The Stanford Progressive
The Stanford Progressive is a bi-quarterly political magazine at Stanford University.

An Interview with Mikey Weinstein, Founder of the MRFF

Thursday, March 12, 2009

By Ross Raffin

The Progressive metaphorically sat down with founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, Mikey Weinstein. Mikey Weinstein is a registered Republican who spent three and a half years in the West Wing of the Reagan administration as legal council. He later became first general counsel to two time presidential candidate Ross Perot. Mikey served as a military attorney for ten years and graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in 1977. In 2004, Mikey Weinstein put his sharp tongue and colorful language to use in political activism and formed the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF). The MRFF is dedicated to ensuring that the government adheres to the letter and spirit of the constitution in military matters. Most recently, the MRFF has been investigating the improper and unconstitutional use of military authority for the evangelical proselytizing of fellow soldiers and middle-eastern civilians in conflict areas like Iraq and Afghanistan. The following are excerpts from the interview.

Ross Raffin: Let's dive right in. You have said this isn't a conflict between you and Christianity but instead a conflict with a sect known as Dominionism. What is Dominionism, how is it different from Evangelical Christianity, and, if you had to give a quick summary, what does Dominionism have to do with the Pentagon,
Air Force, and Army?

Mikey Weinstein: Very good question. We have a number evangelicals we represent, and we have a number of evangelicals, some quite prominent, who support us... [T]his is not a Christian/Jewish issue, this is a fundamentalist Dominionist Christian versus the Constitution issue. An evangelical Christian will follow the dictates of what is called the “Great Commission” which is supposed to be one of the last things Jesus is supposed to have said to his apostles which is to go and make disciples of all nations which is codified at Matthew 28:19 and Mark 16:15 in the New Testament. An evangelical will have unbridled desire to proselytize and convert people the same way a fundamentalist Dominionist will. The difference is evangelicals submit to the constraints of the U.S. Constitution as to time place and manner in which they can proselytize, the constitution and federal case law. Dominionist Christians believe they are above the law, and the United States Constitution and federal case law is nothing but a smoking pile of **** compared to their great desire.

Now, do I like their religious philosophy? No, I ******* think it sucks. And that’s perfectly fine; they can think that mine ******* sucks. What I care about is that we have something that represents the first time in homo sapiens history that a nation state created a governing document that did not, not, not, not, not, not, not, not, not, not invoke the name of someone's particular deity and that is the United States Constitution. It is our social contract...I have no trouble with someone believing that I am going to spend the rest of my life, or my family, or the Raffin family, or everyone is going to spend the rest of eternity in unimaginable torment for rejecting the boundless love of Jesus as long as this particular philosophy is not engaging the machinery of the state.

By that I do not mean the OMB or Department of Education or the FDA. I'm talking about where all the sticks and stones are that ******* break our ******* bones and that is the Department of Defense where all the conventional, laser guided, and nuclear weapons are..[W]henever a virulent form of Christianity has engaged the machinery of the state, the war machine, we have not ended up, Ross, with little creeks or little streams, lakes, or ponds. We've ended up with oceans and oceans of blood ...

The irony here in our Foundation is that we just went over 11,200 clients...[and] 96 percent are believers in Jesus Christ... Just 4 percent are Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Wiccan, Native American spirituality, Shinto, atheist, agnostic, pagan...

Ross Raffin: Who do you work with at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation?

On the advisory board [for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation] there are former governors, Nobel peace prize winners, former ambassadors, we've got former generals and we've had admirals and we have luminaries...we have the whole rainbow coalition.

I'm gonna report very sadly to your beautiful liberal Stanford newspaper... [the] constitutionally mandated wall separating church and state, spiritual and temporal, is completely obliterated. It is nothing but smoke and debris as I speak to you today, and in fact since we are talking about Stanford, I'll put it in terms that everyone at Stanford can understand. We're at Tiger Woods, who is of course a Stanford graduate, we are right now as I speak to you today giving you this interview -what is the name of your paper?

RR: The Stanford Progressive.

MW: Right, we are about a two inch putt away from the United Fundamentalist Christian State of America. And it doesn't matter that Obama is president right now. He left [Defense Secretary Robert Gates] in charge, we're suing Gates, and we're in federal district court with a massive federal lawsuit that will go to the Supreme Court.

The theme of our lawsuit is what we call the four Ps. We're going to show the federal judge there is a pervasive and pernicious pattern and practice of unconstitutional ******* rape of religious liberties of our honorable and noble sailors, marines, airmen, and soldiers by basically fundamentalist Dominionist Christian predators that are preying on helpless subordinates...[I]t is very hard if you are a junior religious person or junior officer, if you are even gently evangelized by your military superior, “Get the **** out of my goddamn face, sir or ma'am” is not an option for you.

