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Monday, May 22, 2017


Award winning veteran investigative journalist and author Nina Burleigh's Homepage article exclusive
to Newsweek from MRFF


Monday, May 22, 2017

Donald Trump's election has led to such a steep rise in fundamentalist Christian evangelizing and religious bigotry in the U.S. armed forces that the matter is reaching the level of a "national security threat," according to information shared exclusively with Newsweek by an organization that represents and advocates for secular and minority religious views in the military.

The number of complaints from servicemen and -women in the Army, Air Force, Marines and other service branches to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation has doubled in number since November 2016, according to lawyer Michael "Mikey" Weinstein, a former Air Force officer who founded the organization.


"With the advent of Trump as the commander in chief of our armed forces, MRFF has experienced a massive influx of new military and civilian personnel complaints of religion-based prejudice and bigotry, most of them coming from non-fundamentalist Christians being persecuted by their military superiors for not being 'Christian enough,'"Weinstein tells Newsweek.

He says noncommissioned officers at one Air Force base reported that their superiors told them Trump would make it USAF policy that in order for "disbelieving Jews" to be allowed into the USAF or deemed fit for promotions, they would have to show via objectively established behavior that they were at least honestly "considering the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ."


The military recently backtracked on an edict requiring thousands of married couples in a marital program called "Strong Bonds" to participate in Protestant prayer sessions. As of 2014, more than 37,000 Army personnel participated in the Strong Bonds program. On May 19, Brigadier General Christian Rofrano told the MRFF via email that the complaints had been heard. "Presently, the Air National Guard leadership is in the process of rescinding and re-issuing its program guidance," Rofrano wrote.


The U.S. military has long been seeded with radical Christian fundamentalists—sometimes called Christian Dominionists or Christian Reconstructionists—who believe a "Warrior Jesus" has their backs while they fight against Islam. They believe they are establishing a "Kingdom of God" on earth, starting with the United States, and are predictably anti-LGBT and unfriendly to females among their ranks.

The MRFF was founded in 2006 by Weinstein to counter that spread and advocate for broad religious freedom and freedom from religion within the military. More than 50,000 complaints have been filed with the foundation, the vast majority coming from Protestants offended by being hectored with radical interpretations of their own religion. Since last November, there's been a spike in anti-Semitism and attacks on minority religious views.


Click to read more on Newsweek

Inbox logo

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.

Click to view MRFF's Inbox

"Thank you for enabling religious military worship!"

From: Chaplain, USAF (name, rank, location withheld)
Date: May 19, 2017 at 5:55:14 PM EDT
To: Mikey Weinstein
Subject: Thank You for Enabling Religious Freedom!

Dear Mr. Weinstein and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation,

"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."

– Spock, Star Trek, The Wrath of Kahn (1982).

"We do not count heads before enforcing the First Amendment."

– Justice Sandra Day O'Conner, McCreary Co. v. ACLU, 545 U.S. 844 (2005).

1. I cannot thank the Military Religious Freedom Foundation ('MRFF") enough for the expedient, professional, and confidential manner in which you recently advocated on behalf of myself on other military families who were denied the right to practice our religious beliefs.

2. As an Air Force chaplain, I was disturbed when guidance from higher headquarters set forth standards that established a Protestant worship service as the only permissible service at a certain official military family event. The regulation upset many military families—primarily Catholic families—who felt excluded from the event. Unfortunately, all were fearful of utilizing the chain of command; no doubt due to prior negative experience. I contacted the only people whom I was certain could help. I called the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.

3. Years ago, I voiced a concern to a senior chaplain about a regulation that placed an unnecessary burden on Catholic couples who wanted to marry at the base chapel. The senior chaplain, a colonel, told me that "the needs of the many must outweigh the needs of the few," a line from the movie Star Trek. When I voiced my concerns about the most recent discriminatory provision at the military family program to Mr. Weinstein, he quoted a Supreme Court Justice who stated "we don't count heads before enforcing the First Amendment."

4. When faced with a Constitutional issue, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation quoted the United States Supreme Court; the colonel quoted Star Trek. When faced with a First Amendment issue, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation cited seminal jurisprudence; the colonel cited a movie.

5. I cannot adequately express the speed, confidentiality, and efficacy of the MRFF's work. Within hours after notifying Mr. Weinstein of the discriminatory regulation, MRFF sprung into action.  That very same day, a four-star general initiated an investigation into the offending guideline, which ultimately rescinded the instruction and resolved the issue in an amicable, favorable, and confidential manner.

6. The Military Religious Freedom Foundation certainly promotes the constitutional right to be free from religion. But what many do not realize is that the MRFF equally promotes the right to practice religion. The regulation at issue predominantly affected Christian families who did not belong to the majority Protestant denomination. The Military Religious Freedom defends the worship rights of those without a voice. Thank you for reminding me that "we do not count heads before enforcing the First Amendment!"


Chaplain, USAF (name, rank, location withheld)

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