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Friday, September 23, 2016


MRFF IN THE NEWS
"NO BOYKIN" NOW "NO GRIGSBY"!

Maj. Gen. Wayne Grigsby Commanding General, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Shamefully invited Islamaphobic & Homophobic Lt. Gen. Boykin to a Fort Riley Prayer Breakfast on 6/6/16.

MRFF's vigorous demands led to Lt. Gen. Boykin's removal as the "honored" guest speaker at the
Fort Riley Prayer Breakfast of 6/6/16.

NOW GRIGSBY HAS BEEN REMOVED


Today, Friday, September 23, 2016

Stars and Stripes: "Army suspends 1st Infantry Division commander"

SAN ANTONIO — The commanding general of the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley in Kansas has been relieved only 13 months after taking command there, the Pentagon announced Friday.

Maj. Gen. Wayne Grigsby was suspended from duties and is “currently the subject of an official investigation,” said Col. Patrick R. Seiber, an Army spokesman.

Grigsby made headlines in June following the invitation to a post prayer breakfast for retired Lt. Gen William Boykin, a former commander widely criticized for his conservative Christian and anti-Muslim statements. The Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a civil rights advocacy group that focuses on the separation of church and state in the military, along with others, called on Grigsby to rescind Boykin’s invitation, and the event was later canceled. [...]

Click to read on Stars and Stripes


Today, Friday, September 23, 2016

The Topeka Capital-Journal: "Wayne Grigsby, Fort Riley commanding general, suspended pending investigation"

The Army has suspended the commanding general of the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley – the highest-ranking officer at the facility.

The Army has initiated an investigation into Maj. Gen. Wayne Grigsby, though the nature of the investigation or what triggered it has not been disclosed. Grigsby was suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.

...

Retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin had been scheduled to speak at the prayer breakfast in June. But Boykin came under criticism as promoting a "screed of fundamentalist Christian supremacy, primacy, exclusivity and triumphalism."

Boykin's invitation was pulled the same day after the Military Religious Freedom Foundation threatened legal action to block Boykin from speaking. [...]

Click to read on The Topeka Capital-Journal


Background on MRFF and Maj. Gen. Grigsby

 


WE NOW RETURN TO OUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED PROGRAMMING

LT. COL./JAG ERIC NOBLE OF JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD's (JBLM) LEGAL OFFICE ADMITS INADVERTENT ERROR IN STONE EDUCATION CENTER'S SHOWING OF EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN TELEVISION

Friday, September 23, 2016

After Quick Action, This Active Duty U.S. Army Client from JBLM Gives High Praise to MRFF:

From: MRFF Active Duty U.S. Army Client’s E-Mail Address Withheld
Subject: Thanks again, MRFF
Date: September 22, 2016 at 8:28:23 PM MDT
To: Mikey Weinstein
Reply-To: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

There's a Japanese proverb that I think about often: "The nail that sticks out gets hammered down".

Anyone in the military probably has probably heard that proverb. We JOKE about that proverb.

Our jokes are not always very funny. Why isn't it funny? Because the whole point is that it's dangerous to be different.

The military... well... the military is SPECIAL. At any level of rank, you are put into a highly structured group of people (above AND below you) that you've probably never met before and you have to learn to work together. Also, you move around a lot, and your reputation follows you. It's not easy to regain lost ground. You DO NOT want to be the weird guy. You DO NOT want to be the guy that isn't a team player. You DEFINITELY do not want to be a complainer. You do not want to "stick out", at all.

I could go on about this for some time. Most people outside the military probably don't realize that military personnel are subject to a QUARTERLY PERFORMANCE REVIEW from their immediate superior, called an OER or an NCOER. At higher levels the vast majority of people with any control of career direction DON'T KNOW YOU. They don't see you, they see your picture and they see a stack of these performance reviews. Oh, and they see your ORB/ERB (Officer or Enlisted Record Brief), which by the way HAS YOUR RELIGION printed right on it... but I won't go there.

I won't go into detail about the performance review process, but the end result is that the people around you and immediately above you can have a HUGE influence on your future, and that influence is in writing, and it doesn't go away. And that's just the paperwork side. The fact is that these are people you are counting on to LITERALLY SAVE YOUR LIFE and you DO NOT want to be the outsider, the guy with religious beliefs or political opinions that maybe are not... let's say "politically correct".

What does it mean? It means at a Change of Command ceremony, or a memorial ceremony, when the Chaplain says "let us pray", you bow your head and pretend to pray. You just do it. When they're handing out tickets to the next Prayer Breakfast you should probably take one. The Commander will be there. It will be good for your career. All of these things really happen! It is basically normal for religious events or "Chaplain-led" events to cross the line into being official functions. (Hey, Chaplains get OERs too you know.)