So we do it for them. We have to be pugnacious. We do two things at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation - and I hope you will use our URL in your article [http://militaryreligiousfreedom.org] - that we try to educate...[but] you really can't get people ever to change their minds by “seeing the light,” Ross. You got to get them to feel the heat, so we bring the heat. We lay down a withering field of fire. We kick ass, take names, and leave ******* sucking chest wounds on this unconstitutional heart of Dominionist Christian darkness. You are too young to remember the speech, but you may remember President Eisenhower in his farewell speech he warned America of the military industrial complex. Ring a bell?

RR: I am familiar with the speech.

MW: What we have today is a fundamentalist Christian para-church military corporate proselytizing complex. And it didn't just start with Bush. It probably goes back to the end of mandatory conscription... end of the draft in ‘72...[B]ut it went on steroids after 9/11 with that moron in the White House. I don't care. Like I said most of our clients are Christian. One of the largest Christian organizations in the world, the California Council of Churches IMPACT, about 7 months ago universally endorsed us...took them a number of months to analyze us. They've also announced they are going to file a friend of the court or amicus brief in our federal lawsuit, and they comprise 5,500 Californian Protestant congregations, 21 Californian Protestant denominations, and millions of Californian protestants. The people that say that the reason my family constantly gets our lives threatened is that we are trying to take somebody’s warm heavenly Jesus teddy bear away, they can suck my **** and **** them.

RR: I like it. So, speaking of organizations, what are the Officer's Christian Fellowship and Campus Crusade?

MW: They are blights on America and a disgusting example of extremist prejudice and bigotry in this country. The Office's Christian Fellowship is a group of officers numbering in multiple thousands. They have chapters on every one of the 737 US military installations…scattered around the world as we garrison the globe, Ross, in 132 countries. Their express purpose, I can't make this **** up; it's right on their website, their purpose is “we want Christian officers exercising biblical leadership to raise up a godly army”..... their 3 specific goals are to (1) to create a “spiritually transformed U.S. Military; (2) with ambassadors for Christ in uniform; (3) empowered by the Holy Spirit. They push their bible studies on their subordinates, and one of their key bible studies expresses its goal as “not to allow the opposition, all of which is spearhead by Satan, to prevent us or thwart us from regaining territory for Jesus Christ in the US military. [On February 2nd, 2009], Nightline ran kind of a silly story on a couple of fundamentalist Christian missionaries... it showed them stopping off and when they were embedded with military units in Afghanistan handing out the New Testaments in Dari which is the local dialect in and around Kandahar. We broke that story seven weeks ago...

I invite your readers - unlike the movie 300, with the Spartans - give me 600. 600 seconds. 10 minutes. Go to the website. Put on your seat belt and see what’s there,

RR: What do you hope to accomplish with these lawsuits?

MW: We know it will go to the Supreme Court. We want the Supreme Court to make it very clear that you do not mix church and state where all the weapons are. We want to make sure we have an injunction in place that not only prevents this from happening so that you violate federal law if you do it but that mandates that there will be the appropriate type of education when a young kid decides to go basic military training with the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps... or as a cadet goes through a military academy or ROTC or officers training school et al...to understand that when you swear an oath to preserve, protect, support, and defend you are doing it for the Constitution not for somebody’s particular weaponized gospel bizarre world view of the New Testament. As I've said before – it’s important to me - when you put the uniform on, there is only one sickle moon, cross, or Star of David. And that is the American flag. There is only one Quran, Torah, or New Testament and that is the Constitution. And there is only one Christianity, Judaism, Islam, or any other official religion: Patriotism. If you don't like that, get the **** out of my military...

The Bill of Rights was not passed in March of 1791 for the convenience of the majority. In fact, it was passed to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority. I love this country, but what's going to kill us is tolerance. Tolerance for intolerance which is why I was disappointed when Obama picked a ****** like Rick Warren, a homophobe, somebody who believes that unless you pass a religious test of some sort, you can't be an atheist and hold public office which by the by not only violates separation of church and state which I know Rick Warren and the other Dominionists view as a myth like Bigfoot and the Lochness Monster, Ross, but let us remember I mentioned that is the key part of the first amendment, the 16 golden words.. but back up 15 months to December of 1789. That’s when the body of the Constitution was passed, and our founding constitutional framers were so assiduously careful not to mix church and state...they stuck in clause three article six: “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States. ”

I did a three and a half hour interview with Dan Rather a little over a year ago ...and the last question he asked...[was] "You know Mikey, you are sometimes criticized for being unpatriotic because you are criticizing the president, you are criticizing the Department of Defense, and our government at a time of war. How do you respond to your critics?" And I told him I don't have to. He goes “what do you mean?” The great historian Howard Zinn did it for me...it was Howard Zinn who said that dissent is the highest form of patriotism, and I go back to the rock star of his day, Benjamin Franklin, when he walked out of the constitutional convention in Philadelphia, he was mobbed by fellow Americans all chanting “Mr. Franklin, Mr. Franklin, Mr. Benjamin Franklin, what type of government have you all bequeathed to us?” and his famous response is “a republic, if you can keep it.” All we’re are trying to do is keep the republic and to make it clear we do not judge your value as an American citizen by the way in which you happen to view theology.


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