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CLICK ON VIDEO TO VIEW
5 minute video
Haditha Dam, Al Anbar, Iraq
The 'New Testament'
A tank with 4th Tank Co., 1st Tank battalion attached to 3rd Battalion,
25th Marines prepares to lead the way during a combat mission in Iraq.
Note the words "NEW TESTAMENT"
clearly shown on the gun barrel.
Betrays 21% of Our Troops
Sunday August 17, 2008
By Chris Rodda
As is often the case here at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), while in the course of investigating one report of constitutionally questionable activity within our armed forces, we stumble into something else that's just as bad or worse. It happened again this week. One of the thousands of MRFF supporters worldwide -- the indispensable "eyes and ears" who alert us to everything from the most egregious of constitutional violations to articles we might be interested in -- emailed MRFF founder and president Mikey Weinstein an interview with Air Force Chief of Chaplains Maj. Gen. Cecil Richardson from the August 11 print edition of the Air Force Times. Richardson, as many will remember, caused quite a stir back in 2005 when he was quoted by the New York Times as saying that Air Force chaplains "reserve the right to evangelize the unchurched." I'll get back to Richardson's Air Force Times interview in a minute, but first, here's what else this interview led MRFF to discover.
This Huffington Post article has been featured on NYTimes.com
and Newsweek.com under the "featured blogs” section on
General David Petraeus's topic page.
Fort Mills, SC
Group disputes military
in religion case
Wednesday August 13, 2008
By JOHN HANNA
TOPEKA, Kan. — A Fort Riley soldier suing the military was rebuffed recently when he took complaints about violations of his religious freedoms to the post's inspector general, an advocacy group involved in his lawsuit said Wednesday.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation, based in Albuquerque, N.M., contends Army Spc. Jeremy Hall's experiences undermine arguments made by the Justice Department in seeking to get the lawsuit dismissed.
Hall, who is an atheist, and the foundation allege the military permits religious discrimination by fundamentalist Christians who try to force their views on others, especially subordinates.
Their lawsuit, filed in March in federal court in Kansas City, Kan., names the Defense Department and Secretary Robert Gates among the defendants.
Lawyers for the Justice Department's Civil Division filed a motion last month to have the lawsuit dismissed, arguing that Hall should have complained to his chain of command rather than go to the civilian courts. Hall has until Sept. 15 to file a response to the motion.
Foundation president Mikey Weinstein said Hall's response will cite in part his visit earlier this month to Fort Riley's inspector general office, where, Weinstein said, Hall was told it could not deal with his case because that it is being "handled elsewhere."
Weinstein said the Army appears to be trying to get Hall to drop his lawsuit. Hall is seeking a court order prohibiting discriminatory practices against him because of his views on religion.
Fort Riley referred questions about Hall's case to the Justice Department, where Civil Division spokesman Charles Miller declined comment because of the pending lawsuit.
The post and the Army have said they don't condone discrimination, and the Justice Department has argued in its response that the military has adequate policies for dealing with complaints. The Justice Department also argues allowing the courts to intervene would "significantly interfere" with Army operations.
Hall alleges that while he was serving in Iraq in 2007, an Army Reserve major prevented a meeting he planned with atheists and others, then threatened to take action against Hall. The major, also a defendant, has denied the allegations.
Both Hall and the foundation allege harassment of Hall by fellow soldiers continued while he was in Iraq and after he returned late last year to assume duties with a military police unit at Fort Riley. They also allege that a promotion for Hall to sergeant was blocked. Hall plans to leave the Army in April 2009.
Army doctors placed Hall on restricted duty this summer because of back injuries arising from his service and use of body armor in Iraq.
Weinstein said someone then posted a flier in the office of Hall's platoon with a mock "creed" for soldiers on restricted duty because of a medical condition. In it, the soldier promises to "always quit," and describes himself as "a burden to the team" and guardian to "a sorry way of life."
Weinstein said the flier will become an issue in the lawsuit.
