March 2012          

Message From MRFF President and Founder Mikey Weinstein

Mikey WeinsteinValued MRFF supporters,

Spring has barely arrived, and the year 2012 is proving itself to be one of MRFF's busiest, most vibrant periods since our founding. Regrettably, this is due to the continued existence and perpetual growth of the evangelical fundamentalist hegemony within the armed forces, which continues to cast a dark shadow on the lives of our brave men and women in uniform.

Events in recent days, however, have shown that this lethal powder-keg of religious exceptionalism is blowing up in the face of our warfighters in an incontrovertibly clear manner. It brings me absolutely no satisfaction to say that the mass burning of Qur'ans at Bagram Air Base was an altogether predictable scenario. It was the outcome of a trajectory which the Military Religious Freedom Foundation have been generating primal screams about since our inception. The diplomatic and military consequences of the incident will be dire, to say the least.

Gaping, bloody self-inflicted wounds now riddle the US mission in Afghanistan. Horrific violence has broken out across Afghanistan and the broader Muslim world in the form of demonstrations and riots. Several American service members have been killed in retribution for the burning of the Qur'an, either by civilian demonstrators or by US-armed and trained Afghan security personnel. Meanwhile, allied NATO soldiers have also been subject to attacks by Afghan allied personnel, creating the political pressures for an accelerated departure from the country.

As of this writing, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales has been charged with 17 counts of murder following an alleged overnight massacre committed in Kandahar province. Military authorities have claimed that it was a lone-wolf operation carried out in the midst of a psychotic episode, while Afghan authorities and witnesses claim that multiple soldiers were involved in the cold-blooded mass-murder. Regardless of the manner in which the vile deed was done, mission leadership in Afghanistan is responsible for this reprehensible incident which entailed the brutal murder of civilian Afghans, including 4 women and 9 children. A command culture which gives license to the utter dehumanization of Afghan Muslims and other religious minorities is undeniably at fault, yet our evangelical fundamentalist opponents seem hell-bent on pursuing a subversive agenda whereby American service personnel are to be indoctrinated as crusading warfighters "empowered by the Holy Spirit."

My new book, NO SNOWFLAKE IN AN AVALANCHE: The Military Religious Freedom Foundation, its Battle to Defend the Constitution, and One Family's Courageous War Against Religious Extremism in High Places (Vireo, 2012), delves deeply and compellingly into this ongoing scourge which has been perpetually eroding and warping morale and discipline within our armed forces. Throughout the past few weeks, I've taken this message on the road via a book-signing and speaking tour across the country, where I've been able to discuss the critical need to restore the long-shattered wall separating church and state. The experience of touring, which connected me with hundreds of MRFF supporters all over the nation, has been both humbling and deeply heartwarming.

Equally empowering is the knowledge that we have provided vital assistance for our dear friend, "foxhole atheist" Sgt. Justin Griffith, in his righteous struggle to host Rock Beyond Belief, the U.S. military's first-ever concert for atheist, agnostic, free-thinking, and otherwise irreligious service members. As I noted in my Washington Post article about the event, "it promises to be a truly watershed moment for all Americans who cherish their democratic freedoms. MRFF and I are proud to stand with Sgt. Griffith against a tide of religious extremist fervor. I will join Dawkins and several others as an official speaker. I will not be promoting atheism or any particular faith. I will be extolling the beautiful virtues of our magnificent United States Constitution and the wisdom of following its mandates of a level playing field for all religious faiths and, particularly, no faith at all..."

Your support allows the MRFF machine to continue pushing forward. MRFF poses a very real and tangible threat to the theocratic fifth column which seeks to hijack the U.S. military. Indeed, our opponents such as U.S. Air Force Academy Dean of Faculty Brigadier General Dana Born-- those who enable and provide "air cover" for the domestic agents of religious extremism -- have even seen fit to launch COIN (Counter-insurgency) against our foundation, our clients and our supporters. Needless to say, we have absolutely zero intention to give up our fight; as long as MRFF exists, the bible-thumping bigots will face an unceasing and persistent exposure of their anti-constitutional efforts. Our ability to effectively mobilize the resources drawn from your support is precisely what keeps the fundamentalist extremists in check. Please make your fully tax-deductible donation today.

