Showing posts with label Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF). Show all posts
Showing posts with label Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF). Show all posts

May 23, 2014

Memorial Day—Support Constitution the Fallen Vowed to Defend


The religious right hates Article VI of the U.S. Constitution.

It reads in part, "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

Mikey Weinstein has been working for Marines and servivemembers for a long time, fighting to protect their religious beliefs.

Lt. Col. Robert Bateman has a piece in Esquire on Mikey and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.

Weinstein, according to the Christian supremacists, is the number one enemy in America.

Give it a read this weekend.

And Happy Memorial Day.

Jun 14, 2013

Christian Fundie Puts up House Amendment to Target Mil Civil Rights Leader

This is over the top.

"The extreme fundamentalists have convinced the members of Congress, and specifically the House of Representatives, that Mikey Weinstein and MRFF are anti-Christian activists" for whom they have drafted and introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act 2014, Freethought blog reports.

Read the story at Freethought Blog and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas) brags at his congressional website on July 13 that "House passes Huelskamp Amendment and Rebukes Anti-Christian Zealot Mikey Weinstein."

Think Christian Dominionists aren't serious.

Think again.

Jun 5, 2013

Military Civil Rights Leader Sees Increase in Death Threats

I missed the chance to get together with Mikey Weinstein when he was in Madison, Wisconsin on a book tour.

Security and logistics didn't work out, and I told Mikey I understood and not to worry about it.

I am aware that death threats against Mikey are the norm, coming from Dominionist Christians, Evangelicals, and the type of people whom the late journalist, Ralph McGill termed "rabid, mad-dog minds."

Message from Facebook poster who threatened to
kill civil rights activist, Mikey Weinstein
These people can't bear the work of this proud Jewish man serving our country, and making the U.S. military safe for all servicemembers, as guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution, Article VI, Section III.

But some of Mikey's enemies are not garden-variety fundamentalist Christians.

No, these idiots would kill him, if they had the chance. But Mikey knows how to take care of himself.

As a Vietnam combat Marine once told me, advising on how to deal with enemies: "We don't get stressed. We inflict it." Crazy dude knows what he is talking about.

Anyway, writing this piece because a new death threat on Facebook against Mikey pissed me off.

Here's the story:

Vile Death Threats Levelled at Mikey Weinstein on Facebook

The following screenshots (many more threats are on Facebook), taken from Facebook, show the extent of the vile hatred that has been directed towards Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein, Founder and President of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.

Mikey has been given many names by his enemies including “Satan”, “Satan’s lawyer”, “the Antichrist”, “That Godless, Secular Leftist”, “Antagonizer of All Christians”, “Most Dangerous Man in America” and “Field General of the Godless Armies of Satan.” With such hideous slanders and attacks being repeated daily in the Christian fundamentalist press, it comes as no surprise that many have wished death to Mikey and his family.

Please note: while we typically redact the names of those who send us hate mail in respect to privacy concerns, the below threats were made on Facebook in the full knowledge that a public audience would see them.

The following messages from “Becky Williams” were posted to Mikey Weinstein’s Facebook page on the afternoon of Tuesday, June 4, 2013:  
  Click here to access selected hatemail from detractors and cowards afraid to show their faces.

Dec 18, 2012

Called a Satanist, Mikey Weinstein Makes U.S. Defense Community's Top 100 Most Influential People

100 Most Influential People in U.S. Defence

'Constitutional conscience' of the U.S. military gets end-of-year notice by military press

A civil rights activist has been named as one of the most influential people in the U.S. defense community by editorial staff working at government sector press outlets, collectively comprising the world's largest military newsroom. This inaugural list of the top 100 most influential people is based upon perceived "leadership, innovation, technology and vision" in our country with an annual defense budget of some $740 billion.

Mikey Weinstein, the founder and chief of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, founded the civil rights organization in 2006, and represented and continues to advocate for 10,000s of American servicemen and woman.

Weinstein is an author, an attorney, and has been nominated for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize for the fifth consecutive year, a year seeing Weinstein draw headlines for working for human rights amid death threats and anti-Semitic slurs.

The list "was compiled over five months by more than two dozen reporters" at the Gannett government media’s sector-leading publications: Defense News, Army Times, Air Force Times, Navy Times, Marine Corps Times, Armed Forces Journal and Federal Times.

As reported on its website, the "Military Religious Freedom Foundation is dedicated to ensuring that all "members of the United States Armed Forces fully receive the Constitutional guarantees of religious freedom to which they and all Americans are entitled by virtue of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment."

Weinstein has so disturbed the Christian-Dominion religious infrastructure ingrained in the U.S. military that top serving brass as recently as 2008 publicly accused Weinstein of engaging in a "demonic” agenda," as described by Lieutenant General William “Jerry” Boykin.

Jeff Sharlet in Harper's Magazine has written extensively about the "powerful movement of Christian soldiers concentrated in the officer corps" against whom Weinstein, a committed army of civil libertarians, cadets, veterans, troops and Marines fight.

Writes Sharlet of the dominionists: "They see themselves not as subversives but as spiritual warriors—'ambassadors for Christ in uniform,' according to Officers’ Christian Fellowship; 'government paid missionaries,' according to Campus Crusade’s Military Ministry."

What has the Dominionists and assorted Christian nationalists feeling aggrieved is the effectiveness of Weinstein that these Christian avengers can no longer ignore, along with the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Dec 6, 2012

Cadet, United States Military Academy at West Point: Uphold the U.S. Constitution

Update: West Point Military Cadet's Unsettling Story of How Christianity Dominates the Academy and Drove Him to Quit (Valerie Tarico, AlterNet)

West Point Cadet sacrifices career in noble stance defending U.S. Constitution from religious zealots

West Point doesn't seem to believe in Article VI of the United States Constitution—as in "... no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

Blake Page, cadet at the United States Military Academy at West Point, is educating some very foolish people.

Page has resigned from West Point out of principle and out of respect for the U.S. Constitution.

This is not a Christian nation, and certainly not a Christian military. Got that, fundies?


From Page's piece at Huffington Post:

While there are certainly numerous problems with the developmental program at West Point and all service academies, the tipping point of my decision to resign was the realization that countless officers here and throughout the military are guilty of blatantly violating the oaths they swore to defend the Constitution. These men and women are criminals, complicit in light of day defiance of the Uniform Code of Military Justice through unconstitutional proselytism, discrimination against the non-religious and establishing formal policies to reward, encourage and even at times require sectarian religious participation. These transgressions are nearly always committed in the name of fundamentalist evangelical Christianity. The sparse leaders who object to these egregious violations are relegated to the position of silent bystanders, because they understand all too well the potential ramifications of publicly expressing their loyalty to the laws of our country.

Oct 19, 2012

Military Civil Rights Union Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

In the face of fierce attacks by right wing Christian dominionists on the ideal of a secular U.S. military (and an officially secular U.S. government) and the preservation of the constitutional guarantee of no religious test for public office or trust, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation has received the nomination the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize. - Letter nominating the Military Religious Freedom Foundation for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.

