Jan 24, 2011

Veterans, The Military, and Religious Freedom

Rightwing, sectarian Christians are embedded at the DVA, the Pentagon, all branches of the U.S. military, and the military academies. They want Christian armed forces. And they have plenty of friends in the mediaFox and the usual suspectsto echo their call for war, but work against increased veterans' benefits. One of their media organs is the Colorado Springs Gazette which runs interference for Dominionist Christians at the Colorado Springs-based U.S. Air Force Academy.

[Marine (pictured in Vietnam 1969) at right says he did not fight for a "Christian-Dominionist-favored America." He fought for other lies.]

The Academy has a long record of out-and-out religious bigotry, and now it has invited a self-proclaimed “Lord’s Army” soldier, Clebe McClary, to proselytize Academy personnel.

The Colorado Springs Gazette sprung into action calling the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) [and presumably all of the civil rights groups on MRFF's side] the real forces of hate and division.

Here's a rejoinder:

Mr. Laugesen,
Colorado Springs Gazette

We read with amusement your assertions that Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, and allies wish to “censor” the address of Marine 1st Lt. Clebe McClary at the February prayer luncheon at the US Air Force Academy.

To preface, as veterans and advocates, we write in support of the position of Mr. Weinstein and his organization to rescind the invitation of McClary.

McClary has made no secret of his once a Marine, now ‘a member of the Lord’s Army’ dedication to proselytizing and instilling Christian supremacy at the academy where Muslims, Jews, Wiccans, the wrong kind of Christians and others have been discriminated against and threatened. We’ll spare you and your readers the imprecations cadets and other Academy personnel have endured.

Surely, if the reasons behind the invitation to McClary were simply to secure the services of a motivational speaker (as Lieutenant General Michael Gould’s staff claims) then a more inclusive, tolerant Christian figure could be located.

National Prayer Breakfast

We are quite conversant on the national level with The Family, the D.C. National Prayer Breakfast, and similar events, and count many members and associates of these functions as friends.

But these people from all walks of life with whom we are acquainted go out of their way to be ecumenical, tolerant, and compassionate. We disagree on about every topic as a group.

Our friendship is built on something deeper. As President Obama said at last February’s National Prayer Breakfast: “Remember Abraham Lincoln. On the eve of the Civil War, with states seceding and forces gathering, with a nation divided half slave and half free, he rose to deliver his first Inaugural and said, ‘We are not enemies, but friends… Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.’ Even in the eyes of confederate soldiers, he saw the face of God.”

The U.S. Air Force Academy has put on a pretty lousy show in light of President Lincoln’s words. Too many reports of hate and exclusion have reached our writers to take seriously your words that Weinstein is motivated by wishes of division, prior restraint; and against freedom of speech, freedom of religion and academic freedom.

The U.S. Air Force Academy’s prayer luncheon is autonomous, and quite frankly in light of the statements made to us by the Christian folks we know, it represents a provincial, hateful and exclusionary practice [we have heard reports of Academy personnel concerned about their careers should they not attend this event, and ever-present worries in the dominionist Academy culture], the event is a fraud.

As Americans we object to McClary’s campaign in the specific history of this troubled institution.

We see no need to regale your readers with stories of our military service. We do stand ready to defend liberty, the freedom of all faiths and views of all Americans, and the Constitution for the United States of America.

We stand with Mr. Weinstein whole-heartedly with respect to Lt. McClary and his proselytizing that we believe is violative of Article VI of the Constitution for the United States of America: “[N]o religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

This is not academic for us, nor limited to the situation at the Academy.

As the drums beat on the Potomac for more theaters of war, we note these same voices are the ones who claim to have a pipeline to the Almighty, like McClary’s. We’re not buying this atonal music.

Poll Questions

Your poll questions are as intellectually dishonest as is the PR emitting from the Academy which you defend.

- Is war hero Clebe McClary an appropriate speaker for the Air Force Academy?

- Yes, McClary is an appropriate speaker

- No, McClary should not speak because he's a devout Christian

- Don't care

As for Mikey Weinstein, we proudly stand with him with considerable resources that we will utilize to see that Article VI; Constitution for the United States of America is followed to the letter and the fullest extent. We repeat, vis: “[N]o religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

Truly Yours,

Gordon Duff
USMC (ret)
Vietnam 1969-70
Email: Gpduf@aol.com

Robert L. Hanafin
Major, US Air Force (ret)
GS-14, U.S. Civil Service (ret)
Vietnam and Gulf War Veteran
Email: indythinker@sbcglobal.net

Michael Leon
Managing Editor, Veterans Today
Madison, Wisconsin
Email: editor@veteranstoday.com

John Allen
U.S. Army (1981-85)
General Manager, Veterans Today
Email: gm@veteranstodaynetwork.com

Jackie Captain
Sr. Project Manager
Madison, Wisconsin

Bob Higgins
USMC Vietnam 1965-66

And the Board of Directors and Staff Writers at Veterans Today

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