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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Contact Bekki Miller | (337) 356-8696 [email protected]

MRFF Founder and President,
Michael L. "Mikey" Weinstein, Proudly Honors our
2017 Thomas Jefferson & John Adams
Award Winners

"A decorous and noble idea has the potential to live forever; but, that potential rests heavily upon impermanent shoulders of flesh and blood.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) is predicated on preserving and enforcing the idea of separation of Church and State; it's our mission to ensure the military faithfully adheres to this Constitutional duty expeditiously and without hesitation.

MRFF's Thomas Jefferson and John Adams Awards proudly honor, to the highest degree, a select group of individuals whom have proven themselves, both in tenacity and efficaciousness, unwavering advocates for our Constitutional rights. Religious Freedom is inexorably tied, in spirit and in soul, to the pulse of these individuals whom are brave enough to maintain and further its cause!

The following people have fought to the teeth, alongside MRFF, without monetary compensation, for obligatory enforcement of religious freedom, when our servicemen and women's rights are challenged by the heinous, fundamentalist, Christian Dominionist elements lurking within our own Armed Forces. They've stepped into the line of fire on numerous occasions and selflessly risked their own reputations and wellbeing.

I list below, next to each award recipient's name, several unique attributes and achievements; listing all of their individual contributions would take a book. These awards seek more than to express MRFF's gratitude; through presenting them, we gratefully commemorate the following names and honor their noble civil rights fight for religious freedom for generations to come."

Michael L. "Mikey" Weinstein, Esq.
Founder and President
Military Religious Freedom Foundation

MRFF 2017 John Adams Awardee
Donald Rehkopf, Jr., Esq.

Statement from Mikey Weinstein - "Attorney Don Rehkopf has graciously donated countless hours of his superb military law expertise which have directly and indirectly assisted literally thousands of MRFF clients. Don led the way for MRFF's 'Friend of the Court' legal briefs in one of the most critically important church-state legal battles to enter the DoD domain in decades. Don masterfully handled the MRFF court filings all the way to the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) where he helped MRFF achieve the the exact favorable result we had hoped for. Among many other legal tasks for MRFF, he also authored comprehensive complaints to the DoD/IG regarding fundamentalist Christian bullies and predators fouling our U.S. military. Don's selfless attitude and devotion to integrity and principal, especially when providing precious pro bono services to MRFF, mark him as not just a special lawyer, but more importantly a special human being."

Statement from John Adams Awardee Donald Rehkopf, Jr., Esq. - "I am both humbled and honored to learn that the MRFF has chosen me to receive the John Adams award. Adams has been a personal inspiration for me since law school when I first read about his tenacious and successful defense of the British Soldiers charged in the so-called 'Boston Massacre' in 1770. Adams' defense of those Soldiers was immensely unpopular with his friends and those in the local legal community, yet his fundamental belief in the right to counsel to ensure a fair trial compelled him to represent those Soldiers when no other lawyers would.

The MRFF embodies Adams' spirit and tenacity in its defense of our servicemembers' religious freedoms, to include the freedom from compelled religion, and it has been my privilege and honor to represent them in a case that sought to inject a religious component to our military justice system. Many years ago when I was first commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the USAF, we were told that our oath of office contained our core mission as officers, i.e., to 'support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.' That principle remains my guidepost as a lawyer.

MRFF's underlying principle – ensuring that our military is not subjected to violations of the First Amendment's prohibitions against the 'establishment of religion' as well as its prohibition on interfering with the 'free exercise' of religion – was challenged in litigation at the Supreme Court of the United States, for which I was privileged to act as its legal counsel. There, through its leadership, MRFF sought to 'support and defend the Constitution' and thus preserve the rights of all our servicemembers to include those perhaps most unpopular, those seeking freedom from any and all religions.

Clarence Darrow, a great defense lawyer like Adams once said, 'You can only protect your liberties in this world by protecting the other man's freedom.' MRFF continues to protect our servicemembers' religious freedoms and I am grateful for the opportunity to represent them and the Constitutional liberties they seek to enforce and protect."


MRFF 2017 Thomas Jefferson Awardee
Quentin Collins CH (COL-R)

Statement from Mikey Weinstein - "Retired Army Chaplain Quentin Collins is simply one of the most inspirational and courageous individuals I have ever met. He is a TRUE 'combat chaplain' having been in the thick of hellish fights 'downrange in the desert', saving armed forces members' lives, providing his military charges with the very epitome of excellence in guidance, counseling and a plethora of other critical things. He is a devout believer in the Gospel of Jesus Christ but also fully understands that, in America, and especially in its armed forces, NO faith tradition or paradigm, or even any lack of faith tradition or paradigm, is to be given preference or favoritism over any other. Now that he has retired with a chest full of richly deserved combat and non-combat military awards and decorations as a Full Colonel, our military will miss him, but DoD's loss is MRFF's gain as he is truly one of our most active and outstanding MRFF Advisory Board Members. All of MRFF is saluting you, Quentin!"

