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Friday, November 17, 2017



Due to MRFF's Actions, Fort Gordon Admits Their Messaging Led Army Students To Believe Attendance At Christian
"Spiritual Fitness Barbeque"
Was Mandatory, Not Voluntary!

* "I want to personally thank you [MRFF/Mikey] for bringing this to our attention; we will be better as an organization through implementing the lessons learned from this inquiry."

- Col. Samuel G. Anderson (U.S. Army)
Fort Gordon Chief of Staff

*Read Col. Samuel G. Anderson's full email to Mikey Weinstein below.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

"On behalf of MRFF's 43 United States Army clients/complainants at Fort Gordon, Georgia, most of whom are young and very junior enlisted soldiers attending Advanced Individual Training (AIT) School, on the matter of the mandatory "Spiritual Fitness BBQ" event, MRFF commends the Commanding General, Major General John B. Morrison Jr., and his senior staff, for thoroughly and fairly investigating this unfortunate matter and reaching rational and reasonable conclusions and findings. In particular, MRFF notes the stellar professionalism, oversight and competence of General Morrison's Chief of Staff, Colonel Samuel Anderson III, who personally managed the Army's investigation and kept MRFF fully apprised of all of the salient developments as the investigation ensued, via timely e-mail and phone communications. Indeed, Col. Anderson went the extra mile to steward this official inquiry by ensuring that MRFF's clients were dutifully interviewed and given the full opportunity to freely express their unfettered testimony to the Inquiry Officer as to what had transpired without concomitantly experiencing any reprisal and/or retribution.

This official Army investigation found, among other deficiencies, that there had been 'miscommunication' propagated to Army soldiers about the so-called 'voluntary' status of this sectarian Christian religious event. In other words, the investigation found that at least some soldiers WERE, in fact, ORDERED to attend by their Army leadership.

You know, there is a saying; 'Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is completely indistinguishable from malice.'

MRFF trusts the senior leadership at Fort Gordon enough at this point to accept its official findings. That said, MRFF also strongly recommends that those Army leaders at any level in the chain of command who have been found to be complicit in forcing junior Army subordinate soldiers to attend this event be officially admonished and punished to absolutely ensure that such an egregious violation of the Constitutional separation of church and state never again occurs."


From: "Anderson, Samuel G III COL USARMY CYBER COE (US)"
Date: November 16, 2017 at 3:21:21 PM MST
To: Mikey Weinstein
Subject: Final Results- Inquiry into Spiritual Fitness BBQ- Fort Gordon GA

Mr. Weinstein,

As you know, on 19 October, I appointed a Colonel to investigate allegations concerning involuntary attendance at a Spiritual Fitness Barbeque held on 14 October here at Fort Gordon. The investigation is now complete.

The findings determined the intent and guidance of the Senior Leaders and Chaplains was to make this a voluntary event. However, miscommunication led some students to believe their attendance was mandatory. After review of the investigation, we understand why some students concluded the event was mandatory. Although this was clearly not our intent; we recognize that our messaging and execution could have been better.

Make no mistake - we want to do the right thing. Our intent is now to take immediate and long term action to ensure that these types of events are understood by all to be strictly voluntary.

We will now implement recommendations as part of these actions. For example, we will include overall general training to AIT leaders, present and future, that communication for these events must always be voluntary. Also, all written products of instruction from brigade to platoon level will make clear and emphasize the voluntary intent of the event. Flyers will clearly indicate the religious nature of the event. In addition, we will consider making the time of the event after duty hours versus during part of the duty day, thereby, shifting the event to totally off-duty time.

As we have discussed earlier, it was always our guidance and intent for this to be a voluntary event and we will continue to emphasize this, so it is absolutely clear to all involved. I want to personally thank you for bringing this to our attention; we will be better as an organization through implementing the lessons learned from this inquiry.

Sir, I hope this satisfies your concerns. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you.


COL Sam Anderson

Samuel G. Anderson
Chief of Staff


"Investigation into Fort Gordon religious complaint complete"

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Fort Gordon officials have completed an investigation into an incident in which dozens of soldiers said they were marched to an Oct. 14 "spiritual fitness" barbecue and made to undergo fundamentalist Christian proselytizing against their will.

According to correspondence obtained Thursday by The Augusta Chronicle, the investigation found that post leadership intended the event to be voluntary, but miscommunication led some to believe their attendance was mandatory.


"They admitted they screwed up; they admitted they could do this better," said Mikey Weinstein, executive director of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. "It's very unlikely this is going to happen again."

Weinstein said Anderson did a great job working with him to handle the complaint, although Weinstein said he'll push to learn whether those responsible will face formal discipline.

"It's our hope that those that did engage in the misconduct will face some degree of disciplinary action," he said.

Changes being implemented include training for Advanced Individual Training leaders that communication for religious events must always be voluntary, with written materials emphasizing their voluntary nature, according to the correspondence.

Weinstein said the young solders were wise to complain to his organization rather than follow a chain of command through their superiors, the equal opportunity office or a chaplain.

"They come to us precisely because we offer AARP," he said. "Anonymity, action, results and protection."


Click to read more on Augusta Chronicle

Photo by: (Sgt. Ken Scar/Army)

Click for background and extensive media coverage on Fort Gordon's Mandatory Christian Event "Spiritual Barbeque"
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