MRFF’s Long Fight for
Military Religious Freedom
by ADL's Rapid Request for
New York, NY
June 30, 2008
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), concerned that religious harassment and unwelcome proselytizing are an ongoing problem in the military and the nation's service academies, today called on the House and Senate Armed Services Committees to hold "clearly needed" hearings on religious activity in the military.
"Charges of religious harassment and unwelcome proselytizing are disturbing in the context of the command structure within the military and our nation's service academies," said Glen S. Lewy, ADL National Chair and Abraham H. Foxman, National Director. "Instructors, officers and upper class cadets have virtually absolute command authority over their students and subordinates, creating a unique potential for undue pressure on an individual to conform in order not to jeopardize his or her military career."
In letters to ranking members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, ADL said congressional oversight and hearings that could lead to the adoption of consistent guidelines are necessary to address reports of religious intolerance and proselytizing in the armed forces and at government institutions such as West Point and the Naval Academy.
"Government institutions like West Point, the Naval Academy and the U.S. Air Force Academy bear a special responsibility to avoid religious coercion and to respect the rights of religious minorities guaranteed by the Constitution," said Mr. Lewy and Mr. Foxman. "We urge the committees to hold oversight hearings on religious activity in the military and to establish a mechanism to redraft appropriate guidelines and training materials to define the constitutional and policy limits on this activity in the military."
ADL has long urged Congressional oversight of reforms proposed in the 2005 report of the Headquarters Review Group, which concluded that religious intolerance was a persistent problem at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In January 2007, the League called for Congressional hearings after the Department of Defense authorization bill directed the secretaries of the Air Force and Navy to rescind their existing guidelines on religious activity.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.
Recently, ADL National Director
Abraham H. Foxman
support in the wake of
MRFF President and Founder
Mikey Weinstein's recent hate crime incident
June 18, 2008
I was sorry to hear that you and your family were the victims of an anti-Semitic incident over the weekend. I understand our New Mexico Director, Susan Seligman, has been in touch with you to offer the support and resources of the ADL. Hate crimes such as this not only impact you but our whole community. I wish you and law enforcement every success in finding the perpetrator(s).
Abraham H. Foxman
June 18, 2008
Thank you for reaching out to me and my family. My daughter Amber is a new convert to Judaism and has not had to face some of these pernicious matters of anti-semitism so directly before this weekend's horrendous acts at our home. It is one of the last privileges of youth but she so beautifully sums up a sentiment that is foremost in my mind; "This isn't a dream...this is real people filled with enmity still exist, they always will."It is hard to be at the receiving end of cowardly attacks like the one we suffered Sunday night here in Albuquerque. Our work with the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, mostly with non-Jews- will certainly continue, but we are reminded that, even when we stand as brother and sister Americans, some people will always try to dismiss our concerns as "its just those Jews complaining" again. That dismissal reminds me of the paralysis that Jews felt in the '30's and '40's in responding to Europe's madness and our own country's nightmare of hatred and suspicion towards Jews---in this country, the Christian right is on the move again....particularly in our U.S. armed forces. It's become an internal national security threat of Jovian magnitude. We all want to look away, but can't!!! I hope that perhaps we can open a new chapter of possibly working together?!
---perhaps a face-to-face meeting?!---someday maybe---Susan Seligman's constancy of both overt and behind-the-scenes support for us has never wavered and will always be appreciated on so very many levels.
Take care, Abe