Statement from Thomas Jefferson Awardee Quentin Collins CH (COL-R) - "When I was informed that I had been selected as the Thomas Jefferson Award Recipient I was honestly shocked, surprised and humbled. MRFF was first introduced to me when I was an acting Wing Chaplain. The introduction portrayed the group as anti-everything but specifically anti-Christian. So as anyone would assume I did the only thing any military officer should do - study 'the enemy'. The more I studied the more I realized that there was a nefarious intent on the part of those 'concerned' Religious Right members. Ironically my endorsing group has been considered very conservative and right wing leaning so I was considered an abnormality when I befriended Mikey. When I retired I became a National Advisory Board Member for MRFF due to my desire to ensure Religious Liberty for all people in the military. So with a humble heart I thank MRFF and all those involved in the selection process. I look forward to helping more in the future as we constantly keep people honest to the Constitutional Challenge of Free Exercise thereof."


MRFF 2017 John Adams Awardee
Senior Retired Military Officer "XX"

Senior Active Duty Officer XStatement from Mikey Weinstein - "Senior Retired Military Officer 'XX' has gifted MRFF and its tens of thousands of clients with his nonpareil legal expertise and can-do fighting spirit in support of the Constitutionally-mandated separation of Church and State in America's armed forces. Having served at extremely high levels in DoD, this terrific and valiant individual has played titular roles in helping to craft DoD policies and regulations, from both legal and practical perspectives, to preserve and guarantee the precious First Amendment civil rights of our country's honorable service personnel. He has significantly and most generously helped to hone and edit MRFF Congressional testimonies and related official filings and has worked tirelessly to do 'what is right' to ensure the appropriate balance between the 'Free Exercise Clause' and the 'No Establishment Clause' of the First Amendment. He has provided his sagacious legal advice and counsel without charge. MRFF and our nation owe him a debt of gratitude which can never be paid in full."

Statement from John Adams Awardee Senior Retired Military
Officer "XX" -
"I am immensely humbled to receive this award. I remained on active duty for over three decades because I believed America's all-volunteer military was America's best hope to safeguard and retain its freedoms in a world often hostile to the very idea of freedom. The vast majority of military members I met on active duty were true patriots, and I was honored to serve with them. Their values were, and are, second to none. I was privileged to work with and for, and to supervise, true American heroes, who believed that freedom as an American citizen in uniform includes the right to choose one's religion or to choose no religion at all.

Yet, occasionally some misguided military members believe that they are called by a higher power to ignore their oath of office to 'protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic' in order to proselytize their religious views to their subordinates, who are not of their particular religious faith or who have no religious faith. These misguided 'leaders' degrade good order and discipline in their units and, as a result, grossly fail to follow their oath to support and defend the Constitution. They justify their actions by falsely claiming that they have a right of religious freedom to inflict their religious beliefs on others and a right to use their rank and their government position and office to satisfy their misguided belief in a supposed religious freedom to proselytize their subordinates. They choose to ignore the Constitution's First, and its greatest, Amendment, which protects every citizen's personal right to believe as he or she chooses and which prevents the establishment of any particular religious belief by a government supervisor or by a military commander. These misguided leaders seek to erode the religious liberties of subordinates, by falsely claiming a right to inflict their beliefs on them. This is pure sophistry. They are the enemy within. When they acted on their desire to convert military subordinates to their religious beliefs, they abandoned their oath of office.

The MRFF stands in opposition to these misguided leaders who violate their subordinates' Constitutional liberties and who, as a result, degrade good order and discipline in America's Armed Forces. If you're inclined to pray, pray for freedom from supervisors and commanders who force their religious views on others, especially their military subordinates. If your prayer does not come true and you fall victim to a proselytizing commander or supervisor, seek relief from your commander's commander, file an IG or Congressional complaint, or call the MRFF and ask for help. There are many good people who will support your First Amendment rights. With your help, America's Armed Forces will continue to serve as an example for other nations to emulate."


MRFF 2017 Thomas Jefferson Awardee
Senior Active Duty Military Officer "YY"

Senior Active Duty Officer YStatement from Mikey Weinstein - "Senior Active Duty Military Officer 'YY' has been a brilliantly enlightened, courageous and fiercely supportive member of our U.S. armed forces for many years. His unwavering devotion and loyalty to the United States Constitution are not merely 'words' but clearly discernible deeds from this amazing officer. He has held very senior positions in our nation's armed forces and has never failed to uphold the bedrock American principles of separation of Church and State. He serves as a truly inspirational example to all of those he works with whether they are his subordinates or superiors. He is the verbal antidote to military 'careerism' and places his devotion to duty above smarmy opportunism. His character and integrity are infectious and if we had just a few more stellar senior armed forces officers like 'YY', MRFF's slate of civil rights complaints against fundamentalist Christians would be considerably reduced. Sadly, and I am forlorn to say it, 'YY''s rarified level of Constitutional compliance and comprehension too often makes him 'one in a million'."