Via the Military Religious Freedom Foundation

Thorbjørn Jagland
Chairman Nobel Prize Committee

Dear Chairman Jagland and Nobel Peace Prize Committee members:

Clause 3, Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution

In the midst of the present global economic crisis, tensions between nations and peoples have all-too-frequently erupted in horrific violence. Much of this violence has emanated from those who have sought to justify their atrocities by means of theology. They advance their dark agendas under the false pretext of divine mandate, the fulfillment of “End Times” eschatology, neo-“Crusader” aspirations, or a twisted and falsified conception of the sacred Islamic duty of “Jihad.” U.S. Air Force Academy honor graduate Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein initially founded the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF; www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org) in 2005 to fight back against religious discrimination within the United States Armed Forces. Weinstein’s overriding goal focuses on the protection of the “wall” separating church and state in the U.S. military, a legal barrier with foundations in the United States Constitution which is being worn away through a process of attrition by homegrown religious extremists. The discrimination faced by Weinstein, as well as that faced by his military academy graduate children, is the clear result of an ever-expanding Christian Fundamentalist hegemonic foothold within the U.S. military.

Mikey Weinstein’s fearlessly outspoken approach has resulted in MRFF standing as the sole beacon of civil rights protection for servicemembers who have encountered pervasive prejudice, bigotry, and related horrid civil rights abuses against their religious liberties resulting from their expressed religious faith (or lack thereof). These incidents have included forced attendance at Christian prayer ceremonies and events, hazing on religious grounds, and persecution that has run the gamut from routine belittlement to forms of “witch-hunting.” These incidents are horrifyingly redolent of the darkest periods in the history of the United States. In a shocking testament to this intolerable and unjust environment, over 30,000 active duty United States marines, sailors, airmen, soldiers, veterans, and civilian personnel have swollen the ranks of MRFF’s clientele. This shockingly-large roster of clients includes all individuals who have contacted or retained the services of the foundation. Eleven of these clients have been Killed in Action, as was a valued core MRFF Advisory Board Member. Among these tens of thousands of aggrieved servicemembers, the vast majority – nearly 96% – are Christians (Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox) who face persecution on account of their perceived lack of fundamentalist evangelical zeal.

The trauma of prolonged warfare is taking a heavy toll on troop morale, leading to devastating suicide rates among active duty service members and veterans of foreign conflicts. These stresses constitute an all-too-common consequence of all war, and are hardly isolated to servicemembers and veterans alone. However, this trauma also has a deleterious effect among civilians, and leads to the deterioration of families. In September 2012, the U.S. Army even held its first “Stand-down” to address the suicide epidemic. Shockingly, soldiers were then forced to undergo a coerced mass Christian prayer ceremony. Needless to say, this is a manner of proselytizing that is perniciously predatory, and deals grievous blows to the health of American society as a whole.

What Weinstein and MRFF are fighting against is nothing less than an evangelical fundamentalist coup within the United States Armed Forces. This Christian extremist fifth column has its roots in a Cold War-era alliance between the U.S. Department of Defense and militant outfits such as the Christian Anti-Communism Crusade and the Church of the Christian Crusade. However, successive generations of military leadership have preserved this alliance far beyond its original Cold War/anti-communist shelf life. The result has been a U.S. military that is steeped in a highly caustic brew of sectarianism, domineering religious bigotry, and an arrogant, dehumanizing attitude towards the civilian populations of the regions where the U.S. finds itself militarily engaged.

The United States’ proclaimed goals of facilitating dialogue between civilizations and cultures, while securing global peace in the process, are starkly undermined by a culture within its armed forces that equates implements of death and mass destruction with the “soul-saving” tools of Christian missionaries. This ultra-nationalist, deluded undercurrent within the armed forces is precisely what Mr. Weinstein and MRFF have committed to fighting. MRFF utilizes all manners of media tools as well as federal and state litigation to forthrightly confront every manifestation of “Dominionism” that has arisen from within the ranks of the U.S. military, as well as its halls of academia.

Indeed, MRFF, with Mr. Weinstein at its helm, has uncovered the unabashed, brazen display of militant religious regalia and iconography within the United States military. In many cases, MRFF has halted their usage after shining a bright constitutional spotlight on the dubious legality of associating church with state.

Such was the case when, in this past Spring of 2012, Beaufort, South Carolina-based Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122 (VMFA-122) changed its name from the “Werewolves” to the “Crusaders.” Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Wade Wiegel showed his astounding historical ignorance when stating that “The name change is a reflection of our heritage… [it is] not politically incorrect”! As far as the “political correctness” of such an inflammatory move is concerned, we’ll leave that up to others to judge. However, any criteria for “correctness” should take into account the fact that in the Arab and Muslim collective memory, “Crusader” is no meaningless appellation. To Arabs and Muslims, “Crusader” is synonymous with a genocidal campaign of colonial banditry, occupation, and mass slaughter initiated by Christians from the West. As Mikey Weinstein correctly noted at the time, “The Crusades serve as a hideous testament to the noxious danger embodied by the foreboding alloy of weaponized theology.” What purpose could such a provocation serve, besides circulating this “weaponized theology” throughout the U.S. military?

“Weaponized theology” is an apt description of the so-called “Jesus Rifles” and “Jesus Nukes,” phrases which conflict with the true gospel of Christ as understood by countless generations of faithful Christians. However, under the auspices of highly ranked evangelical fundamentalist Christians within the top echelons of the U.S. military, both Jesus Rifles and Jesus Nukes have become an absurd reality. In January 2010, MRFF uncovered the fact that military contractor Trijicon was branding its scopes with New Testament Biblical citations. MRFF pressure led to the provision of kits by the Department of Defense meant to scrub off the engravings. Unfortunately, as of October 2012, many of these rifle scopes still carry the citations. This travesty sends a clear message to the United States’ ostensible allies in the Muslim world that a nontrivial number of U.S. service personnel indeed see their tools of death as a means to advance a missionary agenda. In July 2011, MRFF exposed decades-old official USAF presentation materials used to train countless Air Force nuclear missile launch officers on the ethics of nuclear warfare by citing New Testament verses and Christian “Just War” theory. These wretched presentations, known colloquially within the Air Force as the “Jesus Loves Nukes” speech, were swiftly pulled from USAF curriculum within days of their worldwide exposure by MRFF, and a complete audit of other training materials was ordered. However, it is unknown how many active-duty Air Force officers, having been entrusted with the most destructive weapons known to humankind, believe that their fundamentalist Christian faith must guide whether they launch a nuclear missile or not.

There have been countless other examples where MRFF advocacy has played a crucial role in stemming the tide of evangelical fundamentalist zeal within and throughout the U.S. military. From the unconstitutional endorsement of Islamophobic, warmongering, so-called “charities” such as Rev. Franklin Graham’s Operation Christmas Child to the extension of invitations to dyed-in-the-wool Christian militarists like Gen. “Jerry” Boykin, Mr. Weinstein and MRFF have ceaselessly struggled to regain the footing of a U.S. military that seems positively spellbound by belligerent religiosity. MRFF also managed to successfully have the official insignia of the four service branches removed from so-called “Military Bibles” filled with fundamentalist addenda. For this reason, Mr. Weinstein, his family, and MRFF are almost daily in receipt of vile hate mail and death threats, many of which cite the same “fire and brimstone” imprecatory curses and biblical citations.