Am I exaggerating? Allow me to mention please that Chapel attendance was official and MANDATORY at West Point until **1976**.

Things change, certainly, but not all at once, and certainly not in what is arguably the most traditional and most conservative public institution in the country. And believe it or not, there are people that want to turn back the tide. Trust me, if you can do it, find a high-ranking Chaplain with a cross on his uniform, like a COL or a LTC and look right into his eyes and say "mandatory Chapel attendance".

Someone needs to do something. MORE IMPORTANTLY, someone just needs to SAY something, and keep on saying it, and no one understands that as well as the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and no one does it as well as Mikey Weinstein. I'm on the mailing list, and I am constantly impressed at the calibre of people that Mr. Weinstein is willing to yell at. Indeed, I dare to aspire that some day (when my military career is long over, of course) that I too might have the courage to call a Joint Base Commander and question his motivations while death threats quietly fill up all my comments sections.

I am also constantly impressed by the promptness (I will even say IMMEDIACY) with which the MRFF and Mikey Weinstein respond to complaints, and above all, I am impressed by the breadth and depth of the network that the MRFF has accumulated over the years. The MRFF has a rare ability to combine the advantages of a broad network with the importance of *anonymity*. (Did I mention that it's dangerous to be different?)

This is a network not only of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Veterans, military families, etc., etc., but it extends quite far into the media as well.

I went from not being sure who to talk to, to actually having a local reporter hearing my side of the story, basically over night, and I really can't thank you enough. (Active Duty U.S. Army Soldier’s name, rank, MOS and unit all withheld)



How it Played Out Between Active Duty U.S. Army MRFF Clients, Mikey Weinstein, Col. Morgan, and Lt. Col./JAG Eric Noble referring to JBLM's Error:

The Email From Active Duty U.S. Army Soldier That Brought This Issue to MRFF's Attention:

From: Active Duty U.S. Army Soldier/MRFF Client E-Mail Address Withheld
Subject: Stone Ed Center
Date: September 20, 2016 at 8:18:02 PM MDT
To: Mikey Weinstein
Reply-To: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

I am an active duty US Soldier stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and I had an unpleasant start to my morning.

I walked into Stone Education Center at JBLM today and *immediately* couldn't help but notice hat the large television screen facing the front doors was trying to teach me sound Biblical principles. I have taken classes here before and I've never seen this television screen turned on until today, so I have to assume it was turned on specifically to display this televangelist's program. To further press this point, an hour or two later when I left my class I noticed it was turned OFF. I just want to be very clear that this was not an accident. It wasn't "left on" and some religious programming just happened to be on the usual station. Someone at JBLM intentionally put religious programming (and no other programming!) on this television screen to greet the Soldiers and Airmen and DoD staff who were testing, studying, or taking classes at Stone Education Center this morning.

I looked up the program after the fact and it was "Through the Bible with Les Feldick". The website for this program says it is "available on cable TV(ION), satellite TV (including DIRECTV and Dish Network), local TV", etc. I don't know and could not tell at a glance which premium TV service JBLM prefers and used to stream its religious education programming this morning, but a quick look through some online schedules shows me no particular reason why the television should have been tuned to ANY of these stations at 0730-0830 in the morning unless it was specifically to watch "Through the Bible with Les Feldick".

I'm not even sure who to complain to, but SOMEONE in charge here clearly thinks this is appropriate and they are doing Soldiers a favor by confronting them at the front door with this "inspirational" programming. To be clear, this screen is not avoidable. Being preached to about Paul and the Gentiles (the "Gentiles"! Really!), as you can from the closed captioning, was not optional. In fact it dominates the main entryway and is visible from both the first *and* second floors, and stares you in the face as you ascend or descend the main staircase. Soldiers and staff would have needed advance warning to park *in a different area of the parking lot* so they could use the less accessible and much smaller side doors and alternative access to the second floor just to *not* have to watch televangelist programming.

To make things worse, no one here seems to know (or they are pretending not to know) WHO IS RESPONSIBLE for this television screen. This is simply not believable. Is it centrally controlled? Can it be turned on and off by satellite, or over the internet? Maybe? I don't understand. No one at the level of the Education Center is being helpful and I am requesting that you please look into this.

To compound things, two weeks ago I found RELIGIOUS TRACTS in every stall of one of the bathrooms in this same building. I thought it was just an aberrant individual, but now I'm not so sure. In retrospect I found these tracts in the morning, and they were already in *every* bathroom stall, strongly suggesting that a member of staff placed them there before the building was open, or at least that a member of staff overlooked them the night before.

Both of these events were probably isolated incidents, but the education center is not a building that the average Soldier uses on a daily basis so for all I know this happens all the time. I'm letting you know especially so that my complaints can be "added to the list" in case maybe there's a pattern and you've heard all this before.

