Case No. 08-CV-2098-JWL-DJW

March 5, 2008

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) announced this afternoon that it had filed in the Federal District Court for the District of Kansas City, Kansas a comprehensive, new Federal lawsuit against the Defense Department alleging retaliation and reprisal by the United States Army against its co-plaintiff, Specialist 4 Jeremy Hall.

The lawsuit names Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Major Freddy J. Welborn as specific defendants with MRFF and Hall as the plaintiffs. MRFF President and Founder, Mikey Weinstein stated in announcing today's filing of the new litigation, "It is beyond despicable, indeed wholly unlawful, that the United States Army is actively attempting to destroy the professional career of one of its decorated young fighting soldiers, with 2 completed combat tours in Iraq, simply because he had the rare courage to stand up for his Constitutional rights and guarantees of separation of church and state against a superior officer who was forcefully attempting to intimidate him into accepting fundamentalist Christianity."

"Our new Federal lawsuit will show the almost incomprehensible national security risks to America and the world as a result of the destruction of the wall separating Church and State in the United States armed forces. The United States military is actively engaged in a pernicious and pervasive pattern and practice of unconstitutional rape of the precious religious freedoms of our honorable and noble sailors, soldiers, airmen, marines, national guard, reservists and veterans. This evil is a noxious, institutional force-feeding of fundamentalist Christianity by our nation's military command structure in complete defiance of the United States Constitution."

To arrange an electronic or print media interview
with Mikey Weinstein, please contact his personal scheduler
Bekki Miller
(337) 356-8696
bekki.mrff@yahoo.com



Atheist Soldier Says Army Punished Him

John Milburn
March 5, 2008

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) A soldier claimed Wednesday that his promotion was blocked because he had claimed in a lawsuit that the Army was violating his right to be an atheist.

Attorneys for Spc. Jeremy Hall and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation refiled the federal lawsuit Wednesday in Kansas City, Kan., and added a complaint alleging that the blocked promotion was in response to the legal action.

The suit was filed in September but dropped last month so the new allegations could be included. Among the defendants are Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Hall alleges he was denied his constitutional right to hold a meeting to discuss atheism while he was deployed in Iraq with his military police unit. He says in the new complaint that his promotion was blocked after the commander of the 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley sent an e-mail post-wide saying Hall had sued.

Fort Riley spokeswoman Alison Kohler said the post "can't comment on ongoing legal matters" and offered no further statement.

According to the lawsuit, Hall was counseled by his platoon sergeant after being informed that his promotion was blocked. He says the sergeant explained that Hall would be "unable to put aside his personal convictions and pray with his troops" and would have trouble bonding with them if promoted to a leadership position.

Hall responded that religion is not a requirement of leadership, even though the sergeant wondered how he had rights if atheism wasn't a religion. Hall said atheism is protected under the Army's chaplain's manual.

"It shouldn't matter if one is Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist or atheist," said Pedro Irigonegaray, an attorney whose firm filed the lawsuit. "In the military, all are equal and to be considered equal."

Maj. Freddy J. Welborn was named in the lawsuit as the officer who prevented Hall from holding a meeting of atheists and non-Christians. It alleges that Welborn threatened to file military charges against Hall and to block his re-enlistment. Welborn has denied the allegations.

The lawsuit alleges that Gates permits a military culture in which officers are encouraged to pressure soldiers to adopt and espouse fundamentalist Christian beliefs, and in which activities by Christian organizations are sanctioned.

Hall's attorneys say Fort Riley has permitted a culture promoting Christianity and anti-Islamic sentiment, including posters quoting conservative columnist Ann Coulter and sale of a book, "A Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam," at the post exchange.

The Pentagon has said that the military values and respects religious freedoms, but that accommodating religious practices should not interfere with unit cohesion, readiness, standards or discipline.

Mikey Weinstein, president and founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said the lawsuit would show the "almost incomprehensible national security risks to America" posed by the military's pattern of violating the religious freedom of those in uniform.

"It is beyond despicable, indeed wholly unlawful, that the United States Army is actively attempting to destroy the professional career of one of its decorated young fighting soldiers, with two completed combat tours in Iraq, simply because he had the rare courage to stand up for his constitutional rights," Weinstein said in a statement.

Weinstein previously sued the Air Force for acts he said illegally imposed Christianity on its students at the academy. A federal judge threw out that lawsuit in 2006.


