Jeremy Hall, an Army Specialist in Iraq
is Harassed, Threatened after
MRFF’s Lawsuit went Public
By Ilene Proctor - September 24, 2007
In today’s Army, it's hard to fight for God & Country if you have the wrong (or no) God. Such is the case with Jeremy Hall, an Army specialist based in Iraq, whose personal safety is now in severe jeopardy.
If your blood runs cold when you read this, it will freeze when you read why
Because of the frequent occurrences of “fragging” and what happened to Pat Tillman’s and other “friendly fire” occurrences, Hall has every reason to fear for his safety. After word got out that he was a plaintiff in a landmark lawsuit that named Secretary of Defense Robert Gates as a Defendant, alleged postings of messages on military and civilian based blogs, such as military.com, apparently threatened Hall with "fragging," a colloquial expression used by the military in which an unpopular soldier could be killed by intentional friendly fire during
combat. Weinstein indicated he has not yet been able to verify the authenticity of the blog postings threatening Hall with "fragging." Weinstein further states that he “takes the threat of violence against Hall seriously and has already reached out to senior officials in the Pentagon as well as senior Army operations officials to ensure Hall's safety.”
Hall writes: "Mikey, I hope I am not a victim of a hate crime while I sleep 2 tonight," "I do not want to die for my country this way. The soldier( whom he names) is threatening to beat my ass and all sorts of things. I may be harmed or worse. I am afraid for my safety. I can’t sleep man... I just layed (sic) in my bunk for two hours and I couldn't sleep."
An Army Specialist, Jeremy Hall, who is on active duty at Combat Operations Base Speicher, Iraq, is in this dire situation solely because of his atheistic beliefs, and the fact that he declined to participate in a Christian prayer ceremony commemorating the Thanksgiving Holiday.
"Immediately after plaintiff made it known he would decline to join hands and pray, he was confronted, in the presence of other military personnel, by the senior ranking staff sergeant who asked plaintiff why he did not want to pray, whereupon plaintiff explained
because he is an atheist," says the lawsuit filed by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), an organization with an undisputed moral compass that is always focused on assuring that our Military’s might is matched with America’s Constitutional guarantees. (http://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org) "The staff sergeant asked plaintiff what an atheist is and plaintiff responded it meant that he (plaintiff) did not believe in God. This response so infuriated the staff sergeant he told plaintiff that he would have to sit elsewhere for the Thanksgiving dinner. Nonetheless, plaintiff sat at the table in silence and
finished his meal." Specialist Hall was then told he would have to face consequences because he, in so many words, refused to be evangelized.
Hall contacted Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and a landmark lawsuit was filed on Constitution Day, September 17th, 2007 US District Court in Kansas City against Major Freddy Welborn and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
In an apparent response to the lawsuit, Hall just sent an urgent email message to Mikey Weinstein, informing him a fellow soldier is goading him with a variety of threats and slurs, threatening to "beat his ass," calling him an "atheist ass pirate," "a faggot," and gathering a posse of bullies to intimidate Hall because of the allegations Hall made against the military in the landmark lawsuit.
Weinstein states: "I am demanding that the Secretaries of Defense and the US Army take
absolute immediate action to do two things: provide for the comprehensive personal safety of our co-plaintiff Army Specialist Jeremy Hall, and immediately investigate all US Army personnel who may have violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice by threatening the personal safety and indeed the life of Specialist Hall. If one hair on Hall's head is touched there will be hell to pay."
Even President Bush, on the occasion of the Third Bush-Kerry Debate – 13 October 2004, stated: “I’m mindful in a free society that people can worship if they want to, or not. You’re equally an American if you choose to worship an Almighty and if you choose not to. If you’re a Christian, Jew or Muslim, you’re equally an America (sic), That’s the great thing about, is the right to worship the way you see fit.”
Hall's lawsuit alleges that on August 7, when Hall received permission by an Army chaplain to organize a meeting of other soldiers who shared his atheist beliefs, his supervisor, Army Major Freddy Welborn, broke up the gathering and threatened to retaliate against the soldier by charging him with violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The complaint also alleges that Welborn vowed to block Hall's reenlistment in the Army if the atheist group continued to meet - a violation of Hall's First Amendment rights under the Constitution. Welborn is named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
"During the course of the meeting, defendant Welborn confronted the
attendees, disrupted the meeting and interfered with plaintiff Hall's
and the other attendees' rights to discuss topics of their interests," the lawsuit alleges.The complaint charges that Hall, who is based at Fort Riley, Kansas, has been forced to "submit to a religious test as a qualification to
his post as a soldier in the United States Army," a violation of
Article VI, Clause 3 of the Constitution.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation said Defense Secretary Robert Gates is named as a defendant in the lawsuit because he has allowed the military to engage in "a pattern and practice of constitutionally impermissible promotions of religious beliefs within the Department of Defense and the United States military."
The lawsuit seeks an injunction against Welborn from further participating
in behavior "that has the effect of establishing compulsory religious practices" and requests that Gates intercede with Welborn so that Hall can exercise his rights for free speech.
Weinstein explains: "This landmark federal litigation is just the first of a galaxy of new lawsuits that will be expeditiously filed against the Pentagon in a concentrated effort to preserve the precious religious liberties guaranteed by our beautiful United States Constitution," Weinstein said Monday. "Today, we are boldly stabbing back against an
unconstitutional heart of darkness, a contagion of fundamentalist religious supremacy and triumphalism noxiously dominating the command and control of the technologically most lethal organization ever created by humankind: our honorable and noble United States armed
ABOUT MIKEY WEINSTEIN
Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein is Founder and President of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (http://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org). He is an attorney and businessman who spent over three years as a White House counsel in the Reagan White House. He was formerly General Counsel for H. Ross Perot and Perot Systems Corporation. An Honor Graduate from the USAF Academy, he served on active duty in the USAF as a Judge Advocate General (JAG) for ten years. He lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is also author of the book With God on Our Side: One Man's War Against an Evangelical Coup in America's Military with Davin Seay."