Mikey Weinstein’s fervent commitment has led to concrete results, including the introduction of guidelines meant to rein in the rampant abuse of commission that comes in the form of Christian fundamentalist agitation in the ranks of the armed forces. MRFF pressure, and a string of embarrassing incidents uncovered by the Foundation, directly culminated in the issuance of Air Force Instruction 1-1 Standards of Conduct. This AFI 1-1 document requires total mandatory compliance on penalty of potential adverse criminal action, including courts martial, under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The document requires non-chaplain officers and supervisors to “avoid the actual or apparent use of their position to promote their personal religious beliefs to their subordinates or to extend preferential treatment for any religion.” This new Air Force directive gives teeth to the explicit constitutional proscription of unauthorized proselytization or endorsements of religious organizations.

Mr. Weinstein has received numerous honors for his efforts to advance MRFF’s humanitarian civil rights cause. The foremost Jewish publication, The Forward, named Weinstein one of 2006’s “Forward 50” for his contributions in the sphere of “Ideas & Activism.” Weinstein has also received the prestigious honor of the Jews for Racial and Economic Justice’s Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer Risk-Taker Award in 2008. In 2010, Weinstein received the Anne Froehlich Political Courage Award from the Pacific Palisades Democratic Club in Los Angeles, California, joining the prestigious ranks of past awardees such as Ambassador Joseph Wilson IV, former talk show host Phil Donahue, and Daniel Ellsberg of “Pentagon Papers” fame. MRFF has received four total nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize, for award years 2010, 2011, and 2012. Mr. Weinstein’s list of honors was capped in November of 2011 when he received the inaugural “Person of the Year” award from Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

The ongoing efforts of Mr. Weinstein’s organization have earned MRFF acclaim as a trusted go-to source for aggrieved servicemembers seeking redress for the affronts they’ve been forced to tolerate in silence. MRFF is the only civil rights organization dealing solely with issues of religious freedom, tolerance, and respect within the U.S. military for both “faith” and “no faith” adherents.

The United States Armed Forces possesses the largest arsenals of both conventional and unconventional weaponry known to mankind, and is ominously more than capable of bringing about the “end times” level of destruction that many evangelical fundamentalist Christians excitedly await. Furthermore, considering the United States military’s global presence and ability to project force, issues that affect the U.S. military truly concern the entire world. The Military Religious Freedom Foundation’s ongoing vital work to prevent religious extremism from turning our military into a nuclear weapons-fueled 21st century Crusade continues to concretely advance the cause of universal world peace, and promote a universal fraternity between nations.

In consideration of the innumerable accomplishments and important ongoing tasks that this civil rights organization has undertaken to guard against religious extremism and ensure the basic human right of religious freedom in the U.S. Armed Forces, both domestically and in all nations where they are present, it is my honor and privilege to hereby submit my nomination of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.

Sincerely, [Name redacted]
[Organization redacted]

Feb 10, 2012

Weinstein's Right on Marine Scout Sniper-NAZI Icon

Marine Scout Snipers pose with NAZI Icon

Update: Panetta calls for new probe into Marines posing with Nazi SS logo

Members of the U.S. Marine Corps 1st Recon Battalion, Charlie Company operating in the Sangin district, Afghanistan felt the need—for some incomprehensible reason—to use the Ancient Runic alphabet letters adopted by Heinrich Himmler's Schutzstaffel, the SS, as their own icon, placed next to the American flag in a picture for which they posed in September 2010.

Heinrich Himmler's Schutzstaffel, the SS

You fucked up. Renounce it and move on.

When you felt the need to mark your rifles with the SS symbol, you fucked up again. Renounce it and move on.

No one expects you to read Norman Cohn's analyses of the NAZIs in the middle of this bull-shit war known as Operation Enduring Freedom, especially your unit. No one expects you to know all of the particular idiocies of NAZI iconography

Jesus Christ, do you know what Himmler's SS means? Seriously, I would recommend no dishonorable discharge, not loss of anything as reportedly the U.S. military has already dealt with your imbecility internally.

"Those people. Those millions of people. I never knew it would come to that."
—"It came to that the first time you sentenced a man to death you knew to be innocent."
Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)
Why would you use the ancient runic alphabet letters used by Heinrich Himmler's Schutzstaffel, the SS? Deliver a message to Islam that your unit is genocide-capable?

But think. Read the late Norman Cohn's The Pursuit of the Millennium: Revolutionary Millenarians and Mystical Anarchists of the Middle Ages (1957) and Warrant for Genocide: The Myth of the Jewish World Conspiracy and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (1970).



The NAZIs did not just commit historical atrocities; they were idiots with whom no decent human being would want to associate himself.

Mother Jones reports:
Walter Plywaski, a survivor of the Lodz ghetto and Auschwitz concentration camp in World War II who later became a US citizen and Air Force veteran, expressed disgust at the Marines' behavior. "The photographs below roil my intestines and break my heart beyond words to express," he wrote in an email to Weinstein. "I wish I could really believe that these sniper teams innocently combined the view of the United States flag with the central symbol of the murderous SS!"
I had the pleasure of many exchanges with Walter over the last few years. Think he would be proud of a public renouncement by your unit. But renounce NAZIs for your selves.

As for Norman Cohn, I'll break it down for you: All the NAZIs required of the population and NAZI Party members is a “mood of passive compliance” as Hitler’s Holocaust coursed through Europe as he promised a return to “traditional values” and security for good German families,

MRFF Statement on SS Banner Flying Alongside U.S. Flag in Afghanistan

Marine sniper's rifle-stock sporting
Himmler's Schutzstaffel, the SS Icon
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is absolutely sickened by the disgusting images of members of the U.S. Marine Corps 1st Recon Battalion, Charlie Company, proudly posing in front of the U.S. flag juxtaposed alongside a symbol associated with the unspeakable horrors of the Nazi Holocaust, the genocide of religious minorities throughout Europe, and the forces of white supremacist racial hatred.

Marine sniper's rifle-stock sporting Himmler's Schutzstaffel, the SS Icon The fact that United States service personnel were caught proudly posing with the emblem of the Nazi SS, which symbolizes the vile ideology of Hitlerian fascism, sends a menacing signal to religious minorities within the United States Armed Forces. The symbol’s usage conveys a message that the U.S. Military is an organization within which white supremacists can feel at home, free to espouse their murderous ideology and proudly don their symbols of hatred.

This brazen display of a symbol which is synonymous with death squads, gas chambers, and brutal occupation reflects a sociopathic, marauding attitude which violently jars with the supposed "nation-building" efforts which the NATO forces have embarked upon. It exacerbates the anti-Americanism felt by the people of the region who we claim to be helping in the context of a UN-mandated, NATO-led security mission.
Closer look at Marine scout sniper, right, with an "SS"
marked on his rifle in this 2004 photo
In short, this shameful display of SS "lightning bolts" by U.S. service personnel enrages our regional allies, emboldens the extremist Islamist forces with whom we are contending, and eviscerates good order, morale, and discipline within the U.S. Marine Corps. The Military Religious Freedom Foundation immediately calls for the leadership of the United States Military to condemn this stomach-turning display without equivocation or delay and severely punish ALL of those responsible.
Michael L. "Mikey" Weinstein, Esq.
Founder & President
Military Religious Freedom Foundation

Sep 27, 2011

On Mikey Weinstein

Clause 3, Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution
Mikey Weinstein, founder and president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), keeps up the fight for religious freedom.

Latest note of Christian love is below from an e-mail. It's a step up from death threats.

Memo affirms religious neutrality of U.S. military
Mikey Wineshit you defile our neighborhood with your little road sign? the filth of your Christ hating horde of leftist jew-cowards and Christian pretenders is sad for America
The good Christian refers to a MRFF billboard depicting the memo of General Norton Schwartz, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force.