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MRFF's Inbox

MRFF Continues to
Get It From Both Sides


MRFF's Latest Detractor
Email Exchange

March 6th, 2008

MRFF has uncovered the origin of these hateful emails.
They are originating from Randall (Randy) C.,
the president of a telecom and IT
headhunting firm in California.


From Randy C. to MRFF

What a bunch of bullshit
If your anti-Christian argument carries so much weight, why don't you sue the United States Congress to remove all mention of the Old and New Testament quotes and images that are embossed on every single federal government building located in Washington, D.C. And you can start with the Supreme Court Building. Goddammit, if it weren't for this Christian nation that saved your ass from Adolf Hitler and Hirohito and Stalin, you would not even have the freedom to worship your atheism. And...you would speaking German if your parents survived Hitlers purge of the
United States. Your freedom and liberty is is a gift from God; not man. If they were a gift from man, you would have no freedom and liberty

God, i cannot believe how ignorant you are!

Christianity rules America. Always has and always will. It was founded by Christians in 1620. In late seventeenth century America was Christian. There were no Jews or Catholics. And yes there were a few agnostics and atheists. But Christians ruled the day because Christian Caucasians founded this nation, signed the Declaration of Independence and signed the Constitution. And don't forget the Christian-based Masons who designed Washington, D.C. and populated all of of the U.S. Government elitist leaders. And every damned politician swears-in on a Bible.

Perhaps you ought to spend more time helping the evil and wicked Muslim bastards convert the USA to Sharia Law. Or perhaps you can sue to to convert our nation to secular/atheist Marxist or Stalinist Law. Is that your preference perhaps? And while you're at it, please put some time into refuting the hundreds of witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. What knuckleheads and fools and cretins you are. Get a life!

Randy


MRFF's President responds

...hey, Randy, I'm Mikey Weinstein, President and Founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation......besides being MASSIVELY historically WRONG with almost everything you just crudely spewed out in that award-winning IDIOT e-mail, you are also a vile, base, disgusting BIGOT of the highest order!!......seriously, you embarrass yourself......your putrescent and pedestrian racism and blatant prejudice do a horrible dishonor to our country's brilliant Constitution and the marvelous diversity of faiths extant in our wonderful country and especially our honorable and noble United States military......."Christianity rules america"??......."the evil and wicked Muslim bastards"??!!.........sir, you can take your place beside the monsters of human history........for you are surely one of them...........SHAME on you!!


Randy C. continues his racist tirade

Oh, and by the way, Mikey, President Lincoln was not the angel you might think he was. He was Americas most famous racist. Since 1837, he wished to return the Negroes to Liberia where they came from and perhaps to Central America and the West Indies. The EP was nothing but a political ploy. And hey, all Caucasian Americans were racists at the time. And they still are! Including you! I mean, would you like it if your daughter asked you if she could marry one?
Moreover, do you prefer to live in black neighborhoods or white neighborhoods?

That's what I thought....

Also, note that every nation on earth is divided by culture and race and creed and religion. The USA is no different. We're just naturally divided internally.

Randy 8-)


A Supporter Shares His Regards

March 7th, 2008

Mr. Weinstein, thank you for what you are doing. Please pass on my warm regards to SPC Hall--I commend him for his bravery.

Ray Howard is not my real name. I am an active duty officer and I am an atheist. I don't want my true beliefs about religion to get out because I am afraid that would damage my career. I don't know of a single Army officer who openly admits to being an atheist. I know of many who are commended for being "a man of faith", "deeply spiritual", etc.

That said, I am growing so sick and tired of being subjected to religion, prayers, etc. as I go about serving my country.

God bless you Mikey Weinstein!!....er.....uh....well....you know what I mean.....Good Luck!!!

Ray


MRFF Receives a Disturbingly
Threatening Message

March 7th, 2008

After receiving this message, MRFF contacted
law enforcement authorities immediately.