On a different day I *might* ignore this. Obviously it stands out that the US Army creates a culture where I can sometimes find cartoon religious tracts detailing the path to salvation in the stall of the restroom in a government building and I don't even complain... it's not even unusual. But the TV programming is too much. This an education and testing center, right? I have *two* high-stress tests today that will very much affect my career, and this was just one more reminder that as a non-Christian I am less than welcome here that I definitely did not need today. Please look into this because no one else needs these constant "in the background", "dog whistle" reminders either.


Mikey's Email to Colonel Morgan of JBLM Requesting Immediate Resolution:

From: Mikey Weinstein
Date: September 21, 2016 at 9:52:49 AM MDT
To: daniel.s.morgan
Cc: Information Weinstein
Subject: Stone Ed Center

Good morning Colonel Morgan... My name is Mikey Weinstein and I am the founder and president of the civil rights organization called the Military Religious Freedom Foundation... We are currently representing 37 US Army soldiers – officers and enlisted – dependents and Civilians who are under your command at Joint Base Lewis McCord regarding the matter below... 23 of them happen to be practicing Protestants or Roman Catholics... The others comprise practitioners of the Islamic, Jewish, Hindu and other minority faiths as well as atheists, agnostics, humanists and secularists... Sir, what is described below is clearly a violation of the no establishment clause of the First Amendment of the bill of rights of the U.S. Constitution as well as The no religious test prohibition of clause 3 article 6 of our constitution and a number of derivative DoD and US Army directives instructions and regulations...it is possible that you were unaware of what happened yesterday at the stone education center on your installation?... In any event, Colonel Morgan, MRFF would like to resolve this as soon as possible and , therefore, I asking you to please call me at your earliest convenience at: xxx-xxx-xxxx... Please do so prior to 1500 hrs. your time today... Thank you for your consideration, Col. Morgan... Sincerely, Mikey Weinstein


Mikey's Response to Colonel Morgan's Phone Conversation After Issue was Resolved:

From: Mikey Weinstein
Date: September 22, 2016 at 9:23:05 AM PDT
To: daniel.s.morgan3
Cc: Information Weinstein
Subject: Phone Call

....Colonel Morgan, thanks for the return phone call to me earlier this morning regarding the church/state issues at the JBLM Stone Education Center......appreciate you saying you would look into both matters soonest (the sectarian Christian proselytizing TV presentation and the distributed Christian proselytizing “salvation tracts" left in the bathrooms).....please kindly advise.....many thx, Mikey Weinstein, MRFF


Lt. Col./JAG Eric Noble of JBLM's Legal Office, Emails Mikey Confirming Their Inadvertent Mistake:

From: "Noble, Eric D LTC USARMY I CORPS (US)"
Subject: Stone Education Center
Date: September 22, 2016 at 6:38:08 PM MDT
To: Mikey Weinstein

Mr. Weinstein,

Thank you for taking the time to discuss the matter regarding Stone Education Center. As discussed over the phone, the television was inadvertently tuned to the programming instead of its normal news programming and the programming was turned off as soon as it came to the staff's attention as this type of programming is inappropriate for the setting. I will look into the placement of the tracts in in the restrooms. Please let me know if you have any further questions or concerns.

V/r
Eric

Eric Noble
LTC, JA
Chief, Administrative Law Division

Office of the Staff Judge Advocate
I Corps and Joint Base Lewis-McChord
(xxx) xxx-xxxx DSN: xxx-xxxx

Editor added bold for impact.


Inbox logo

“In God We Trust”

(The below was transcribed from a hand-typed letter postmarked Sept. 17 2016
from a retired Colonel USA via U.S. Mail to MRFF
)

Military Religious Freedom Foundation
13170 Central Ave S E, STE 255
Albuquerque, NM 87123

TO: Michael Weinstein 

You and your organization are operating because of the freedoms of this great country. If you had lived in Germany in the 1940s you wouldn’t even be alive and neither would any working in your organization.

You are not stupid although your actions indicate you are. This country has symbols such as on our coins and paper money “In God We Trust”. Everyone should be able to show what they believe at work, in churches or at sporting events. If you don’t agree you don’t have to participate...that is what freedom is. If you don’t believe what our forefathers based our country on then you and your organization can move to Iraq where you surely would be permitted to express yourselves or you could protest some Iraq soldier having his Koran on the desk.

I would not be offended by some Jew having Jew information on his desk. Why can’t you be the same way or leave this country?

You Jews killed Jesus and you’re still trying to kill his teachings or thoughts. You and your group will surely roast in hell soon. Life is very short on this earth and life in hell is forever. This country will certainly be better off when you and your kind are gone. We don’t want to see another fall of Rome in this country and people like you are trying to make that happen. 

(name withheld)


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


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