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Tuesday, June 5, 2018

MRFF Information/Contact: (505)-250-7727

MRFF's Activism Results in
U.S. Navy Agreeing to Correctly Attribute Quote to Dolly Parton and Not John Quincy Adams

MRFF's SENIOR RESEARCH DIRECTOR CHRIS RODDA's ARTICLE "RECOMMENDED" ON DAILY KOS

Dolly Parton’s Words to Receive a Biblical Level of Reverence from Naval Intelligence Facility

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

This is one for the ‘you just can't make this crap up' file.

A few weeks ago, an employee at the National Maritime Intelligence Center (NMIC) in Suitland, Maryland contacted the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), saying that they were very disturbed when they saw that a large Bible quote prominently was displayed in a corridor at this facility.

The NMIC employee couldn't send us a photo of this Bible quote because it is in a secure area where no cameras or cell phones are permitted, but described it to us as being so large that it is completely impossible for anyone walking down this corridor to avoid having to look at it — four inch tall metal letters spanning an eight foot wide area over a doorframe, saying:

"I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Nehemiah 6:3 (NIV)"

Like so many of our service members and employees at military installations — including many Christians — this NMIC employee does not want to be made to feel like their military mission is a religious mission, which is exactly what the display of Bible quotes like this in their military workplaces do.

So, MRFF did what we usually in cases like this, which is first for MRFF's founder and president, Mikey Weinstein, to contact the commander of the installation and make them aware that we have received a complaint about the display, and what the problem with it is. In many cases, this is all it takes. The commander realizes that the display is inappropriate and understands why it would bother some of the people in their command, and, depending on what type of display it is, takes some action to either remove it, move it to a more appropriate location such as a chapel, or alter it in some way that would be acceptable to everyone.

In other cases, however, the commander will have a public affairs officer or a JAG respond with some justification for why they are going to allow the religious display to remain. And this was the type of response we received regarding this Bible quote display at the NMIC.

The response came from a JAG, who, after speaking to Mikey Weinstein (who is also a former JAG), sent an email with a lengthy legal justification of why, in his opinion, this religious display is permissible

The gist of this JAG's lengthy legal justification was that displaying a religious item at a government facility is permissible as long as it is part of a larger non-religious display, and the inclusion of the religious item has a secular purpose.

In the case of this Nehemiah quote, the secular purpose that this JAG used to justify its display was that it was a Bible verse that an Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) employee who was killed in the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon kept posted on her bedroom dresser mirror, and that to the left of the doorframe that this large Bible verse spans is a portrait on this ONI employee who lost her life on 9/11, with accompanying text that ends by saying: 

"This quotation from Nehemiah 6:13 (NIV) commemorates her dedication to the ONI mission and serves as a reminder to all that one's day-to-day sacrifices and dedication to duty makes a significant contribution to the ONI mission and security of our nation."

Where is the secular purpose in this? How does saying that this individual's personal religious beliefs "serves as a reminder to all" that their sacrifices and dedication to duty make a significant contribution to their military mission. It doesn't, of course. While this religious quote might have served that purpose for that individual, telling all service members and employees at this military facility this this religious quote should serve that same purpose for them is a promotion of religion, which is the exact opposite of serving a secular purpose.

As part of his further claims that this Bible quote is part of a larger, secular display, the JAG also pointed out that there is another quote, displayed in equally large lettering, similarly positioned over the next doorframe in this corridor. That quote is:

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, and become more, you are a leader."

What struck me when I read the JAG's description of the display of this other quote was that, unlike the religious quote, which includes the attribution to the Bible — and even the specific version of the Bible — this other quote includes no similar attribution. 

The reason that the lack of an attribution for this other quote jumped out at me was that the NMIC employee who contacted us about the Bible quote had told us that had it not been for the attribution to the Bible being included with that quote, they wouldn't have even realized that it came from the Bible. The quote itself isn't inherently religious, so without pointing out that it came from the Bible, it would merely be seen as a motivational quote that could have come from anywhere. So there might be a simple solution — leave the quote, but just remove the "Nehemiah 6:3 (NIV)" attribution.

The next best thing, if they refused to remove the attribution from the Bible quote, would be to add an attribution to the other quote. That way, the two quotes would be displayed in an equal manner, and at least get rid of the perception that the Office of Naval Intelligence is sending the message that it is highly significant for everybody to know that the words of the one quote come from the Bible, but completely unimportant to know who that other, non-religious quote came from.

So, what the hell does any of this have to do with Dolly Parton?

Well, a quick Google search of the other quote returned whole bunch of hits attributing it to John Quincy Adams. Although the wording as displayed at the NMIC and in the hits I was seeing in my search seemed too modern-sounding for a  John Quincy Adams quote, I assumed that it must be a modernized version of something he said. So, we asked the NMIC why they didn't have an attribution to Adams included along with that quote. Their answer was not at all what we expected. They said that they originally did have the quote attributed to Adams, but had removed the attribution at some point because someone had said they thought the quote came from Dolly Parton!