Scp4 Hall is an enemy of the constitution of the United States Of America and the republic for which it stands, Further he needs to loose the attorney we the people have afforded him in these law abiding states, Jeremy Hall is an unfortunate blight to our remaining soldiers who remain in harms way sworn to defend our civil rights, he is a distraction and should be dishonorably discharged, Any individual who takes a sworn oath and refuses to honor it is in violation of that oath. This matter is crystal clear to any reasonable person. This soldier is in violation of the U.C.M.J. need an individual remain in the ranks? I believed it necessary he be relieved of duty in the U.S. armed forces. "What happened to following your first general order Jeremy?" How can anyone in good conscience allow this kind of direct disobiedience. This should not even be thought about twice, let alone a soldier who is suppose to follow the orders of his trusted superiors, Spc. 4 Hall should be given the new rank of E-0 stripped of everything because he sets a bad example and is a disgrace in a time of War. Sad that this should have to even be deliberated over. Treason, mutiny and the like are the aroma here, I wonder if John Walker Lynn could use a cellmate? This is America . Each of us must be willing to fight the people that cause these kinds of disparaging wastes of tax dollars, the real problem is his lawyer, believing he is representing" the people of the united states of America".Why not banish them both one-way to a Somalia prison, they will probably feel right at home.Why not put a price on their head so that they can get the full impact of their betrayal to this U.S.A. I know there are many people who would like to see justice take its course. Jeremy Hall is a risk. There is no freedom here, only slavery you have no right puttting ethics to the sword. Anton Lavey would be pleased. You have no right to allow this individual portray himself as an american in 1991 the law was changed to allow this type of religion in the military, this is also a violation of the constitution. Unacceptable to the people who serve or who have served. This is a wreckless soldier whose only concern is how to up stage and destroy order. He and his lawyer should be exterminated.

A. M.


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New Lawsuit Filed Against Defense Secretary Over Fundamentalist Christianity in Military

by Jason Leopold - March 5, 2008

An Army specialist who served two tours of duty in Iraq sued Defense Secretary Robert Gates and his supervising officer Wednesday for allegedly trying to force him to embrace fundamentalist Christianity and then retaliating against him when he refused.

Plaintiffs Jeremy Hall, who was stationed at Combat Operations Base Speicher, Iraq, and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org, filed the lawsuit in US District Court in Kansas City, Kansas Wednesday afternoon. The complaint was originally filed last year but withdrawn a month ago in order to include new allegations that says Hall's promotion in the Army was withdrawn because of his pending lawsuit against the military.

The complaint alleges that Hall's First Amendment rights were violated as early as Thanksgiving 2006 when, because of his atheist beliefs, Hall declined to participate in a Christian prayer ceremony commemorating the holiday.

"Immediately after plaintiff made it known he would decline to join hands and pray, he was confronted, in the presence of other military personnel, by the senior ranking ... staff sergeant who asked plaintiff why he did not want to pray, whereupon plaintiff explained because he is an atheist," the lawsuit states. "The staff sergeant asked plaintiff what an atheist is and plaintiff responded it meant that he (plaintiff) did not believe in God. This response caused the staff sergeant to tell plaintiff that he would have to sit elsewhere for the Thanksgiving dinner. Nonetheless, plaintiff sat at the table in silence and finished his meal."

Additionally, the complaint alleges that last July, when Hall received permission by an Army chaplain to organize a meeting of other soldiers who shared his atheist beliefs, his supervisor, Army Major Freddy Welborn, broke up the gathering and threatened to retaliate against the soldier by charging him with violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The complaint also alleges that Welborn vowed to block Hall's reenlistment in the Army if the atheist group continued to meet - a violation of Hall's First Amendment rights under the Constitution.

"During the course of the meeting, defendant Wellborn confronted the attendees, disrupted the meeting and interfered with plaintiff Hall's and the other attendees' rights to discuss topics of their interests," the lawsuit alleges.

The complaint charges that Hall, who is based at Fort Riley, Kansas, has been forced to "submit to a religious test as a qualification to his post as a soldier in the United States Army," a violation of Article VI, Clause 3 of the Constitution.

A Pentagon spokesman said he could not comment on the lawsuit because he has not yet seen it.

The amended lawsuit claims that a pattern of anti-Islamic sentiment exists in the military as demonstrated by photographs Hall took of posters at the Fort Riley Army base in December featuring conservative commentator and author Ann Coulter that included a statement she made several years ago about executing the leaders of Islamic nations and converting their citizens to Christianity.

Hall sent the images to representatives for MRFF and some were distributed to the media, which published stories about the issue. It was during this time, the complaint alleges, that the promotion Hall was being considered for had been withdrawn because Army officials at Fort Riley discovered Hall had sued the Defense Department and was unwilling to set aside his atheist beliefs.

