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Wednesday, May 10, 2017


UNTRAINED, UNARMED, UNQUALIFIED, AND PROSELYTIZING AT THE GATE


MRFF's SENIOR RESEARCH DIRECTOR CHRIS RODDA RESPONDS TO
TOBYHANNA TRANSGRESSION ON HUFFPOST AND DAILY KOS

U.S. Army: Gate Guard at Military Base Wearing Bible Verse Hat is OK Because He Wasn't a
Real Security Guard

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

In my ten years of working for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation(MRFF), I've seen many cases in which the military's attempt to justify a violation of regulations just dug them in deeper, but this one takes the cake.

On May 4, MRFF received complaints from twenty-one civilian Army employees at the Tobyhanna Army Depot in Pennsylvania. Upon their arrival for work that morning, these twenty-one federal government employees (fifteen of whom are practicing Christians) were shocked to see that a gate guard at this military installation was wearing a black baseball cap sporting in large silver numbers the biblical citation "3:16"[...]

Click to read on HuffPost & Daily Kos


Pathetic Excuse from the Tobyhanna Army Depot's
Chief of Public Affairs
About Proselytizing Message
on Gate Guard's Hat

Friday, May 5, 2017

Email Exchange Between MRFF's Mikey Weinstein and Officers at Tobyhanna Army Depot, and Email of Gratitude from MRFF Client at Tobyhanna Army Depot

From: Mikey Weinstein
Sent: Thursday, May 04, 2017 11:08 AM
To: Peterson, Gregory D COL USARMY TYAD (US)

Dear Col. Peterson,

Sir, one of your armed, DOD, Army, civilian gate guards at the Tobyhanna Army Depot Main or "Scranton" gate is wearing a baseball hat with the biblical citation from the New Testament Book of John "3:16" on it. Seriously, how can you let such a deplorable thing happen given how detrimental it is to good order, morale, discipline and unit cohesion, sir?

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) has received official complaints from 21 of the Army civilian personnel under your direct command about this shameful matter of sectarian Christian proselytizing this morning. Fifteen of these 21 individuals, who are now MRFF clients, happen to be practicing Christians themselves while the other 6 are from the Jewish, Islamic and Hindu faiths as well as some who are atheists, secularists or agnostics.

We realize that you may not be aware of this egregiously unconstitutional action by one of your Dept. of the Army gate guards, yet you are still wholly responsible as the Commander, sir.

Thus, MRFF demands that you immediately order that offending gate guard to expeditiously remove that Christian-proselytizing baseball hat and appropriately, aggressively and visibly punish that individual as well as all others in his chain of command who are either directly or indirectly responsible for this unfortunate event as well.

MRFF notes that today is also the always terribly divisive so-called "National Day of Prayer" and we wonder if THAT fact caused this gate guard of yours to wear that hat today?

Please advise me soonest as to what actions you are taking, Colonel Peterson.

Thank you.

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

------

From:Haas, Robert D CIV USARMY TYAD (US)
Date: May 5, 2017 at 2:17:08 PM MDT
To: Mikey Weinstein

Mr. Weinstein:

This is in response to your e-mail below to Colonel Gregory Peterson registering concern that one of the "armed, DOD, Army, civilian gate guards" at Tobyhanna Army Depot wore a baseball hat containing reference to a religious "biblical citation".

Thank you for your concern. We take these matters very seriously and have looked into it.

On 4 May 2017, between the hours of 6:00 and 7:00 a.m., a non-uniformed civilian employee assisted in processing incoming morning traffic at the Scranton Gate by performing identification checks; he was wearing a baseball cap with the inscription: "3:16". The employee is not a Police Officer or Guard, was unarmed and wearing personal clothing not issued by the Government. This employee was assisting arriving co-workers, not the general public.

We take issues regarding religious exercise and expression in the Federal workplace very seriously and strive to ensure our practices align with Federal regulations and standards. Tobyhanna follows the Federal standards outlined in "Guidelines on Religious Exercise and Expression in the Federal Workplace," dated August 14, 1997. This document, which is available on the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission website, provides several examples of permissible attire or conduct for Federal employees.

Again, I thank you for your concern.

Robert D. Haas
Acting Chief of Public Affairs

------

From: Tobyhanna Army Depot MRFF Client
Date: May 5, 2017 at 3:18:40 PM MDT
To: Mikey Weinstein

Dear Mr Weinstein

Thank you for forwarding the weak and insufficient response from Tobyhanna Pubic Affairs Department on the matter of a person who cleared me to enter the Depot while wearing a proselytizing Christian biblical phrase on his hat which offended me and clearly many others on the morning of 4 May 2017.

I have been entering that same gate every morning for many many years and have never been checked by anyone but either an armed Dept. of the Army civilian security guard or an armed active duty Army security officer.