Your Eternal Ally,

Michael L. "Mikey" Weinstein
Founder & President
Military Religious Freedom Foundation

MRFF Featured News
March 2012


WASHINGTON POST: FAITH AT THE FRONT

Rock Beyond Belief: An atheist victory at Fort Bragg

by Michael L. "Mikey" Weinstein

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Selected Article Excerpts:

  • The Army base at Fort Bragg, N.C., promoted its 2010 "Rock the Fort" festival as an event for soldiers of all faiths, including Jews, Muslims, and Buddhists. So far, so good, right? But many soldiers of minority faiths at the base felt that the overriding goal of the "Spiritual Fitness" festival was to convert them to evangelical Christianity.
  • This was hardly the first such event on an Army base. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association shopped this concept to several bases beginning in 2009. Each base that took them up on the offer outdid the last in terms of the scale and scope. By the time this tsunami of sectarian exceptionalism hit Fort Bragg, it had expanded to directly target military spouses and civilians within a 90-mile radius and was co-sponsored by the Religious Support Office.
  • As Rock the Fort was being planned, my organization, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, was contacted by many soldiers upset by the scope of the event. A vast majority of the aggrieved were Christians who say they were bombarded with announcements, advertisements and spam mail about the festival. They felt that such a clearly sectarian event was not only anti-constitutional but also posed a critical danger to national security.
  • With the help of MRFF, Sgt. Justin Griffith, an atheist stationed at Fort Bragg, [...] put together his own atheist-themed event called "Rock Beyond Belief." He soon snagged internationally-acclaimed atheist "rock star" Richard Dawkins as the fest’s headliner...
  • As a result of Griffith’s tireless efforts, Fort Bragg finally did the right thing. Lady Liberty is smiling. On March 31, Rock Beyond Belief will take place on the Main Post Parade Field of Fort Bragg. Offering a strong message of Constitutional equanimity, it promises to be a truly watershed moment for all Americans who cherish their democratic freedoms. MRFF and I are proud to stand with Sgt. Griffith against a tide of religious extremist fervor. I will join Dawkins and several others as an official speaker. I will not be promoting atheism or any particular faith. I will be extolling the beautiful virtues of our magnificent United States Constitution and the wisdom of following its mandates of a level playing field for all religious faiths and, particularly, no faith at all.

Click to read full article

 

ROCK BEYOND BELIEF

 

Mikey will be signing books and speaking at this watershed event... Don't miss out!

Click to learn more

 

MRFF OP-ED FEATURED BY TRUTHOUT

Mass Burnings of Korans at Bagram Fuel Anti-Americanism

by Michael L. "Mikey" Weinstein

Friday, March 2, 2012

Selected Article Excerpts:

  • As the streets of Afghanistan ring out with cries of anti-American outrage, one is compelled to pause and reflect on the toxic environment which catalyzed the ugly incident of the mass-burning of Korans at Bagram Air Base.
  • The last several days of furious protests in the streets of Afghanistan have been the inevitable outcome of a culture of utter impunity within the US military. This culture of religious bigotry is fueled by militant, unchecked Christian fundamentalism. Its attendant Islamophobic racism is carefully coddled and nurtured. The result is total disdain and denigration of the values of the Afghan nation.
  • The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) was the first to report past incidents of this tragic ilk, such as the filming of a fundamentalist Christian reality-TV show in Afghan villages. This TV show featured uber-proselytizing missionaries distributing Dari-language New Testaments under the approving gaze, protection and support of US armed forces personnel. There are innumerable additional incidents of such ignominy.
  • Additionally, in the past week MRFF has been literally inundated by a torrent of communications from its Muslim-American military clients further buttressing the disgraceful fact of Islamophobic abuses within the ranks of the US armed forces. Many of these reports describe actions taken in reprisal and retribution for the Afghans’ rage at the Koran burnings.
  • A dangerously contemptuous, arrogant and callous approach to the indigenous Muslim culture serves only the most desired interests of those forces opposing our now decade-long presence in the region. From Iraq to Afghanistan, the militant, fundamentalist Islamists’ propaganda narrative has been one of "Crusader Occupation." However, any impartial observer would be forced to conclude that a fatal attitude of patronizing colonial hostility has indeed been allowed to hijack the US mission in Afghanistan.
  • We must repeat that the real-world consequence of this intrinsically ingrained religious prejudice and bigotry is the loss of service members’ lives and limbs.
  • We are staring into a terrifying abyss of our own making. Were the Korans burned by accident or not? Does that really matter anymore? The following truism is all that matters; any sufficiently advanced incompetence is completely indistinguishable from malice. Ten years of brutal war, hundreds of billions of dollars expended, thousands of lives lost and destroyed, and we still have not learned the sine qua non of that most basic maxim.