Quoting from Gen Schwartz' watershed edict on “Maintaining Government Neutrality Regarding Religion,” the billboard was sited in Colorado Springs where the controversial U.S. Air Force Academy is located.

The Academy has a history of anti-Semitism and official embracing of Christian Dominionism, which led Mikey Weinstein, a former cadet, to found the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF).

USAF Academy Superintendent Michael Gould has slow-walked the dissemination of the memo in keeping with his history of defending what Gould apparentally regards as encroachments onto his Christian territory.

MRFF took this "extraordinary action in direct reaction to USAF Academy Superintendent Michael Gould’s astonishing refusal to distribute Gen. Schwartz’s directive to all Academy personnel under his command."

Sep 14, 2011

USAF Chief Affirms No Religious Test Policy for Military

 Clause 3, Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution

In the wake of an exclusive report in Truthout [Leopold] last July revealing that for two decades the Air Force used Bible passages, religious imagery and NAZI citations to instruct nuclear missile officers on the morality of launching nuclear weapons, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz issued a policy memorandum sent Tuesday to all major commands that affirms the No Establishment Clause, the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, as well as Clause 3, Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution specifically prohibiting a religious test for public office and trust.

The policy is a victory against the efforts of a pervasive force in the military, political-religious dominionism, a Chistitian nationalist movement seeking to institute its version of authoritarian Christianity, that endorses theocratic visions of "biblical law," codified in major spheres of American society, most troubling in the U.S. military."

Mikey Weinstein, the President and Founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation that works to ensure religious freedom for all U.S. service members broke the story with writer, Jason Leopold, with a religiously-oriented PowerPoint training presentation and Air Force documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Weinstein, perhaps dominionism's most visible enemy for his dedication to civil rights and pluralism, is known as the "constitutional conscience of the U.S. military," and is recognized as the MRFF site notes as "the undisputed leader of the national movement to restore the obliterated wall separating church and state in the most technologically lethal organization ever created by humankind: the United States armed forces," a designation that brings his family, friends and Weinstein routine death threats, or mundanely prayers that he be killed or consigned to hell.

Weinstein reacted to Gen. Schwartz' memorandum, "Maintaining Government Neutrality Regarding Religion" with the following statement:
General Schwartz deserves significant kudos and comprehensive congratulations for being THE most senior Pentagon official to date to ever send this strong a mandate of Constitutional religious compliance to our United States armed forces members. While MRFF wishes that such a letter had been sent by the Chief of Staff of the Air Force a very long time ago, the old adage 'better late than never' most certainly applies. While this letter may not be a home run, it is a damn good line drive single to potentially start a rally of Constitutional religious freedom compliance, which has been scandalously lacking in the entire Defense Department for decades. Gen. Schwartz has the U.S. Air Force at least now 'talking the talk.' Whether the USAF can 'walk the walk' will depend upon many factors, not the least of which is whether ANYONE in the Air Force is EVER punished for violating its clear mandates of Constitutional recognition for BOTH the No Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause of the Bill of Rights' First Amendment. To that end, we must all remember that while the First Commandment says, 'You can't have any other Gods before Me,' the First Amendment says, 'Oh yes you can!'
Below is the text of Gen. Schwartz' memorandum.

MEMORANDUM FOR ALMAJCOM-FOA-DRU/CC

FROM: HQ USAF/CC
1670 Air Force Pentagon
Washington, DC 20330-1670

SUBJECT: Maintaining Government Neutrality Regarding Religion

Leaders at all levels must balance Constitutional protections for an individual’s free exercise of religion or other personal beliefs and its prohibition against governmental establishment of religion. For example, they must avoid the actual or apparent use of their position to promote their personal religious beliefs to their subordinates or to extend preferential treatment for any religion. Commanders or supervisors who engage in such behavior may cause members to doubt their impartiality and objectivity. The potential result is a degradation of the unit’s morale, good order, and discipline.

Chaplain Corps programs, including activities such as religious studies, faith sharing, and prayer meetings, are vital to commanders’ support of individual Airmen’s needs and provide opportunities for the free exercise of religion. Although commanders are responsible for these programs they must refrain from appearing to officially endorse religion generally or any particular religion. Therefore, I expect chaplains, not commanders, to notify Airmen of Chaplain Corps programs.

Our chaplains are trained to provide advice to leadership on matters related to the free exercise of religion and to help commanders care for all of their people, regardless of their beliefs. If you have concerns involving the preservation of government neutrality regarding religious beliefs, consult with your chaplain and staff judge advocate before you act.

NORTON A. SCHWARTZ
General, USAF
Chief of Staff

Apr 26, 2011

Franklin Graham Continues Bigotry and Exclusion, Aimed at Pres. Obama

The despicable Franklin Graham was properly skewered on the Lawrence O'Donnell show last night for spouting Birther nonsense, continuing the long Graham tradition of bigotry and ignorance.

Now, Graham is rolling out the true nature of the Other occupying the oval office as the GOP searches for its candidate with the right combination of racism and dedication to dismantlement of anything not corporate or fundamentalist.

In a well-publicized rebuke last year [thanks to the work of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and Mikey Weinstein], Graham—a dedicated anti-Semitic Dominionist Christian—was disinvited to the National Day of Prayer ceremony at the Pentagon.



But Graham needs no incentive from President Obama or those Christ-killing Jews to inflame his flock of bigots afraid of the scary black man looking like a lock for four more years.

Muslims, Jews, and assorted disbelievers of Graham's brand of mythology are all destined to be judged and not very well, Graham assures us, as he raves on in his old-fashioned xenophobic vein of hatred to save America as a Christian nation.

All the unbelievers can go to hell.

Thank you Lawrence O'Donnell. Graham stands exposed for all to see.

Just wish everybody were watching. O'Donnell has really found his voice as he pounds the ignorance that is a prerequisite for the 2012 GOP presidential nominee.

Dec 19, 2010

"Impotent little mouse of a Jew"

Seems that many self-professed Christians are less than thrilled with the efforts of Mikey Weinstein, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and its allies working to ensure that the U.S. Military functions as a secular force welcoming to all Americans of all faiths.MAL Contendshas often featured the work of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) and its executive director Mikey Weinstein, the constitutional conscience of the American military, to present the danger of the war-all-the-time fundamentalist sects of the Christian religion who would deny First Amendment rights to the wrong kind of Christian, Wiccans, Muslims and various other religions out of favor with Christian Dominionists.

Following is an e-mail from some anti-Semitic nut, followed by a rebuttal by MRFF's Rick Baker and Air Force veteran David Horn.
Subject: RE: MRFF Featured by The Huffington Post - Christian Air Force Officer Vows to Violate Military Regulations if DADT is Repealed

You know, Mickey, I've been rethinking your request for me to keep your family out of this. Because of my ethical standards, I at first acquiesced. However, after reading article after article after article where you are quoted using your son, your wife, your daughter-in-law, you son's estranged father-in-law as pawns and tools in your selfish, paranoid obsession-I have changed my mind. Why should I respect them when you don't? Nope-not gonna comply with your whining and begging. And you know what?- it is because you've already brought them into it- proactively and voluntarily. If you cared so much about them you yourself would have kept them out of it, but no-as long as it helps to enforce your psychotic, self-centered delusions and satiate your evil compulsions you would do ANYTHING, even sacrifice your parents-no, wait...you already have! YOU HAVE NO DECENCY, NO HUMILITY OR REMORSE- NO AWARENESS OF SELF.