"This shows us what our kid has been going through," Weinstein said. "All this has done is massively increase our resolve."
Princeton Review ranks U.S. Air Force Academy 14 out of 368 for "Most Religious Students"
Click here to view rankings
(free registration may be required)
What better way to disseminate the message of dominionist Christianity than to
slip religious indoctrination in with the flow of military training while
the minds of young men and women in our service academies must perforce be
open to receive instruction?
This is an insidious practice, one that is carefully planned and executed
by America's worst enemies, the Dominionist Christian Movement.
Aided and abetted by a permissive if not active administration and a corps
of callous Christian thugs who place their god over the US Constitution,
these traitors operate with immunity while our young are exposed to their seditious acts.
Where is our system of justice? Who is watching out for these youngsters
besides the avaricious eyes of the opportunistic Christian Dominionists? Where
are the cadres of protectors sworn to defend our most vulnerable youth?
The answer is simple. They are at the highest levels of command,
facilitating this assault on our innocent young men and women who will take at least
part of this mind control with them into their duties. They will often be in charge of weapons of immense destructive power and always with the thought that God, or
someone like him, may require them to discharge such weapons at his behest,
perchance to facilitate Armageddon.
Were it not for the vigilance and expertise of organizations such as the
Military Religious Freedom Foundation, under whose aegis many of our young men
and women in the armed forces have been freed from the grip of illicit command
sponsored religious indoctrination, the Dominionist assault on
Democracy and its infiltration of our most vulnerable institutions might have
evolved into something even more sinister than is now the case.
Although blunted by MRFF efforts, the Dominionist Christian agenda continues
to seriously threaten the integrity of our armed forces and the safety of the
United States at large.
Colorado Springs Chapter
Military Religious Freedom Foundation
Thursday August 7, 2008
By Barry Fagin
Click here for Barry Fagin's Bio
Randy Pausch, my friend, classmate and author of the bestselling “Last Lecture”, has died of cancer. His selfless and inspiring life touched millions of people. My life goals are more modest. I just want convince you Randy is not burning in hell.
When I wrote about Randy last August, he had just given his famous Last Lecture. Millions of people all over the world have testified to the difference he has made in their lives, and mourn his loss deeply. He left behind a wife and three young children, two of whom will remember their father only in pictures.
But since Randy did not accept Jesus as his personal savior, some believe that none of that matters. To them, Randy Pausch is now suffering the torments of hell for all eternity.
Why bring up such a distressing topic? Because it is important, particularly in this town. Many Christians do not accept this particular interpretation of New Testament theology, but those who do are disproportionately influential.
I lack the space to make theological arguments here. I’ll save that for the coming email flood. The best way I can convince you that Randy Pausch is not burning in hell is by appealing to your innate moral sense: You find the idea repugnant.
That’s no surprise. The evidence shows that human beings, regardless of background, nationality or religion, have innate ideas of right and wrong. The idea that someone like Randy is now having his entrails plucked out by demons is repellent to our nature. It just doesn’t make sense.
Claiming we cannot judge scripture doesn’t cut it: We judge scripture all the time. To summarize the Jewish lay theologian Dennis Prager, “Ethics without God can give you Stalin, God without ethics can give you Khomeini”. An appeal to inborn moral judgement is one of society’s great checks on religious excess. Thoughtful people must always have the courage to ask “Does this make sense?”.
This is where scriptural interpretation comes from. It is why Jews believe there is a place for all the righteous in the world to come. It is why the Catholic Church abandoned the literal doctrine of “extra ecclesiam nulla salus” long ago.
Does the image of Randy Pausch having his eyes demonically gouged out give you pause? I’ve got another one: Pat Tillman personally disemboweled by Beelzebub. Tillman was a starting safety for the Arizona Cardinals. He gave up a multimillion dollar NFL contract to become an Army Ranger. Corporal Tillman was killed by friendly fire in 2004.