Statement from Thomas Jefferson Awardee Senior Active Duty Military Officer "YY" - "I intersected with MRFF almost by accident a number of years ago and was initially skeptical about the need for such an organization. After repeated examples of both active dominionism and passive promotion of religion, I saw the need. If there's any question whether or not MRFF is relevant and critical even in 2017, the fact that I--a senior officer--am represented by a silhouette and a pseudonym should put the question to rest.

I look forward to the day when active duty supporters of MRFF can do so without fear of blowback, but I'm afraid that day is far, far away. In the meantime, I'll keep pushing my organizations and the leaders in them to remember there is no religious test required to serve and the supreme law of our service is the Constitution of the United States.

It's a true privilege to assist MRFF and the indefatigable Mikey whenever I can. I don't feel any of my small contributions merit this recognition, but I am grateful and I look forward to many more years of contributing to this critical cause."


MRFF 2017 Thomas Jefferson Awardee
Senior Retired Military Officer "ZZ"

Senior Active Duty Officer XStatement from Mikey Weinstein - "Senior Retired Military Officer 'ZZ' has an amazing record of effusive Constitutional First Amendment support which closely parallels that of 'YY', above. He has held a vast array of extremely senior military positions and has commanded tens of thousand of military subordinates over his decades of service to our country. Wherever he was stationed, he was adamant about protecting the religious (or non-religious) civil rights of ALL those he was responsible for and, in so doing, profoundly affected the lives of those legions he was stewarding as their Commander. He is the very epitome and embodiment of the old maxim, 'do as I do'. He 'walks the talk'. His admiration for the priceless value of Church-State separation has never interfered with his own deeply held Christian faith convictions. While he was on active duty, 'ZZ' worked closely with MRFF on many case complaints over the passing years which often provided extraordinary exigency to their successful resolution. Unfortunately, his peerless leadership is no longer available inside of DoD. However, 'ZZ' to this very day is still tirelessly working to better our country and his wise counsel and support to MRFF are DEEPLY appreciated"

Statement from Thomas Jefferson Awardee Senior Retired Military Officer "ZZ" - "I am honored to be selected for MRFF's Thomas Jefferson Award for 2017. The work MRFF does to protect and support our military members against unwanted and improper proselytizing has made a huge difference for thousands of our service members, and I am grateful for their work!

It is very rewarding to help those who don't understand, suddenly see the 'light come on' when they finally 'get it' and adopt the proper balance of their official duties with their spiritual beliefs. As a person of deep Christian faith, I believe this balance is the key to preserving and protecting the freedoms we all cherish.

Unfortunately, there are still those who can't or won't live within these Constitutional boundaries. So the MRFF's work continues. My hat is off to Mikey and his team for their perseverance in the face of hate and ignorance. I hope and pray for the day when his team's work is no longer necessary. Until then, we will remain vigilant and continue to fight the good fight!"

Previous Thomas Jefferson Award Winners

Edward Asner Activist/Actor
William E. Barker (in memoriam), USMC Major (Ret.),
Fmr. MRFF Board Member
Larry Buck Philanthropist
Michael Challman MRFF Volunteer
Barry Fagin, Ph.D.
Sam Fairchild Industrialist
Mike Farrell Activist/Actor
Chris Hedges Journalist/Activist
Steve Israel US Congressman
Jason Leopold Investigative Journalist
Vincent and Cynthia Lindenmeyer MRFF Supporters
Randal G. Mathis Attorney
Gene Nichol Renowned Educator
James E. Parco, Ph.D.
Jeff Sharlet Author/Journalist
Joan Slish MRFF Ad. Board Member
Elizabeth Sholes California Council of Churches IMPACT Director
of Public Policy
John Whiteside Activist/Philanthropist
William B. Wiener, Jr. Philanthropist
Lawrence B. Wilkerson Fmr. Chief of Staff to Sec. of State Colin Powell
& MRFF Ad. Board Member
Joseph C. Wilson IV Ambassador (Ret.) & MRFF Board Member
Pam Zubeck Investigative Journalist
Senior Active Duty Officer X
Senior Active Duty Officer Y
Senior Active Duty Officer Z

Previous John Adams Award Winners

Robert V. Eye Attorney
Pedro L. Irigonegaray Attorney & MRFF Ad. Board Member
Randal G. Mathis Attorney

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Article by Former 2007 MRFF Thomas Jefferson Award & Pulitzer Prize Winner Chris Hedges on Truthdig – "Trump and the Christian Fascists"

Donald Trump’s ideological vacuum, the more he is isolated and attacked, is being filled by the Christian right. This Christianized fascism, with its network of megachurches, schools, universities and law schools and its vast radio and television empire, is a potent ally for a beleaguered White House. The Christian right has been organizing and preparing to take power for decades. If the nation suffers another economic collapse, which is probably inevitable, another catastrophic domestic terrorist attack or a new war, President Trump’s ability to force the Christian right’s agenda on the public and shut down dissent will be dramatically enhanced. In the presidential election, Trump had 81 percent of white evangelicals behind him. [...]

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