"The day following this media attention, the Commanding General of Fort Riley sent out a post-wide memo," the lawsuit states. "This post-wide memo stated that plaintiff Hall was engaged in a lawsuit. Following the issuance of the memo on December 19, 2007, plaintiff Hall was notified that he would not be considered for promotion. When plaintiff Hall learned that he would be denied an appearance before the promotions board, he sought counseling from Sergeant Van Hise, who informed plaintiff Hall that since he was "under investigation," he was not eligible for an appearance before the promotions board. Sergeant Van Hise stated that plaintiff Hall was unable to put aside his personal convictions and pray with his troops. Sergeant Van Hise believed this to be a constraint on Army morale and would limit plaintiff Hall's ability to bond with his troops. Plaintiff Hall responded that religion is not a requirement of leadership. At this, Sergeant Van Hise questioned how plaintiff Hall could ask for religious freedom when in fact, as an atheist, he has no religion. Plaintiff Hall replied that the United States Army Chaplain's manual protects atheism."

Mikey Weinstein, the founder and president of The Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said “it is beyond despicable, indeed wholly unlawful, that the United States Army is actively attempting to destroy the professional career of one of its decorated young fighting soldiers, with two completed combat tours in Iraq, simply because he had the rare courage to stand up for his Constitutional rights and guarantees of separation of church and state against a superior officer who was forcefully attempting to intimidate him into accepting fundamentalist Christianity," Weinstein said in an interview.

"Our new federal lawsuit will show the almost incomprehensible national security risks to America and the world as a result of the destruction of the wall separating Church and State in the United States armed forces,” he added. ”The United States military is actively engaged in a pernicious and pervasive pattern and practice of unconstitutional rape of the precious religious freedoms of our honorable and noble sailors, soldiers, airmen, marines, National Guard, reservists and veterans. This evil is a noxious, institutional force-feeding of fundamentalist Christianity by our nation's military command structure in complete defiance of the United States Constitution."

Weinstein, a former White House attorney under Ronald Reagan, general counsel H. Ross Perot and an Air Force Judge Advocate (JAG), has been waging a one-man war against the Department of Defense for its blatant disregard of the Constitution. He published a book on his fight: "With God on Our Side: One Man's War Against an Evangelical Coup in America's Military." Weinstein is also an Air Force veteran and a graduate of the Air Force Academy. Three generations of his family have attended US military academies.

Since he launched his watchdog organization more than three years ago, Weinstein said he has been contacted by more than 6,000 active duty and retired soldiers, many of whom served or serve in Iraq, claiming that they were pressured by their commanding officers to convert to Christianity.

In August, the Pentagon's Inspector General responded to a complaint filed in 2006 by Weinstein’s organization alleging that Defense Department officials violated military regulations by appearing in a video promoting a fundamental Christian organization.

The Inspector General agreed and issued a 47-page report that was highly critical of senior Army and Air Force personnel for participating in the video while in uniform and on active duty.

The report recommended that Air Force Maj. Gen. Jack Catton, Army Brig. Gen. Bob Caslen, Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, Maj. Gen. Peter Sutton, and a colonel and lieutenant colonel whose names were redacted in the inspector general's report, "improperly endorsed and participated with a non-Federal entity while in uniform" and the men should be disciplined for misconduct. Caslen was formerly the deputy director for political-military affairs for the war on terrorism, directorate for strategic plans and policy, joint staff. He now oversees the 4,200 cadets at the US Military Academy at West Point. Caslen told DOD investigators he agreed to appear in the video upon learning other senior Pentagon officials had been interviewed for the promotional video.

The inspector general's report recommended the "Secretary of the Air Force and the Chief of Staff of the Army take appropriate corrective action with respect to the military officers concerned."

The Army generals who appeared in the video appeared to be speaking on behalf of the military, but they did not obtain prior permission to appear in the video. They defended their actions, according to the inspector general's report, saying the "Christian Embassy had become a 'quasi-Federal entity,' since the DOD had endorsed the organization to General Officers for over 25 years."

Hall’s decision to become a plaintiff with MRFF in a lawsuit against the Pentagon has had repercussions. Last September, while Hall was still stationed in Iraq, he said other US soldiers physically threatened him with after word spread that he and MRFF sued the Pentagon and the Secretary of Defense. On popular military related blogs, such as military.com, individuals who claimed they were active-duty soldiers posted comments threatening Hall with "fragging," a term used by the military in which an unpopular soldier could be killed by intentional friendly fire during combat. The comment received widespread attention on blogs and in November Hall was transferred from Combat Operations Base Speicher to Fort Riley, Kansas.


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