Tillman and his family were not Christian. An officer in Tillman’s chain of command believes that was exactly why Tillman’s parents had such difficulty accepting the first official (and wrong) account of their son’s death. He told ESPN that because people who die without Christ die “for nothing” and are simply “worm dirt”, Tillman’s parents had more trouble coming to terms with their loss. Honest, I don’t make this stuff up.
One prominent local church goes farther, proclaiming unbelievers in Christ will be “sent to hell where they will be eternally tormented with the devil and the fallen angels”. What comfort could they offer, I wonder, if they were to meet Tillman’s family?
It does no good to offer platitudes like “We can never know his heart”. That avoids the issue. Far too many of his fellow Americans “know” that Corporal Tillman is now burning in hell. Despite his giving up his life to protect their freedom to believe exactly that. Despite Jesus’ own words on the greatest love a man can have.
Which is more likely: That men like Randy Pausch and Pat Tillman, who lived and died as they did, are now having their flesh burned in a sulfurous lake of lava? Or that in the two thousand years between the original vision of Saul of Tarsus and the present incarnation of fundamentalist theology, somebody made a mistake?
Randy Pausch and Pat Tillman need no encomiums from me to mark their passing. The arcs of their lives are greater than anything I’ll ever do. But if their deaths could get even a few True Believers to wonder about a monopoly on the hereafter, I will weep for joy. It will add even more good to lives that overflowed with it.
Rick A. Ross Institute of New Jersey
Chaplains at top of Navy list in officer crimes, files show
The Navy has punished more than 40 chaplains over the past decade for offenses ranging from sexual abuse to fraud, a misconduct rate much higher than for other officers, according to documents that detail the Navy's alarm at the problem.
"Navy chaplains, in fact, create a disproportionate number of problem cases," Navy Chaplain Corps official Bradford E. Ableson wrote in a 1999 memo that is among several documents obtained by the Associated Press.
Stage Play Captures
Megachurch's Real-Life Drama
Beneath a large photo of Pikes Peak, six actors bounce on stage to Christian music and cope with scandal as they explore life in the center of the evangelical universe: Colorado Springs, Colo.
"This Beautiful City," which premiered here in June with plans for performances in Los Angeles and New York by 2009, captures the coffee shops and the worship music of New Life Church, the prominent megachurch perhaps best known for the sex-and-drugs downfall of former senior pastor Ted Haggard.
Comment submitted to and
a response from
"Ask the Commander"
Air Force Research Laboratory
at Wright Patterson AFB
Anonymous comment: What is going on with our Air Force lately?
What is the view from the top? What are we going to do? I ask this in
the most respectful way possible, but lately it seems that our
leadership has been making a series of very bad and very public
Response: USAF Academy: Two primary scandals. First, the sexual assaults and the leadership's lack of serious attention to the problem. The Academy may have been no worse than the other two academies, and far better than your average school-but we expect higher standards, and the cadets and the nation deserve higher standards. Second, the "religious
intolerance, insensitivity and inappropriate proselytizing" that far
exceeded the boundaries of separation of church and state.
It's worth remembering that in both cases, the Air Force established
outside, independent review teams that verified the improper behavior
and took corrective action. As a USAFA graduate, I was appalled by both
scandals. Where once I proudly proclaimed my alma mater, today I know
that every time someone from "the outside world" asks where I graduated
from, there is a good chance they'll say "Oh, isn't that the place
that...?" That's starting to fade now...but it does show how powerful
these events linger in the minds of the people we are trusted to defend.
CURTIS M. BEDKE Major General, USAF
August 17, 2008
After viewing the Rick Warren Horror Show last night is it any wonder why Focus On The Family, New Life Church, Campus Crusade for Christ Military Mission, Officer's Christian Fellowship , Christian Military Fellowship International and other Dominion Christian Organizations, along with their minions in the armed forces and government operate with virtual immunity?
Our two assumptive presidential candidates, attempting to "out Christian" each other, gave us a chilling glimpse into a future America teetering on the brink of Theocracy and firmly in the pockets of the Dominion Christian power brokers who so control most facets of government or operate under its aegis; an America to which Gays, Lesbians, Agnostics, Atheists, non-Christian and even moderate Christian practitioners need not apply. Never has the American Constitution been so plainly and ruthlessly savaged as in last night's bastardization of American politics. Are these two running for president or Pope?