So, after I got over a bit of a WTF moment, I did a real search of John Quincy Adams's writings to see if I could find anything he had written that was close enough to this quote for it to be a modernized version of a real quote from him, still thinking that there must be some reason that it's attributed to him in so many books and other places. But my search turned up nothing from John Quincy Adams that was even close.

But what a broader search for the source of this quote did turn up was that, sure as sh*t, it really did come from Dolly Parton! Although the wording of the version at the NMIC isn't exact, there was no question about it. Dolly Parton was quoted in a 1997 book as saying:

"If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then, you are an excellent leader."

So, the quote should obviously be attributed to Dolly Parton.

But the next email from the JAG said that what the admiral who commands this facility had approved was putting back the attribution to John Quincy Adams — the attribution that had been removed when someone said they thought the quote came from Dolly Parton — with only some kind of note to the side of the doorframe "noting the disputed nature of the authorship."

But at this point there was no longer any "dispute" over the "nature of the authorship." There was now no doubt whatsoever that this quote came from Dolly Parton! 

So, we sent another email to the JAG, making this very clear:

"There may be a bit of a misunderstanding here. It is no longer open to debate whether or not this is a John Quincy Adams quote. It is ABSOLUTELY NOT a John Quincy Adams quote. 

"It is absolutely a Dolly Parton quote, and has nothing whatsoever to do with John Quincy Adams.

"It should NOT be attributed to John Quincy Adams at all, with a reference to Dolly Parton or not. It should be attributed to Dolly Parton and nobody but Dolly Parton."

The next morning, we received the following response from the JAG:

"We'll make sure the quote is properly attributed to Dolly Parton."

So now, in addition to having had a plane named for her by the 134th Air Refueling Wing of the Air National Guard in her home state of Tennessee, complete with her image painted on the plane's nose, Dolly Parton will also have the honor of having her name emblazoned over a doorframe in a corridor in the National Maritime Intelligence Center.

While the preferable solution would have been to remove the attribution from the Bible quote, at least now the message to people walking down this corridor that the Office of Naval Intelligence is telling them that the Bible is the only source from which they should draw their inspiration is somewhat lessened, and the quote they see as they pass that next doorframe is attributed to its rightful source — Dolly Parton.

Click to read on Daily Kos


MRFF CLIENT EXPRESSES DEEP GRATITUDE TO MIKEY & MRFF FOR SWIFT RESOLUTION

From: (name withheld)
Date: June 2, 2018 at 4:35:38 PM MDT
To: Michael L Weinstein <[email protected]>
Subject: Thank you MRFF

I, name withheld, have faithfully served my country for over (number withheld)  years including (number withheld)  years active duty military.  I would like to personally thank Mikey Weinstein and the entire MRFF team for pursuing my case to a swift resolution.   I've previously donated to MRFF to aid in the preservation of servicemembers' First Amendment rights.  I didn't think I'd ever have a case to refer to MRFF myself, but I wanted to support the important work for others.  I have chosen to remain anonymous out of fear of reprisals, retribution or retaliation.

 

I currently work at National Maritime Intelligence Center (NMIC) in Suitland, Maryland.  Recently while a co-worker was showing me how to get to an office in another wing of the building, I saw something that turned my stomach.  Outside the Executive Conference Center, in large (4" tall) metallic letters that stood out from the wall and twice spanned width of the 8' passageway was a Bible verse. "I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Nehemiah 6:3 (NIV)." I was raised a Protestant Christian in the Deep South, but in all the years since I first swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution, I had never come across something so blatantly in violation of the First Amendment in the workplace.  I couldn't believe they thought they could get away with it, but maybe they thought no one would report it because it is inside a secure location.  It also violates the Navy Core Value of Commitment which states that it is the duty of every member to "show respect toward all people without regard to race, religion, or gender."

 

I was shocked and hurt and angry the first time I saw the sign and went back later for further context.  I saw a framed pen-and-ink portrait of a woman wearing a cross and a document to the left side of hall where the words were unavoidably affixed.  The document explained that Angela Houtz was one of the eight members of the Office of Naval Intelligence who died at the Pentagon on 9/11.  It went on to say that the above Bible verse was posted on her bedroom mirror at home to remind her daily of the importance of the mission and her work.  Angela's service and sacrifice are to be honored and emulated, but the key piece of information here is that she kept that Bible verse at her home as a reminder and did not post it at her office. Instead, the list of principles found in her desk after her death include such statements as "care about each other as individuals."  I honor and value the contributions of all shipmates even if (and especially if) their religion is different than mine. We all raised our right hands and swore an oath and would literally die for each other and America. It breaks my heart that one of the thousands of shipmates who work at NMIC felt less welcome or felt like their contribution somehow is less significant because they worship a different god or no god at all when they walked past that sign every day for the many years the sign has been installed.