Never has a non-trained non-security person every checked me in until the morning of 4 May 2017. This poor excuse from Tobyhanna raises many serious questions involving installation security as well as Christian religious proselytizing.

As far as vehicles being either Tobyhanna employees or the general public I believe we all can and do use that very same gate to enter the Tobyhanna Depot.

The issue of who that was clearing me and others into the Depot that morning now seems as important as the offensive John “3:16” hat that he was wearing in a highly visible obviously authoritarian military job. How would any of us know that he was not a real military gate guard or law enforcement official?

I concur that appropriate measures be taken as soon as possible to punish the decision makers who allowed this incident to occur.

And I further recommend that published procedures be issued and that specific training take place around those procedures to ensure that something as terrible as this never happens again.

Security Gates at our Military Installations are very important locations that must go out of their way to be as professional and secure as possible. Having a non-security person checking IDs at the Tobyhanna Army Depot Main Gate seems to be an egregious breach of DoD security protocols. Having that same person wear a clearly Christian proselytizing hat in the performance of this security role at the Main Gate is a clear breach of the separation of church and state in our Constitution and DoD and DA regulations.

Thank you MRFF for ensuring that Tobyhanna Army Depot, and through this example to all DoD installations, complies with the Constitutional standards for non-establishment of religion that the DoD espouses.

Anonymous Tobyhanna U.S. Army Employee

------

From: Mikey Weinstein
Date: May 5, 2017 at 4:13:31 PM MDT
To: Peterson, Gregory D COL USARMY TYAD (US)

Col. Peterson, the pathetic excuse from your organization's Acting Chief of Public Affairs (apparently on YOUR behalf), Mr. Robert Haas, is spectacularly specious, clearly non-responsive and raises FAR more extremely serious questions of both U.S. Army official malfeasance and/or misfeasance than it even reMOTELY answers.

Even if we at MRFF, on behalf of our 21 Tobyhanna U.S. Army clients on this sordid matter, somehow accepted your ridiculous, security-breaching "explanation" that everything is "just fine' because "that guy" with the obviously Christian proselytizing attire was NOT a genuine Army law enforcement officer or Army guard, it is STILL A FACT that he WAS, nonetheless, a U.S. Army employee ACTING just like a security gate guard passing judgment on those trying to gain official entrance to your military facility at your Main Gate whilst concomitantly wearing the (John) "3:16" hat!!

Hey, Col. Peterson, Got Security? More even, Col.; Got Church-State Separation Compliance? Sure as hell seems that "NO" is the answer to both queries, sir

This matter is hardly over, Col. Peterson, stand by.

Mikey Weinstein,
Founder and President, MRFF


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

"Religious FREEDOM!"

From: (name withheld)
Date: May 10, 2017 at 7:34:53 AM MDT
To: Mikey Weinstein
Subject: Religious FREEDOM!

Mikey Weinstein,

It's too damn bad you weren't born in Warsaw, Poland in 1930. Then maybe Adolf Hitler & his Henchmen could have dealt with you the way you deserve to be dealt with today! I PRAY to OUR/MY GOD that you go the way of Madelyn Murray O'Hare! She HAD the same perverted outlook you have now. She's in a very special place in Hell! Your special place is waiting for you!

(name withheld)

Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member John Compere

(name withheld),

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation represents over 50,000 military members, veterans & civilians (96% of whom are Christians) who have requested that their American constitutional right to determine, enjoy & practice their own religious or non-religious beliefs be respected & protected. Our Christian clients do not want someone else's version of Christianity imposed upon them. Our non-Christian clients do not want any version of Christianity force upon them. All object to being publicly proselytized with another's religious beliefs in the government work place. We proudly represent them to insure this precious American liberty of theirs (yours, ours & all Americans) is respected & protected.

Your subject is "Religious FREEDOM". I do not know your legal training or qualifications but your understanding of religious freedom under the US Constitution appears erroneous. Attached is a rational explanation in plain language of the factual, historical & lawful relationship between our Constitution, the military & any religion. Hopefully, you find it informative.

As a fellow retired military veteran who was born, raised & educated as a Christian, I know & appreciate that Christianity is just a branch off the ancient tree of Judaism, Jesus & his disciples were Jewish, the biblical authors were Jewish and there would be no Christianity without the Jewish faith, people & culture. Christianity taught me God created all human being equal in the image of God & it was very good (Genesis 1:27&31). Christianity also taught me the 2nd greatest Commandment is to love one's neighbor (Mark 12:31, Luke 10:27).

Your hate-filled version of Christianity is something I can neither comprehend nor condone. It is a sad commentary on our humanity when someone like you believes in and boasts of such hatred for fellow Americans. I hope you will thoughtfully reconsider.

Most Sincerely,

John Compere

Brigadier General, US Army (Retired)

MRFF Advisory Board Member

Click to read more


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