Click to read full article

 

MRFF FEATURED BY ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

Church-state issue once again to the fore

Saturday, March 16, 2012

Selected Article Excerpts:

  • Tuesday night should have been called "Dueling First Amendment Activist Night" in St. Louis.

    On the campus of Washington University, the Danforth Center on Religion & Politics hosted the Rev. Barry Lynn, an ordained United Church of Christ pastor who is also executive director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.

    Five miles to the south, Eden Theological Seminary, a United Church of Christ institution in Webster Groves, hosted Mikey Weinstein, a Jewish graduate of the Air Force Academy who is also his alma mater's largest pain in the neck.
  • Weinstein's father graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, and Mikey spent 10 years in the Air Force as a JAG (judge advocate general). As a former lawyer for the Reagan administration, he defended the White House during the Iran-contra investigation and went on to be general counsel for one-time presidential hopeful H. Ross Perot.
  • Weinstein left Perot Systems Corp. after he learned that his son, a cadet at the Air Force Academy in 2004, had been accused repeatedly by other cadets of killing Jesus.

    Weinstein's subsequent complaints to the Pentagon led to congressional hearings, internal academy investigations and new guidelines on religious tolerance. According to the Washington Post, the Air Force's internal investigation 'substantiated virtually all of (Weinstein's) specific allegations" — that the commandant of cadets at the academy taught an incoming class a "J for Jesus" hand signal, that the Air Force football coach hung a "Team Jesus" banner in the locker room and that faculty members and senior officers signed a newspaper ad that said, "We believe that Jesus Christ is the only real hope for the world."
  • Since then, Weinstein's organization, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, has battled the military in what Weinstein called in an interview last week "blood sport."

    "We are fighting a Christian version of the Taliban," he said, a subgroup of evangelical Christians he calls "fundamentalists" and "dominionists" who "have created an internal national security threat" to the United States. He has filed lawsuit after lawsuit, building a gradual case that the U.S. military — all the way up to what he calls the "Pentecostalgon" — is infused to its core with an evangelical fervor.
  • Weinstein, whose organization says it represents more than 27,000 active-duty military, 96 percent of whom are Christian, was speaking at Eden as part of a multicity tour promoting his new book, "No Snowflake in an Avalanche," a title he took from Voltaire.

Click to read full article

 

MRFF FEATURED BY AIR FORCE TIMES

MRFF: AF Academy dean directing counterattack

Monday, March 19, 2012

Selected Article Excerpts:

  • The Air Force is giving "appropriate consideration" to allegations that the Air Force Academy's dean of faculty ordered a campaign against a religious freedom watchdog group and then lied about it during a deposition, according to a letter obtained by Air Force Times.
  • The Military Religious Freedom Foundation has pressed the Air Force to investigate allegations that Brig. Gen. Dana Born directed a subordinate, in writing, to launch a campaign against the watchdog group and then denied it during a deposition taken in December.
  • A March 15 response, from Air Force Deputy General Counsel W. Kipling At Lee Jr., said it would not be appropriate to comment about the status of any investigation, but "I can advise you that the allegations ... are being given appropriate consideration."
  • Born is being accused by MRFF of writing a note about conducting a "COIN" against clients of the religious freedom watchdog group. "In this context 'COIN' is a shorthand reference to counterinsurgency," Eye wrote. MRFF founder Mikey Weinstein participated in Born's deposition, and said he believes that she did not tell the truth when directly asked if she had ever used the term "counter-insurgency" to describe any conduct of students or faculty at the Academy.
  • Weinstein said any such directive would have a chilling affect on the 363 clients his organization represents at the Academy.