August 17, 2008
Isn't there something just a little fishy with a born-again christian leader interviewing publicly) the two candidates, asking them religion-based questions? If Iranheld free elections, BUT they were proceeded with a panel session where the top two candidates were interviewed by the top Ayatollahs in town, how would we react?
Ok, we've grown used to seeing our candidates at church on Sunday, videoed by the networks, but this is a whole new level. Will they be interviewed by panels or individuals representing other beliefs or non-belief?
To earn votes, we've seen both candidates make faith declarations with specificity that would shock previous generations, I think.
None of this bodes well for the future.
August 15, 2008
Mikey, in the article Air Force Times - Religion at issue, which I liked to from the August MRFF newsletter, Cecil Richardson appears to give only his personal (and religiously influenced) opinion. There's no mention of law, and America is supposedly a nation based on the rule of law. There's no mention of how the Constitution directs chaplain activities.
There's also no mention of unit cohesion, and how overt recognition of Christianity in the workplace makes non-Christians (not to mention, even some Christians) feel like they're excluded and like this can't possibly be America, here freedom of religion means no one is excluded based on their religion. The two concepts go hand in hand. If there is freedom of religion, there is no exclusion or sense of exclusion based on religion.
Are my tax-payer dollars paying his salary so he can represent me, as part of my official government, and indicate that his personal take on the world, starting from his religious base, are all that matters? Am I paying for him to evangelize, and for him to tell others that, even in the workplace, it's okay to introduce yourself by your religion? "I'm married, have kids, and I'm a practicing Christian" are not the kind of talk that business, real business is based on. It's the kind of talk that good old boys' clubs and nepotism are based on. Must we similarly define ourselves, and thereby give new acquaintances all they need to pigeonhole us? After all, it's so much easier to start discriminatory tactics early, before one gets to know the real person, deep inside.
August 7, 2008
Sir or Madam,
Since I could not find a more appropriate address, I would like to have this E passed on to LGEN Blum. I do request a reply by LGEN Blum or his designated representative.
I recently read an article that addressed certain remarks reportedly made by you. If true as reported, then, with all due respect to your rank, I found them to be deeply disturbing, insulting, and highly defamatory. I am sending you this E in order to present my feelings and views, and to hear your response and your side of the story.
before a meeting of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 2006. Well suited to life on the frontlines because "something that they lived their whole life [sic] believing gets thrown out the door" when they are faced with mortality.
I may be mistaken (and if so, I apologize), but I read your bio, and I could find no record of you having any combat service or "gun time," nor any of the awards, decorations, or badges (such as the CIB) that would indicate you had ever "crossed the line." While I don't fault you for not being in combat per se, this lack, IMO, would make you singularly unqualified to comment on what it is like to be either religious or irreligious in a combat zone. While you are of course entitled to an opinion as part of your Constitutional rights, it would be a completely unqualified one - and still demonstrably false.
I have been an agnostic formally since I was at least 15 years of age. I was also a US Marine beginning in 1966, and in RVN in 1967-68. Before and during the time you were in college in MD, I was at Khe Sanh, where on several occasions I engaged in close personal ground combat, including an occasion where I operated with members of the US Army Special Forces from FOB 3 (ODA-221) in an attempt to recover the bodies of some of their men who were ambushed.
The team leader is a (Republican and Christian) gentleman from TX. He seemed pleased enough with my performance for him that day that he offered to put me in for a medal. Though the medal never arrived (for a variety of reasons), he was still grateful for my (voluntary) assistance that day. So was the gentleman who would have been his replacement (had he not been hit that day), who, with others, I dragged and carried under heavy small arms fire to the med-evac chopper who bravely landed in a damned hot LZ, despite withering fire from the enemy, who heavily outnumbered us.