Bite me you bald-headed, short, impotent little mouse of a Jew. squeak squeak

BTW-what size shoe do you wear-8, 9...10? let's see if you have enough courage to answer the question honestly. I'll bet you don't.
(name and location withheld)

Response by Rick Baker


If possible please forward this to the gentleman who wrote about your family.

Mr. Name and location withheld,

My name is Rick Baker. I am a former Air Force Officer and a Vietnam Veteran with two tours of duty as a rescue pilot. I am also a regional coordinator for MRFF.

I was a Christian until I read your recent E-mail to Mr. Weinstein. Based on your barbaric treatment of Mr. Weinstein and his family and the growing militancy and Nazification of our beloved Christian principals by those of your ilk, I have decided to rethink my committment to Christianity. It seems Christianity of the sort you espouse has become the death knell of the kind, caring and concerned Christianity with which I grew up.

Your hateful rhetoric has turned a loving Jesus into a sneering, hateful and dangerous wild beast that far more resembles the tyrants of history than the savior He has been made out to be.

Your vile and medieval letter was an insult to all intelligent human beings. The depth of your ignorance is at once disturbing and pitiful.

For a person of your patently dismal character to opine so carelessly on a family that has served our great democracy for generations in the military is a grave misconception and reflects badly on your judgement and humanity.

Your racism is well defined by your statements and your limited intellect is clearly demonstrated by your inability to communicate without the use of vituperation. In short, you are a mindless Christian, racist sycophant with nothing to offer civilization. You are certainly no better than those concentration camp guards who stuffed women and children into gas chambers and burned their trembling bodies during the Holocaust.

You contribute nothing to this world. Therefore you are a non-entity. You need not have mentioned your faith because it was all too clear.

No one will meet you at the gates of Heaven for you will not reach them. There is nothing for you in this world or the next.

I condemn and vilify you sir. And as far as Mikey Weinstein goes, there is impotence of the genitals and impotence of the mind. Mr. Weinstein has sired children, you have not seemed to father any genuine thought.

Beware the Jewish Mouse that roars!

Response by Dave Horn


From the perspective of another former Air Force officer, one who has been working for years with Mikey to undo the bigoted work of Air Force leadership who did not like that I wrote about my non-religious perspective outside work, I, of course agree with Mr. Baker. When I joined the military hoping to serve my country I would never have dreamed that the cowardly and un-American views of Mr. “withheld”, were so common within the Air Force.

With 21 in a row Qual-1 or better evaluations and no disciplinary or other issues of any kind I was grounded, fired from my civil service job and forced to retire from the military as the direct result of my legal expression, outside work that was approved by military legal counsel. My expression in the local paper that airmen should not be forced to pray “in Jesus name” was met with an immediate campaign to remove me from the Air Force by my supervisors. My complaints and evidence that the charges were lies fell on deaf ears as it was easier for all members of the chain to rubber stamp the decisions of those below them. Attending the extremely religious change of command ceremonies of some of these leaders suggested a second reason for their failure to do their duty.

In addition to forcing all of its members to pray, in many cases to someone else’s god, my unit showed religious videos and even PRODUCED videos that called non-religious people like me “idiots” and “fools”. So after having earned a civilian Gold Seal Flight Instructor license and all civil licenses including the Airline Transport Pilot license; after having flown more than 30 different types of aircraft including fighters such as the F-16, after graduating from Euro-NATO joint Jet Pilot Training and passing every evaluation after becoming mission ready and multiple lauded combat tours, I, a combat tested asset with an outstanding record and the support of my peers and many superiors, was forced out, during wartime, after exposing myself as a non-Christian away from work.

I was raised with traditional Christian values. My father was my Sunday School teacher and I sang in my mother’s choir. I don’t see these values reflected in Mr. “withheld’s” letter. I didn’t see them in the misguided religious leadership in my Wing either. From what I’ve read of Mikey’s struggle, this perverse pseudo-Christianity is being taught at the Academy which explains very well how it polluted my chain with principles not worthy of our United States.

I have nothing but thanks and unending respect for Mikey in his tireless struggle to correct a very real problem within our military that threatens the core values of the United States of America. Mikey is a hero. The words of Mr. “withheld” reflect the thoughts of many who wrap themselves in the American flag while acting like Nazi fools. They are everywhere, even in positions of authority in our military. Their words only inspire men like Mikey and more than 20,000 of us who he is directly helping with his foundation to continue our duty to defend the United States of America from all aggressors, both foreign and domestic.

Oct 7, 2010

Troop on Coercive Christian U.S. Military: "I Refuse To Be Part of the Problem Anymore"

- Speaking out against proselytizing Christian Dominionists -

From: U.S. Army Soldier's E-mail Address Withheld
Date: October 6, 2010 1:34:31 AM MDT
To: Mikey Weinstein ;mikey@militaryreligiousfreedom.org
Subject: I Refuse To Be Part of the Problem Anymore
Mr. Weinstein and MRFF [Military Religious Freedom Foundation],

I refuse to be part of the problem anymore.

I am an active duty soldier, with a combat tour in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. I don't feel especially entitled to a hero's welcome or any special recognition at all. However, I feel like I do deserve some basic respect as a soldier, as a person, and as citizen of the United States. I'm not a religious man, though I have the same respect for other's beliefs as I do for my own (religious) parents. Unfortunately, this respect does not flow in both directions.

There have been countless times during my military career that I have been forced to endure the proselytizing of my evangelical Christian peers, and more often, my evangelical Christian superiors. Early in my career, I tested the waters with standing up for myself, and my nonbelief. Every single time, I was met with either indirect retaliation, or direct punishment. As a young, junior enlisted soldier, husband, and father-to-be, I am financially strapped. This factor alone intimidates me enough to bite my tongue nearly every single time. Which makes me part of the problem. If nobody speaks out, nothing gets fixed. I didn't even realize there was a foundation that will speak out on my behalf until I read about the MRFF in a recent news story.

I could expound upon countless examples of instances where I shamefully caved to this intimidation, but I'll just touch on a few briefly for the sake of brevity. Across the board, all soldiers in Basic Training are given the option to attend religious worship services, with many denominations needing to be bused across post for their special needs to be met. These services serve as a 2-3 hour roundtrip of a break from the hectic and stressful training environment. Soldiers who were not religious are not forced to go to these services. However, I only fell for this trick once. If you choose to stay behind, you are not allowed to just rest or even sit down. You have to clean up the entire barracks for the entire time that everyone else is off at worship services. Due to a line of duty injury, I was forced to endure the basic training environment for over 30 weeks (instead of 9 weeks). That was 30 weeks of fire and brimstone speeches that seemed to be more and more offensive every sermon. From what I can tell, this form of discrimination and punishment is still the SOP.

