MRFF's Inbox

March 4, 2009

To: Mikey Weinstein and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation

I grew up in a practicing Christian household but gradually realized I was non-religious during my early adulthood. Accepting my commission as an officer in the United States Air Force, I was sure that being a female in a male-dominated profession would prove my greatest challenge. Happily, I have discovered that my gender has not created the slightest obstacle to the camaraderie experienced between me and my fellow "brothers at arms". And yet, my particular religious outlook has been the catalyst for much annoyance, frustration, and even humiliation.

From my early AF days, I noticed a pattern of favoritism towards certain religious inclinations. During pre-commissioning training, the enticements to attend church services included the forbidden nectar coffee as well as the opportunity to "relax" and "be yourself". Nobody forces you to brace a wall or scream out the seven basic responses at church. When I attempted to voice my opinion that this seemed unfair, there were those who turned on me for making so-called anti-Christian remarks.

As a new officer at my first assignment, an amiable conversations about plans for the upcoming holiday season between me and my young Airmen swiftly turned into a humiliating attempt to reassert myself when a ranking officer heard me mention that I did not celebrate Christmas. In barely controlled rage she informed me I was "Going to hell" if I did not acknowledge Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Stripped of respect in their eyes not because of my religious views but rather for my public dressing-down by a fellow officer, I was forced to regain my troop's esteem and trust.

Years later, another ranking officer deemed it appropriate to make my section his pulpit for an anti-Islamic tirade. Free speech and the freedom of expression, cherished by all of us Americans, only go so far in an environment where discipline and deference inhibit the ability to assert oneself in the presence of those who command. Would this officer again label Islam a "religion of hate" if he knew that our NCO, sitting not ten feet from him, was Muslim? The answer to that is not nearly as important as the fact that such opinions, carelessly dropped from the lips of the powerful, have no business echoing in the halls of a military claiming neutrality and tolerance in all affairs spiritual or religious.

I can, of course, parrot the familiar complaints of my fellow non-evangelical Christians who must endure the inevitable Protestant prayers at nearly every official function, the endless biblical quotes tacked on to e-mails, and the crosses, posters, and other religious paraphernalia covering the offices of our superiors. Freedom of religion may not mean freedom FROM religion, but it certainly does not mean intimidation through religion.

Which brings me to my anger over the unsolicited e-mail sent around base inviting Airmen to a marriage seminar hosted by the evangelical Focus on the Family. Here the line separating what is commonly referred to as church and state has clearly been crossed, and it is not appreciated. How can this not be construed as an endorsement of a particular brand of faith? I doubt the Chaplaincy would have sent out an invitation to a similar seminar hosted by a Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, or Humanist agency.

In a military and a service striving for greater diversity and improved inter-cultural relations, the bizarre stranglehold of the evangelical Christian community upon this Air Force must be released. That a small faction in this great land can so completely overwhelm those in charge of its most destructive weapons is not only frightening, it is perverse. Thanks to all of you at MRFF for bringing this to light. Keep up the good work, and know that those of us in the field greatly appreciate your efforts!

(name, rank, unit and USAF installation withheld)

Below is the Focus on the Family marriage
seminar email as mentioned above:

*******************************Please pass to your folks--hank

Focus on the Family will sponsor a first ever nationwide marriage seminar
simulcast this Saturday 29 Feb from 0830-1600. Some of the renowned
speakers for this great conference include Dr. Gary Smalley, Dr. John Trent,
Beth Moore, Dr. Del Tackett, Gary Thomas, and special musical guest, Jeremy

The regular registration fee for the simulcast is $69 per couple. The
active duty, guard and reserve military rate is $34.50 per couple. However,
thanks to the Military Missions Network and a corporate donor that wanted to
help strengthen military marriages, we have been given free tickets for over
50 military couples.

In Alabama, the simulcast is being presented in 10 different locations
including Alex City, Andalusia, Arab, Birmingham, Centre, Demopolis,
Gadsden, Montgomery, Tuscaloosa, and Sardis. For specific locations and
schedule, visit
The Montgomery location is the Vaughn Park Church of Christ.

If you have military couples that would like to attend, please ask them to
call the chapel at 953-2109 as soon as possible to get ticket information.
We will give the tickets away until we run out.


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