 

When I first contacted MRFF, I spoke to the researcher, Chris Rodda, about what I had seen and how it made me feel.  Without a photo, she naturally wanted to make sure I was a genuine client and not a person trying to get MRFF to complain about something that is not real.  When I spoke to Mikey a day later, I felt much more confident in sharing my identity and story with him because I was covered by attorney-client privilege.  I typed up a statement for Mikey to discuss with the commander of the facility, RADM Robert Sharp, to get resolution.  After some transferring of phone calls, Mikey was able to talk to a JAG officer at the facility who knew exactly what sign we were concerned about.  The JAG insisted the display was within regulations and promised to send a written response.  A few days later the response did come, and it emphasized that it was part of a display on mission and leadership including secular sources, so they felt it was OK.  I wrote back to Mikey that although there are other displays in the area, paintings and models from Navy history are ubiquitous in NMIC and therefore did not stand out as special.  Chris pointed out to Mikey that the Bible verse was attributed, but the other quote in the same hallway was not attributed according to the JAG officer's rebuttal.

 

The officer seemed open to attributing both quotes to make them more equal in prominence.   Luckily Chris was on the case in this instance as well.  While the officer thought the quote ("If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, and become more, you are a leader ") was from John Quincy Adams, it's first known use was actually a Dolly Parton book.   As a result of all of this diligent research, effort and follow-up by MRFF, the command has agreed to attribute the leadership quote to its correct author–Dolly Parton.  None of this would be possible without Mikey, Chris and the whole MRFF team.

 

(name, rank, duty status, assigned NMIC unit/office and all other identifiers of MRFF NMIC client withheld)

(phone number withheld)

Click to read in MRFF's Inbox


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We receive an enormous amount of emails at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, both from our supporters and detractors.
Through "MRFF's Inbox", we share some of these emails with you.

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Featured “Thank You” Email From Christian MRFF Client: “I Am Evangelical Christian and MRF Foundation Helped Us”

Monday, June 4, 2018

From: U.S. Army Soldier's E-Mail Address Withheld
Subject: I Am Evangelical Christian and MRF Foundation Helped Us
Date: June 4, 2018 at 12:06:51 PM MDT
To: Information Weinstein <[email protected]>

My rank is (withheld). And I am a U.S. soldier in the (immediate unit and higher level unit designations withheld) stationed at Fort (name withheld) in (state withheld).

 
I am evangelical Christian and a member of The Foursquare Church. And have been since I first accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. And was born again as a 7th grader living in (name withheld) California. I have eternal life in Christ.
 
Recently I asked (name and rank withheld) who is my supervisor to help me approach my commander (name and rank withheld) and ask him to stop taking the Lord's name in vain all of the time. I understand that this is the Army and soldiers will cuss. But our commander says "Jesus F—ing Christ" all the time and I and other soldiers find it offensive to our faith in Christ. Our commander says this all of the time and not just a few times a day or night. It is his go to phrase.
 
My supervisor declined to help us talk to the commander and did not say why? But he told us about the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. He gave me a phone number to call Mr. M. Weinstein.
 
[...]

Click to read more in MRFF's Inbox

feckless cunts are Mikey’s bitches

Friday, June 1, 2018

From: (name withheld)
Subject: feckless cunts are Mikey’s bitches
Date: June 1, 2018 at 3:41:15 PM MDT
To: Information Weinstein <[email protected]>

Samantha Bee calls Ivanka a feckless cunt cause Ivanka can’t get her dad to ease up on the criminal spics coming into our country?

You want feckless cunts Samantha? Look at Mikey Weinstein’s daughters and wife.

There the real thing.

They can’t stop Mikey from attacking innocent followers of Jesus Christ in the armed services.

Fair is fair and feckless cunts do exist. But not Ivanka.

Its Weinsteins little brood of feckless cunts.

(name withheld)


Response from MRFF Supporter
On Jun 1, 2018, at 5:09 PM, (name and e mail withheld) wrote:


Dear (name withheld) (odd how your ‘name’ sounds like a ‘Bronx Cheer’; a fitting prelude to your comment which approximates continuous flatulence):

Your insults and cowardly attacks on Mikey & his family are exactly par for the course from the type of lizard-brained, scum-sucking, bottom-feeders who only rise to the atmosphere to expel their foul comments and then slide back beneath the slime under which they hide that you so exactly personify.

Yeah, Samantha Bee was wrong to call Ivanka what she did; especially so since had she wished to be descriptive rather than insulting, she’d have called her a privileged brat of a gilded-age criminal oligarch, promoter of Capitalist exploitation, Zionist supremacy, and the violation of human values in the pursuit of obscene wealth.

And, ‘innocent followers of Jesus Christ’??? Where have you been hiding? Those ‘innocents’ are prosecuting illegal wars and covert murders around the globe under color of ‘national defense’. Were there such a thing as a ‘god’ as you seem to believe exists, they’d all disappear in a flash of sulfurous vapor! The crimes committed in the name of the ‘Prince of Peace’ demonstrate you are either an utter ignoramus, a dupe, or a tool.

So, while you may call Mikey’s family names, the only thing I can see, while reading your e-mail, is a fart exiting an soiled anus.

Fuck you very much!

(name withheld)


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