In the recent past, I was approached by a Chaplain who saw me reading a book about biology. He left a note inside the book that denounced the book as 'full of the lies of evolution' and 'do you really believe this stuff? I hope not'. Please keep in mind, Mr. Weinstein, that this guy was an OFFICER and, thus, he greatly outranked me. He signed his name and rank, and offered to 'counsel me' on these matters. I was shocked at this, but I couldn't help but try to handle the problem tactfully myself, and I explained to him that I was extremely open minded and that I wanted to talk to him about this, but only if he would approach the conversation with an open mind as well. We talked about evolution only briefly, and of course it was full of the typical creationist shtick I half-expected from him. But it quickly got... weird. He asked me things like "Are you happy with your life the way that you live it?" I responded "Yes. I love my life. I mean I have a little trouble sleeping, but that's why I love science and medicine!" He abruptly changed his tone, and said "You know that the medicine doesn't help you at all. I am very worried about your spiritual well being now... You see, I am from Haiti, and I used to practice voodoo before I found the Lord, Jesus Christ. I can tell that you have demons inside you that might be from a curse, or from witchcraft. THAT'S what is keeping you up late."

I was floored. It didn't stop there, though. He continued to say bizarre things and use obscure biblical passages to 'prove that he was right' about the bizarre thing he just said. Three hours went by, and I was given two books to learn from, both from Bob Jones University Press. One was called "The 8 signs that you are possessed by demons" or something very similar, which he assured me would save my life. Next he offerred to take me out to lunch, and even coaxed me into 'giving him an open minded chance at his church service'. That was a huge mistake. Halfway through the sermon he asked the audience to "Raise your hand if you are struggling through a tough spot" A few hands went up. "Raise your hand if you have trouble sleeping at night." I raised my hand. "Now I want all of the people who have their hands raised to come up to the front." I obliged. "Now kneel and repeat after me... I accept you, Jesus Christ, as my Lord and Savior..." Can you believe that? He tricked me. I was mortified. I told people in my chain of command about the incident. Nobody recommended any course of action at all. Nobody helped me. I was completely alone and abandoned. I was just forced to let it go. And I did so, with great shame and humiliation, a feeling I will never, ever be able to forget.

Had I only known about the existence of the MRFF, I would have had someone with the raw power, courage and resources to back me up. The U.S. Army chain of command and their 'EO policies' or Inspector General complaint channels completely fail to counter the pervasive proselytizing of the overwhelmingly evangelical fundamentalist Christian chaplaincy and officer/NCO corps. It is regretful that to investigate this so many years after the fact would be a logistical impossibillity. However, I am proud to say that if the same thing happened again today, I know full well that I would have the wonderful support of the MRFF. MRFF is the only true friend a soldier has when confronted with this overwhelming proselytizing madness. They will defend the United States constitution, the Treaty of Tripoli, and the many other legal documents set in place by our forefathers. These are the things that I swore an oath to fight to protect. Only the MRFF seems to fight for me.

(Out of fear of retribution, please redact my personal information for any external purposes)
(name, rank, MOS, military combat assignment, military installation withheld)

Aug 10, 2010

Vets for Common Sense and Relgious Freedom Org Slam Christian Proselytizing in U.S. Military

- Attempts to reverse the Dr. Sally Satel-Dallas Theological Seminary School of Treatment for PTSD—stressing belief in a Christian God over disability benefits and professional medical care—have met resistance from the institutionalized practice of 'Battlefield Christian Proselytizing' and its religious right allies.

Two veteran advocacy organizations are challenging this treatment of traumatized servicemen and servicewomen and the underlying entanglement of fundamentalist religion and the U.S. military. Fundamentalist chaplains are not certified, professional mental health experts, and the shortage of available mental healthcare professionals and lack of treatment exacerbates the service members’ psychological trauma as record suicide rates soar. -


August 9, 2010

Paul Sullivan
Executive Director
Veterans For Common Sense

Michael L. “Mikey Weinstein
Founder & President
Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF)

Dear Secretary Gates:

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) has learned on numerous occasions over the past several years about blatantly sectarian Christian religious programs and Christian proselytizing in the military. The proselytizing is unconstitutional and we demand you issue an order to stop it now.

Our letter addresses a particularly pernicious subcategory of proselytizing that must also cease immediately. The military often substitutes evangelical chaplains in the place of professional mental health care for service members suffering from mental health conditions, especially post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These reports have recently become increasingly frequent and alarming.

Among the many types of shocking incidents and illicit and dehumanizing practices reported to MRFF have been the military's teaching of creationism as an actual bona fide means of suicide prevention; the use of a parachurch military ministry's evangelical Christian program to treat PTSD; service members seeking help being sent to and proselytized by chaplains instead of being sent to mental health professionals; articles in official military publications stating that finding Jesus is the only solution to the mental health problems faced by members of our armed forces; mandatory mental health training inside chapels, plus countless "Spiritual Fitness" events and programs being promoted as mental health solutions.

Perhaps the most alarmingly repugnant stories are those coming in from our recent war veterans regarding the widespread practice of "battlefield Christian proselytizing." When, on active duty, our service members sought urgently needed mental health counseling while on the battleield and with the gun smoke practically still in their faces, they were instead sent to evangelizing chaplains, who are apparently being used with increasing frequency to provide mental health care due to the acute shortage of mental health professionals. Chaplains are not certified, professional mental health experts.

According to the reports of these veterans, the chaplains they were sent to for evaluation and treatment had the unmitigated temerity to urge, as a medicinal cure, a conversion to evangelical Christianity, and sometimes even went as far as disgustingly lacing their "counseling" with the soldiers' need to stay on the battlefield to" kill Muslims for Christ." Even in the best cases, while the chaplains' words of proselytizing may have provided a temporary placebo, allowing these soldiers to return temporarily to combat for the remainder of their deployment, within months of returning home from war, their "temporary religious faith" wore off as their profound mental health symptoms, quite predictably, returned in all their fury. And, again, the shortage of available mental healthcare professionals and lack of treatment exacerbated the service members’ psychological trauma.

For many of our veterans, the severe adverse consequences of being subjected to battlefield Christian proselytizing rather than receiving genuine mental health care have been, to just name a few, broken families, crime, drug and alcohol abuse, homelessness, and particularly, even suicide. While religious counseling may be helpful to some service members, and should certainly be available to those who specifically seek religious counseling, the widespread use of evangelizing Christian chaplains as a substitute for qualified mental health professionals is preventing many service members from getting the serious medical treatment that they desperately need and deserve, and is most likely exacerbating the unprecedented, unbridled suicide epidemic. It's just as specious and heinous as having these proselytizing military chaplains substitute for military combat trauma surgeons.

Another alarming matter is that, due to the heavy promotion by the military of sectarian Christian religious "solutions" to mental health problems, non-religious, even moderately religious, service members struggling with mental health issues or contemplating suicide may not seek the help they need because they think they will just get evangelical, fundamentalist Christianity rammed down their throats if they do.

The improper use of Chaplains to proselytize our psychologically traumatized service members seeking mental healthcare is an unconstitutional, unconscionable disgrace and is a clear matter of national security because it fatally undermines unit effectiveness for battle. Thus, this issue must be aggressively addressed immediately by you and top military leaders. No more suffering and no more suicides will be tolerated. Suicide can and should be prevented, but not at the price of unconstitutional battlefield proselytizing by officers or enlisted personnel – which is of no value. We are not requesting, we are now demanding a direct, responsive reply from you within the next 10 business days about your plans to stop unconstitutional proselytizing of traumatized service members.

Given the shamefully rampant suicide rates in the United States Army, it is likely that at least another dozen or so United States active duty service members, not counting veterans, will commit suicide during the aforementioned period in which we have just demanded to be contacted by you.