I made at least three trips up and down that hill that day, all under heavy fire, and I trust that nobody had cause to complain of my "suitability" despite my "godlessness." Nothing I believed got "thrown out the door" and there was never an occasion then or other times when I faced deadly action that I didn't function as well or better than the next man, be he believer or otherwise. Anyone who knew me then (and some still are alive) would tell you that I ever shirked or fled.
We eventually left that hill under heavy fire, but had not the team CO on FOB-3 called in a "Prairie Fire" I might not be here to tell the tale. If the general or anyone else cares to read the story, which is found in several history books, he can see the final copy made by the SF Team leader here: http://www.cap-oscar.org
I will also be more than happy to put you in touch with the living gentlemen who survived that harrowing day and others who knew me, by way of a "character reference" if need be.
However, sir, if the above quote is accurate, and you did indeed by extension denigrate and disparage my "suitability" for combat service and that of all the other irreligious or other than "Christian" servicemen and women, then you seriously need to sit down and rethink your own position, because while most of the men I served with did very well indeed, there was absolutely no connection between their service and their religion or lack thereof.
Some of the men I knew were Christians of one stripe or another, some Jews, one was a Muslim, and many were agnostics or atheists. I even knew some Wiccans. (And yes, contrary to the old saw, there ARE agnostics and atheists in foxholes - I was one of them!).
Some of those agnostics and atheists have received personal awards for valor, up to and including the Medal of Honor. (I have known personally four MOH winners and one was, at least in our acquaintance, quite devoid of religious sentiment. Likewise with holders of the Navy Cross, Silver Star, etc., that I have known and still do know - but I suppose they are nonetheless "unsuited" for combat by your standards...)
In addition, (if the above is true), I also bitterly resent your mentioning "agnostics, atheists, and bigots" in one breath. I am not a bigot. In fact, I don't personally know any agnostic or atheist bigots, though I am sure there may be some. I DO know plenty of far-right fundamentalist "Christian" bigots, who show their version of "god's love" in strange ways indeed - such as fatuous statements like the above.
(I might add, while not defending bigotry in any way, shape or form, I have also known seriously bigoted people who fought as well as the next man.)
If you are not responsible for the above, or were quoted out of context, or have some other reasonable explanation for this statement, I am willing to hear it. If it is as stated, be assured that I will be expecting a sincere and public apology for your defamation of not only me but many of my comrades, living and dead.
Failing that, I will be contacting my representatives to let them know how much this statement and others we have been hearing lately bother me. In addition to being a flat-out defamatory lie, it is in direct contravention of the Constitution we both swore to uphold and defend, which explicitly states that there shall be no religious test for public office, nor any established church in the US. While I defend your right to believe and worship as you please, you DO NOT have the right to publicly denigrate the personal beliefs of the people you are (supposed to be) leading, nor to preach your beliefs while representing the US Army NG as an officer thereof.
F. J. T.
August 12, 2008
I happened to catch a portion of Michael Weinstein’s interview with Dan Rather. I was unable to watch the entire program but fortunately have a DVR so was able to record it to view later.
As a United Methodist Clergyman I am well aware of some of the tactics of the fundamentalist groups in their aggressive attempts to “win souls for Jesus Christ.” I find that most of them are driven by hate and intolerance. I feel that their homophobia is simply the tip of the iceberg of their agenda. I resent the fact that this sort of hate mongering is going on in the US military which is funded by the tax dollars of ALL Americans. I have heard these fundamentalists referring to making the US a “Christian Nation” and it scares the hell out of me!!
The only thing that scares me more that a fundamentalist Muslim is a fundamentalist Christian!!
Please know that I support you in you efforts and wish you every success.
August 7, 2008
I would like to be a part of a local effort; however, I cannot have visibility as my wife has a DAC job at (name of military installation withheld). I believe strongly if my profile is too high that her career will be impacted, as mine was while in the Air Force and especially on my last assignment at the same location. I don't want her fighting an unseen and cowardly enemy that can put up career roadblocks while ostensibly being fair.
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