Click to read full article

 

MRFF FEATURED BY ALTERNET

How the Fundamentalist Mind Compels Conservative
Christians to Force Their Beliefs on You

Monday, March 19, 2012

Selected Article Excerpts:

  • Good people are willing to subvert the U.S. Constitution and even violate human decency in their quest for converts.
  • Many evangelicals wear their religion on T-shirts and around their necks and on car bumpers and eye-blacks. They hand out tracts on college campuses and stage revival meetings on military bases. They use weddings and funerals to preach come-to-Jesus sermons. In their resolve to spread the good news that Jesus saves, some also do things that are more morally dubious.
  • I spent over 20 years of my life as an evangelical Christian, and during that time these behaviors seemed benign, even laudable to me. Today, as a psychologist who creates resources for former fundamentalists, I find them disturbing. Even so, I am sympathetic to the moral conundrum fundamentalism can cause for genuinely decent people. After I watched the documentary Jesus Camp, a friend commented, "Wasn’t that horrifying?" I had to confess that it seemed kind of, well, normal -- and that I could relate to the woman running the camp.
  • A new book by Mikey Weinstein, NO SNOWFLAKE IN AN AVALANCHE, offers a window into how corrosive the Great Commission can be. It chronicles a harrowing decade in, what is to Weinstein, a fight to the death for religious freedom. You may be familiar with fragments of the story. When fundamentalist Christians at the Air Force Academy began goading and harassing Weinstein’s cadet son, Curtis, they awoke a grizzly bear.
  • Livid about violations against the U.S. Constitution and livid about the personal violations and added dangers being endured by America’s soldiers because of the crusade mentality, Weinstein formed the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF). Since then, thousands of phone calls, letters and emails have poured in from all arms of the services--not only from the academies but from men and women whose lives are on the line in war zones. The MRFF has fought like a cornered lion on their behalf—fierce, muscular and unpredictable—leaving fundamentalist perpetrators convinced that Weinstein and his colleagues are agents of Satan.

Click to read full article

 

MRFF FEATURED BY TRUTHOUT

Blow the Whistle on the Air Force Academy
and Your Dog May Get Poisoned

Monday, March 12, 2012

Selected Article Excerpts:

  • On Saturday, April 23, 2011, David Mullin, an associate professor of economics at the United States Air Force Academy, and his wife went to the Woodmen Valley Chapel to worship to avoid the Easter rush the next morning. During the service, Mullin noticed his service dog Caleb, a two-year-old black Labrador retriever, acting strangely.
  • Two hours later, Caleb was suffering from massive internal bleeding... Mullin immediately suspected foul play. But Mullin doesn’t believe Caleb’s poisoning was the random act of some dog hater; he believes it was a deliberate act of retaliation for blowing the whistle one too many times at his place of employment: the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA).
  • In late January 2011, Mullin and four anonymous USAFA instructors, with the help of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), filed a complaint with the US District Court of Colorado in an attempt to suspend a National Prayer Luncheon at the Academy because the command structure allegedly organized it.
  • Allegations of persistent violations of the no-establishment clause of the First Amendment have dogged the Academy since 2005, largely due to complaints brought by MRFF on behalf of cadets and staff.
  • Religious intolerance has been a problem for [USAFA Dean of Faculty Brig. Gen. Dana] Born as well, according to Mullin. In an email to the HLC, he alleged that Born passed out Bibles during mandatory faculty meetings and published a full-page signed statement of faith in the USAFA newspaper declaring Jesus Christ as her lord and savior.
  • The most damning allegation, however, is that Born told a subordinate to wage "counterinsurgency" against MRFF for its civil rights activism at the Academy. MRFF alleges that Born directed Col. Thomas Drohan, permanent professor and head of the Department of Military Strategic Studies, to conduct "COIN," or counterinsurgency, against MRFF and its clients in his mid-term performance appraisal. On February 1, 2012, MRFF’s attorney sent a letter to Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley demanding an investigation into the organization’s allegations and a copy of Drohan’s mid-term performance appraisal, in an attempt to determine "whether there is a relationship between counterinsurgency ordered by Brig. Gen. Born and the poisoning of Dr. Mullin’s service dog that occurred in his USAFA office in April, 2011."

Click to read full article

 

MRFF FEATURED BY AIR FORCE TIMES

Air Force struggles to find balance on religion

Monday, March 12, 2012

Selected Article Excerpts:

  • You have sworn to uphold the constitution and defend the nation, "So help me God." You’re led in prayer at the start of meetings and events. And you work for a military that keeps chaplains close by to meet your spiritual needs.
    It’s all of those things — and more — that stir the polarizing debate over religion in the Air Force.
  • The debate over what’s appropriate came to the forefront again in February, when Lt. Gen. Ronnie Hawkins, the new head of the Defense Information Systems Agency, gave a presentation at his first commander’s call that included two references to God.
  • Hawkins showed slides listing "Ronnie’s Rules," 18 priorities of which the first and last were "Always put God first, and stay within His will" and "Always remember God is good — all the time!" He told Air Force Times in a statement that the rules have served as his "moral compass" that he has followed since he was a captain.
  • Some members of his staff, offended by the presentation, reported it to watchdog group Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which called for Hawkins to be punished.
  • In September, Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz sent a servicewide email cautioning leaders at all levels to balance the Constitution’s protection of religious freedom and the prohibition on government intrusion.
  • In Schwartz’s memo, titled "Maintaining Government Neutrality Regarding Religion," he warned that leaders must avoid even the appearance of using their position to proselytize. "Commanders or supervisors who engage in such behavior may cause members to doubt their impartiality and objectivity," Schwartz wrote. "The potential result is a degradation of the unit’s morale, good order and discipline."

Click to read full article

 

3/20/12 THE FAIRNESS DOCTRINE – Mikey Weinstein on Fairness Radio with Chuck and Patrick

3/19/12 POLITICKER – Advocacy Groups Send Letter To Eric Holder Asking Him To Investigate NYPD’s Muslim Surveillance

3/19/12 EXAMINER – California pastor claims atheist soldiers are "big fat chickens"

3/17/12 IN DEEP WITH ANGIE COIRO – Discussion with MRFF Senior Research Director Chris Rodda

3/16/12 HUFFINGTON POST – How a Christian Fighter Pilot and FOX News Tried to Stop Fort Bragg Atheist Festival (And Failed)

3/16/12 JEWISH HERALD VOICE - MRFF founder brings the fight for religious freedom to Houston

3/15/12 NPR – The Religious Language In U.S. Foreign Policy

3/14/12 JUSTIN GRIFFITH (AMERICAN ATHEISTS MILITARY DIRECTOR) – Chaplain accuses upcoming atheist festival
of plotting to burn down churches, demands Fort Bragg cancel

3/12/12 BOOK REVIEW - "NO SNOWFLAKE IN AN AVALANCHE"

3/12/12 ROCK BEYOND BELIEF – U.S. Army Protects Atheist Festival at Fort Bragg

3/5/12 COLORADO SPRINGS GAZETTE – AFA diversity awareness imperfect, but it’s trying

3/2/12 COLORADO DAILY – Former White House counsel to give talk on military religious freedom at CU-Boulder

3/2/12 SUBVERSIFY – A Review of Mikey Weinstein’s "NO SNOWFLAKE IN AN AVALANCHE"

2/27/12 TIME – The Koran-Burning Riots: Can U.S. and Afghan Troops Work Together?

 

You can see the above stories, as well as much more, at MilitaryReligiousFreedom.org


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MRFF's Inbox

We at MRFF receive an enormous amount of email both from our supporters and our detractors. "MRFF's Inbox" allows us to share these emails with you. The following is a small sampling of the sometimes vibrant, sometimes vile correspondence which we've received within the past month:

Gift

Canadian weighing in.

Thanks

Trijicon Optics Bible verse

Thanks for "Snowflake"

TRUTHOUT – MRFF Founder and President Mikey Weinstein on the Burning of K...

Re: photo of the U.S. Marine Corps 1st Recon Battalion, Charlie Company

Waffen SS Flag

February 2012 Newsletter: Quran Burnings, Nazi Flags in Afghanistan;
MRFF triumph over anti-Muslim General; MRFF Speaks at Ft. Riley

Your calling for Lt. Gen. Ronnie Hawkins’ court martial

Click here to read the many more emails which MRFF has received in the MRFF Inbox!


MRFF Needs Your Constant Vigilance to Uncover Unconstitutional Religious Incursions in the Military

The constitutional violations occurring in our military are so numerous and widespread
that we can't possibly find all of them ourselves. MRFF counts on its supporters and volunteers --
the indispensable "eyes and ears" who alert us to everything from the most egregious of constitutional
violations to articles we might be interested in.

So, keep the emails coming, and never think that anything is too insignificant or assume
that we might already know about it. You never know -- you might have stumbled into the
next bombshell of a story and not even realize it.

Please report anything that may be of concern to: info@militaryreligiousfreedom.org


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The media outlets referenced in the links above have no affiliation with the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, nor have expressed endorsement thereof. While we make every effort to ensure that news articles pertaining to our Foundation remain available for you to access, we are unable to guarantee that the articles linked above will remain online and unchanged indefinitely