Sincerely,

CC:
John M. McHugh – Secretary of the Army
Ray Mabus – Secretary of the Navy
Michael B. Donley – Secretary of the Air Force
Admiral Michael Mullen - Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Sta­
General James E. Cartwright - Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Sta­
General George W. Casey, Jr. - Chief of Sta­ff of the United States Army
Admiral Gary Roughead - Chief of Naval Operations
General Norton A. Schwartz - Chief of Staff­ of the United States Air Force
General James T. Conway - Commandant of the Marine Corps

Jan 20, 2010

Rightwing Christians Free to Leave America

Update: No More Jesus Rifles - After ABC News Report, Trijicon Announces Plan to Remove Bible Codes from Gun Sights Provided to U.S. Military

Dominionist, evangelical Christians regaling in only-through-christ craziness, fighting against liberty in secular America, are always free to leave and form their own Christian colony where they can wage war and try to convert the unbelievers.

We know the religions right has veto power in today's Republican party, bringing us the intellectual heft of Sarah Palin and the Bush-Cheney stewardship of the U.S. Constitution.

We know the GOP religious operative James Dobson's charming Focus on the Family ('hey, beat your children, parents!') and rightwingers' escalation of misogynistic rhetoric in the sporting world, as documented in Tom Krattenmaker's Onward Christan Athletes (Rowman & Littlefield).

But most disturbing and dangerous is control in the U.S. military by the evangelical Christians. We're not there yet, but too goddamn close for comfort. Mikey Weinstein and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) and millions of Americans certainly object. [I told Weinstein in an aside recently that religious whacks genuinely "frighten me." Weinstein's curt, somewhat scolding response: "Scare 'em back. Make them frightened."]

Weinstein and MRFF just broke a major story that the military contractor, Trijicon, inscribed with secret Bible references 1,000s of gun sights used by the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan. Brilliant move, that will assure Islam of American commitment to pluralism and democracy, no crusades here.


As ABC News reported Monday, the sights are used by U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the training of Iraqi and Afghan soldiers. The maker of the sights, Trijicon, has a $660 million multi-year contract to provide up to 800,000 sights to the Marine Corps, and additional contracts to provide sights to the U.S. Army.

As rightwing groups like the Family and myriad theocrats in the armed forces continue their quest for a Christian U.S. military, these stories take on a heightened significance.

Ed Brayton explains why:


Here's a letter that was sent to Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation by an active duty American soldier about those Bible verses on rifle scopes that demonstrates why the issue matters -- and how far the pentagon has to go to rid the military of this scourge of officers who view themselves as soldiers for (the Christian) God rather than as representatives of the United States.

To: Mikey Wienstein and MRFF:

I am a U.S. Army infantry soldier with the rank of (rank withheld). I am married with children. I am stationed at Fort (installation name withheld). I have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan multiple times. I have been awarded medals for direct combat engagement as well as for injuries and wounds received in hand-to-hand combat. I am a Muslim American. My family converted when I was very young. I am caucasian and have a last name that does not sound ethnic.

Therefore, few of my fellow soldiers know that I am a Muslim. My wife comes from a Christian tradition but rarely practices or attends church. I have witnessed terrible religious persecution in the my (number withheld) years in the Army. Most of it comes from ‘angry’ conservative Christians in my unit chains of command and occasionally from my fellow infantry soldiers. I am very familiar with the Trijicon ACOG gunsights and have often had them as part of my personal weapons; both my M-4 and my M-16.

In my first 2 deployments I saw and experienced no incidents regarding the New Testament bible quotes that are written on the metal casing of the gun sights. Many soldiers know of them and are very confused as to why they are there and what it is supposed to mean. Everyone is worried that if they were captured in combat that the enemy would use the bible quotes against them in captivity or some other form of propaganda. As an American soldier I am ashamed that those bible quotes are on our primary weapons. As a Muslim American I am horrified. As one who swore his oath to the Constitution, I am driven to fight this Christian insanity but I know if I try to do so in a visible way that I will suffer at the hands of my military superiors.

I am of low enlisted rank and can be crushed easily. I am prepared to suffer, but I am not prepared for my wife and children to suffer. So I have reached out to MRFF because there is nowhere else safe to go to try to fight this thing of disgrace. There are many other soldiers who feel as I do. Many are Protestant and Catholic and they fear reprisal just as much as I do for trying to stand up to the Christian bullies in uniform who outrank us. But if you try to fight back, you are not ‘asking’ for trouble, YOU ARE IN TROUBLE from the start. And if you are a Muslim American, the hatred is always just below the surface and ready to explode at a moment's notice. After the Fort Hood shootings, it was so bad, even for a low profile Muslim like me, that I had to ask MRFF for help.

Nothing in my first 2 deployments prepared me for what happened with the Trijicon ACOG gun sights during my 3rd deployment to Afghanistan. I will never forget the day it occurred. It was morning and there was a mandatory formation of several companies. A very senior NCO was yelling at us which is not that unusual. He asked a private what it was that he (the private) was holding in his hand and the private said it was his ‘weapon’ several times to which the senior NCO replied ‘and what ELSE is it’?

Finally, the senior NCO said that the private's rifle was also something else; that because of the biblical quote on the ACOG gunsight it had been ‘spiritually transformed into the Fire Arm of Jesus Christ’ and that we would be expected to kill every ‘haji’ we could find with it. He said that if we were to run out of ammo, then the rifle would become the ‘spiritually transformed club of Jesus Christ’ and that we should ‘bust open the head of every haji we find with it.’ He said that Uncle Sam had seen fit not to give us a ‘pussy 'Jewzzi' (combination of the word 'Jew' and Israeli made weapon 'Uzi') but the ‘fire arm of Jesus Christ’ and made specific mention of the biblical quotes on our gun sights. He said that the enemy no doubt had quotes from the Koran on their guns but that ‘our Lord is bigger than theirs because theirs is a fraud and an idol’.

As a Muslim and an American soldier I was fit to be tied but I kept it in. There were many Afghans, both civilian and military, on base within earshot of what was being yelled at us and I can only wonder in shock what they must have thought. This senior NCO was apparently also the head person of a conservative, crazy Christian group called the ‘Christian Military Fellowship’ and made a big deal about the importance of joining to everyone. He told us all that we MUST read a book called ‘Under Orders’ in order to make it through this combat deployment and said he had many copies for everyone. Some of my friends went and got their copies. I refused. Finally, this senior NCO ended his yelling by warning us that if we did not ‘get right with Jesus’ then our rifles would not provide spiritual strength despite the bible quotes on our ACOG gunsights and that we would be considered ‘spiritual cripples’ to our fellow units and soldiers. He didn't say it in so many words, but the message was clear; if anything bad happened in a combat situation, it would be the fault of anyone who had not accepted Jesus Chris in the ‘right way’. I have never felt so ashamed and scared in my life.

I have never hated myself so much for not speaking out. So I thought of my wife and children and endured. Every time I looked at my rifle with that Trijicon ACOG gunsight/scope with the biblical quote from the book of John (8:12), it would make me sick. If I had tried to protest, it would have made me dead. And if I'm dead I'm of no use to my wife and children.

Jan 5, 2010

Defenders of Christ and War

It's takes a sense of entitlement to kill someone, more so to self-consciously prepare to kill someone. Some serving in the U.S. military seeing themselves on a holy mission from a Christian God are up to the task, a little too enthusiastically for Americans who want their country officially secular and substantively humanistic.

