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Friday, November 3, 2017


Thursday, November 2, 2017

"The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) has just been advised in writing by senior leadership at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego (MCRD San Diego) that a new amendment to the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for "Depot Facilities Management" has been put in place as of April, 2017. This new SOP amendment will effectively and implicitly ensure that there is now a special review process for any future religious displays at MCRD San Diego. From now on, all requests for religious displays must be routed through the Office of the Commanding General's Staff Judge Advocate (SJA) to ensure that such requests are both legal and ethical. Prior to this SOP amendment,
there had been no such process in place to safeguard
and assure legal and ethical mandates.

MRFF expects that all such forthcoming MCRD San Diego SJA analysis will fully comply with Constitutional mandates for church-state separation in full accord with the No Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, United States Supreme Court and related Federal construing caselaw and all germane DoD/USMC Directives, Instructions and Regulations.

MRFF commends the MCRD San Diego Commanding General, Brigadier General Bill Jurney, and his senior staff for ensuring that this new legal/ethical review process by his USMC legal staff is now in place for specific review of all future religious display requests."


Marines resolve dispute
over Christmas display at
San Diego boot camp

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Caught in a dispute over a controversial Christmas display last year at the boot camp in San Diego, the Marine Corps retreated.

Marine officials told the Military Religious Freedom Foundation on Wednesday that all new displays and signs on base, theological or secular, would be subjected to a legal and ethical review process, settling a case that had lured the American Civil Liberties Union into the fray.

Before Wednesday's announcement, the Marines had no policy at Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego for religious displays. The new process promises to open a path for a wide array of faiths to display their religions on the base grounds, to avoid unconstitutional favoring of one faith.

"This was never about suppressing Christianity," said Michael "Mikey" Weinstein, a former Air Force officer and the foundation's creator, during a Thursday morning interview. "It was always about leveling the playing field so that no religion felt is was below another in the Marine Corps."

Marine officials have not responded to a request for comment.

At issue was a nativity scene erected last December on the grounds of Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego to mark the Christmas holiday. The lighted memorial was erected near the base chapel and featured statues of the three wise men bearing gifts to the newborn.

The landmark 1971 U.S. Supreme Court case of Lemon v. Kurzman held that government violates First Amendment religious freedom protections if a display's purpose isn't secular, primarily advances or inhibits religion or fosters an excessive entanglement of the government with a particular faith.

A petition was signed by 27 active-duty, retired and veteran Marines. On Jan. 17, the New Mexico-based foundation asked recruit depot commander Brig. Gen. William Jurney for a new policy allowing troops of other faiths to put up similar religious displays where the nativity scene was.


Click to
San Diego Union Tribune


November 1, 2017

MRFF's Dogged Persistence Leads to Equal Treatment of Religious Displays at MCRD- San Diego

A display of the birth of Jesus (also known as a crèche) has been placed relatively near (but not close enough) to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot ("MCRD") San Diego chapel each year during the month of December. While such displays are commonly erected in front of homes and various businesses to celebrate the holiday season, it clearly promotes the Christian faith over other religions – many of which celebrate holidays other than Christmas during the same time of year. On behalf of 27 active duty, retired, and veteran Marines assigned to or otherwise affiliated with MCRD (Marine Corps Recruit Depot) – San Diego, MRFF Legal Affairs Coordinator Tobanna Barker contacted Brig. Gen. William M. Jurney, Commanding General- Western Recruiting Region on January 17, 2017 demanding permission for similar displays honoring the holidays celebrated by other religious faiths. Specifically, MRFF requested approval to also display a Menorah on the MCRD Chapel grounds. MRFF requested a response to this demand by January 31, 2017 in order to negotiate the details of the display and allow for its purchase or construction. The ACLU- of San Diego and Imperial Counties also submitted a letter to Brig. Gen. Jurney on January 17, 2017 requesting that MCRD immediately grant MRFF's request on behalf of its 27 current and former USMC clients to place a Jewish display on the chapel grounds during the next holiday season.

On January 30, 2017, MCRD Staff Judge Advocate J.V. Munoz responded to MRFF stating that MCRD would "take the matter under advisement" to which MRFF responded that appeared to be a dismissal of our clients concerns and demanded how exactly this matter would be taken under advisement. MCRD Staff Judge Advocate Munoz replied on February 10, 2017 that "Your demand to erect a Jewish holiday display is premature...." and maintaining that MCRD operations were in full compliance with the U.S. Constitution, federal, state, and local law "in every aspect". The Staff Judge Advocate also deflected MRFF's demand for an explanation on the meaning of 'under advisement' by claiming attorney-client privilege, attorney work-product privilege, and FOIA exemptions. MRFF President/Founder Mikey Weinstein publicly stated in several interviews that answer was unacceptable both to his organization and to the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

After months of persistence on this matter by Mikey/MRFF, the new MCRD Staff Judge Advocate Lt. Col. Suzan F. Thompson informed MRFF via email on November 1, 2017 that:

In April 2017 the Depot's SOP for Depot Facilities Management was amended to include the following language: "Any display aboard MCRD San Diego must be mission related, temporary, and requires G-4 approval before being emplaced." This language was inserted to create a "process," where previously there had been none. Although not explicitly included in the Order, any request having to do with religious displays (as opposed to simple signage) would also be routed through my office for a legal/ethical opinion. To date, there have been no requests for holiday displays of any type routed pursuant to this process.

MRFF believes that this resolution in regards to religious displays is entirely fair and satisfactory. Furthermore, it is MRFF's profound belief that (in glaring and stark contrast to the multitude of statements from unconstitutionally privileged religious fundamentalist that MRFF is anti-Christian), this resolution allows what MRFF has always sought to achieve for our clients: A fair playing field where, despite the sanctimonious wailing of religious persecution from unconstitutionally privileged religious interests, everyone must 'Share Their Toys' when deployed within all U.S. Military environments.

Click for Background on
MCRD- San Diego Holiday Display

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