amazing of all, however, are the reports of soldiers suddenly deciding to give church another try after attending nothing but one of Mr. Horner's "motivational" concerts. As Mrs. Horner explains it, "We believe that you can lead by example and you don't have to hit people over the head with a Bible to show them Jesus." Well, apparently, Mr. Horner not only doesn't have to hit them over the head with a Bible to show them Jesus, he doesn't even have to sing a single religious song or share his faith "in any way." All he has to do is sing a few songs about drill sergeants and basic training and suddenly, for some completely unrelated reason, people in the audience decide they want to go to church! The Horner's include an example of this truly remarkable reaction in their "Ministry to the Military" promotional video. In that video, among the many concert photographs and endorsements from commanders, enlisted soldiers, and family members, is the following, from the wife of a soldier at Fort Sill. "I wanted to thank you for your wonderful ministries and tell you that you have touched a life that I have been praying for. My husband, age 35, Pvt. Rooney, is a new member of the military, Army National Guard, and is at Basic Training at Fort Sill. He sent me a letter the night of your concert just overwhelmed with your music and how good it made him feel. In his letter he stated that I had to go to your website and buy some of you CD's for him when he gets home. We have been married for 12 1/2 years and I have been praying for a long time that he would start going to church with me and become active in the church I attend in Charlotte, North Carolina. He's told me that now he wants to give church another try. God Bless you and thank you. May your ministries touch many many more lives." Wow! This soldier's wife, in 12 1/2 years of marriage, couldn't get her husband to go to church, but Mr. Horner's concert, without a bit of religious music or evangelizing, did the trick! Pretty hard to believe, isn't it? In the case of this concert at Fort Sill, there is no question that the installation's Moral, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) department was aware that this was going to be a religious event. The following is from Fort Sill's "Townhall Meeting" website. This is a site where various departments at Fort Sill answer questions submitted by people on the base. In this Q & A forum, someone from the MWR department, addressing a complaint about too many country concerts, called the upcoming Horner concert a "Christian concert." "Fort Sill began hosting the Army concert series in 1994. Market research has shown that country music fares extremely well in southwest Oklahoma. Although our Army Concert Tour features country artists, it is our largest fundraiser in support of MWR programs. However, we are looking at hosting a concert in the early fall that will feature other performers, in fact, we are hosting a Christian concert on 22 April with Eric Horner. ..." Yet, when this concert was announced by the MWR department, and not in answer to a complaint about too many country concerts, Mr. Horner was not billed as a Christian performer, but a "Country Recording Artist," and the concert was described as "patriotic." Mr. Horner, addressing the issue of concern to MRFF -- that military commanders are allowing the evangelizing of our troops at mandatory events -- denies that this is happening. "I told Mr Harkinson that but he must have had his hearing aid turned down during that part of the interview. Mr Harkinson also alluded to the fact that the powers that be were allowing me to "get away with it". Are you kiddin me??? They don't and they wouldn't. They trust me and know that I won't step over the line. Any commander who has worked with me will back me up on that 100 percent. They'd have to be crazy in this left wing day and age to allow me to do that." Well, based on that assessment, officers like the colonel described by Mr. Horner in his own description of his June 2003 performance at Walter Reed Army Medical Center are apparently "crazy." "I sang for about 45 minutes performing some of the Patriotic Music from my album and telling them the stories behind the songs. I also did a few funny things and got a few grins and chuckles. The thing they loved most was the Gospel music. I was a little worried about what kind of reaction I would get to that music. In D.C., you have to really be careful or you'll get shown the door if you start preaching. It was totally cool here. The Colonel never flinched when I started talking about the Lord and singing songs from the Prayer Warrior c.d." Certainly sounds like that colonel did, in fact, let Mr. Horner "get away with it," doesn't it? The problem with Mr. Horner's concerts, as far as MRFF is concerned, isn't one of Christian artists performing for our military. There is nothing wrong with this -- as long as these events are sponsored by the Chaplain's office, clearly promoted as religious events, and attendance is not mandatory or in any way coerced. This, however, is not the case with Mr. Horner's concerts, which are typically sponsored by the installation's MWR department; are promoted as "patriotic" concerts; and are, in some cases, mandatory.
The Horner's themselves have stated on the GoArmyParents.com message board that the Ft. Benning concert was mandatory, posting the following on the day of the concert: "We are getting ready to pull into Ft. Benning in a few minutes. We have a couple of hours to get everything set up before the POW/MIA concert service this evening. If your soldier is at Ft. Benning - he WILL be at this event. It is mandatory [sic] for them to attend. ..." Other sources back this up, such as the following, from a message posted by a mother who got it from a letter written by a basic trainee who was there: "This past sat. night was the POW Concert at Benning with Eric Horner! Then the 2 services Sunday morning at Soldier's Chapel. I have no idea if Zach went to Chapel or not, but the Concert was mandatory and he did say he was going to both anyways." Regarding Mrs. Horner's comments about the song "United We'll Stand When Together We Kneel," there is no evidence that Mr. Horner has performed this particular song at his military concerts. The problem here is the T-shirts based on this song, which are displayed and sold at military concerts. On the front of the shirt is a large cross with an American flag in it, and the words "United We'll Stand When Together We Kneel." On the back is a passage from 2 Chronicles 7:14, "If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and forgive their sin and heal their land." These T-shirts are not only displayed at the concerts, at "Bible Ministry to the Troops" booths which, judging by the photos, would be hard for the soldiers to avoid, but are worn by Eric Horner Ministries members at the concerts. Regarding the distribution of Bibles -- the Horner's are correct there. The Bibles, (NIV Military Softcover New Testaments with Psalms & Proverbs in a desert camouflage cover), are, in fact, given away for free. The Bible Ministry booth appears from photos to be set up at all concerts with the free New Testaments to the left, CDs and books for sale in the middle, and the "United We'll Stand When Together We Kneel" T-shirts to the right. Nobody at MRFF questions the patriotism of Christian artists like Mr. Horner, or the sincerity of the Mr. and Mrs. Horner's desire to support our troops, particularly given the ultimate sacrifice made by Mrs. Horner's first husband while serving our country. As already mentioned, MRFF's primary concerns with Mr. Horner's performances have to do with the military commanders who are allowing the deceptive promotion of, and mandatory attendance at, these events. These concerts are but one example of the much larger, military-wide problem that MRFF Founder and President Mikey Weinstein describes as "a pernicious and pervasive pattern and practice" of constitutional violations. There is also, of course, the endorsements by active duty military officers, including General Petraeus, in the Eric Horner Ministries promotional video and on the ministry's website. As is clear from long-standing military regulations, and confirmed by the Pentagon Inspector General's report on the Christian Embassy video this summer, it is illegal for active duty military personnel to endorse any "non-federal entity," religious or not, while in uniform. This regulation is clearly being violated here. According to Mikey Weinstein, "This is not a political spectrum left or right issue. It is a constitutional right and wrong issue." Weinstein, an Air Force Academy honor graduate and former JAG, is a registered Republican who served as counsel in the Reagan White House, and is former general counsel to Texas billionaire and two-time presidential candidate Ross Perot. Clearly Mr. Weinstein is no "leftist." This is also not a Christian vs. non-Christian issue. Of the over 6,000 complaints received by MRFF since its founding, 96% have been from active and retired military personnel who are Christians. Chris Rodda Senior Research Director, Military Religious Freedom Foundation