Concerns about a growing dominionist Christian movement seeking to control the U.S. military academies and foreign policy persist as America continues its two or three wars in what many fundamentalist American Christians consider a holy battle against Islam.

I'm hoping one episode from last year pertaining to military-dominionist Christians gets cleared up.

Last year, I wrote a piece,
The Crusades, Still Killing for Christ, about the the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) and its founder and president, Mikey Weinstein working for a military free of religious coercion. The piece attracted the attention and comments of one gentleman named "Donnie" who proceeded to badmouth the MRFF and Weinstein.

The funny thing is, this anonymous Donnie bears a striking resemblance in tone and language to one Col Donald P. Higgins, "the key, on-scene, Inspector General investigator for the Department of Defense/United States Air Force in the 2005 investigation" of Weinstein's
charges of religions coercion and proselytizing at the United States Air Force Academy.

Higgins appears a nut who, after investigating
anti-Semitism and proselytizing at the United States Air Force Academy actually sent e-mails to Weinstein last year composed of fabricated news articles mocking Weinstein, prompting a Sept. 2, 2009 response letter by Weinstein to U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. [See Fake, Col Higgins-authored Washington Times Article, and Fake, Col Higgins-authored New York Times Article.]

Same guy making comments to the
The Crusades, Still Killing for Christ piece?

I did on a trace on the Internet Provider (IP) address and this Donnie was commenting from an IP address at the University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton, 1.7 miles from Col Donald Higgins’ home in rural Arkansas near Pine Bluff.

I asked Weinstein about the comments and said, "“If this is [Col.] Higgins, he is one crazy case. I can’t believe the IG’s office would assign Higgins as an investigator looking into proselytizing and religious coercion. Is this the same guy?”


Weinstein didn't know for sure and Higgins refused to return phone calls.

Donnie
responded to a query asking if his name is Higgins with this comment (reading in part):

That is certainly not my name, Leon. Are you a lawyer? Are you going to sue me to shut me up? That seems to be the favored MRFF tactic whenever someone uses facts to disagree with Weinstein or his mouthpieces like you--at least that's the way I read his vicious propaganda.

Thinking this matter might get cleared up some time this year.

- via mal contends

Oct 5, 2009

Wish That Jew Were Dead, Prays Evangelical

Update: Click to view the actual court filing (PDF) and Click to listen to the imprecatory prayers and see the hateful materials discussed in the Dallas Morning News article.

The Dallas-based Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches reportedly wants Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), dead. But Weinstein is not crazy about the idea.

Gordon Klingenschmitt, a former U.S. Navy chaplain, is being sued by Weinstein and his family in a case that could, as Diane Jennings reports in this morning's Dallas Morning News, "test the limits of free speech and prayer."

Underlying the case is a growing fight in the military between those who want America's armed forces to be secular and those praying and working for armed forces that fight for Christ.

Does Klingenschmitt really want Mikey Weinstein dead? Reports Jennings who asked Klingenschmitt this very question: "'I pray the Psalm that his days are few,' he replied." Weinstein reports numerous threats made against his family.

Writes Jennings: "Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said he wants Gordon Klingenschmitt, a former U.S. Navy chaplain, to 'stop asking Jesus to plunder my fields ... seize my assets, kill me and my family then wipe away our descendants for 10 generations.'" The suit also asks the court to stop the defendants – Klingenschmitt and Jim Ammerman, the founder of the Dallas-based Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches – from 'encouraging, soliciting, directing, abetting or attempting to induce others to engage in similar conduct.'"

The full piece can be read at: Lawyer sues to end Dallas group's 'threat' prayers.

Sep 30, 2009

Holocaust Survivor Faces Mortality, Warns of Fundamentalist Control of U.S. Armed Forces

Update: See The Crusade for a Christian Military (Harper's, May 2009).

Most of us when we reach our 80s will relax, reflect and live out our retirements in peace.

Walter Plywaski of Boulder, Colorado, a survivor of the Lodz ghetto, Auschwitz and Dachau won't hear of it.

Mr. Plywaski is using his time to warn of a growing trend in the American military: A stealthy and creeping fundamentalist Christian takeover of our armed forces.

This won't come as a surprise to readers of Jeff Sharlet's The Family, or readers of the work of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) and the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers (MAAF).

At Mr. Plywaski's request, posted below is his letter that he wishes receives the widest distribution:
***

At the age of 80 and a Holocaust survivor, my time is limited and thus I must share my thoughts and feelings about the frightening trends in today’s U.S. Military. The stealthy fundamentalist Christian takeover of our armed forces is a strategy all too reminiscent of what brought about the end of all, but two, of my entire family in German-occupied Poland during World War II.

America’s magnificent and unique Constitution prohibits any sort of religious test for all Federal offices and that most certainly includes our military! America’s founders understood the need for a robust separation between Church and State, since they knew of the terrible events in the new American colonies and Europe caused by the invidious unions of church and government.

James Madison wrote that it is precisely the separation of Church and State which strengthens our citizens' most fundamental religious rights. In the America to which I gratefully immigrated, all religions were allowed to flourish and NONE were permitted to be specifically, or even indirectly, favored or recommended by the state. Personally, through sheer luck and the aid of the US Army, I survived the flames that consumed my family and countless millions; an Inferno that sprang up in Germany, a country which rejected such separation.

There is an ongoing and concerted drive to infiltrate our military by Christian fundamentalists who believe in the superiority of their very dangerous brand of faith. This evangelization telegraphs a Crusader agenda abroad while coercing our military's rank and file to adhere literally to a fundamentalist reading of their Bible. This movement has insidiously spread throughout the military, with organizations such as the Campus Crusade for Christ having unfettered access to proselytize new recruits at our nation’s military training installations.

These extremist organizations also have a strong presence at the Air Force Academy and other service academies, and their reach extends to the highest levels of the Pentagon itself with numerous Flag Officers having been implicated in using their rank and position to spread this extreme brand of religious ideology. These organizations have the stated goal to “win” the military for Christ and utilize individual service members stationed across the world as paid emissaries for him. Therefore we must, as a country, stand firmly behind the Constitution to defeat those who wish to destroy the wall of separation between Church and State within our armed forces and the general society.

My life's experience tells me we must try to defeat the onslaught of fundamentalist Christian theocratization of the Armed Forces of the United States. If things continue to proceed as now, our military could all too easily begin its descent into the American equivalent of the brown-shirted Nazis. History has shown all too consistently the extreme danger that religious militarism imposes upon secular democratic societies when these cede their exclusive right to bear arms and enforce the law without racial or religious prejudices. This time, please, let's not wait until it's too late.

If my words convinced you to take note, then please use your influence to halt the takeover of our precious military institutions. Additionally, please consult with the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) and Mr. Mikey Weinstein, its brave and tenacious founder, (militaryreligiousfreedom.org) and the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers (MAAF). These organizations are fighting to save our country from the creeping cancer of super-Christianity invading our military!

I saw the takeover of a continent and saw humans go mad with hatred and bloodlust. Now I can only hope that Americans will awaken to this danger and put an end to the usurpation of power in our military by today’s Christian fundamentalist fanatics, people who want to turn it into a Crusader Army and therefore their own tool.

It doesn't matter if those who would take over our military call themselves Christian, Jew, Muslim, or Devil worshipers; what does matter is that a democratic society cannot possibly hold onto its freedoms under the guns of a militarized theocracy.

Most sincerely yours

Walter Plywaski