It’s definitely not a fair fight.
United States Constitution, Article VI
….but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.
United States Constitution, Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
On May 13, 2013, Representative Vicky Hartzler (r) signed on to letter addressed to the Secretary of Defense taking issue (“expressing concern”) with a meeting on religious freedom that Mikey Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, had with representatives of the Department of Defense. The exchange of letters was made available on Representative Hartzler’s congressional website yesterday. That meeting would probably fall under that pesky “redress of grievances” clause, plus a few others.
The letter [pdf], signed by Representative Hartzler (r):
Congress of the United States
House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
May 13, 2013
The Honorable Chuck Hagel
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301
Dear Secretary Hagel,
It has come to our attention that as recently as April 23, 2013, Pentagon officials met with Mr. Michael “Mikey” Weinstein, Founder and President of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), to discuss religious freedom in the military. As we have great concern regarding numerous inflammatory statements from Mr. Weinstein in recent weeks, we are seeking further clarification on the meeting that took place last month.
In a recent posting in his own words, Mr. Weinstein characterized men and women of the christian faith as, “monsters who terrorize their fellow Americans” and offered consent to labeling individual faith based family groups as “hate groups.” Mr. Weinstein also urged exposure of these “patholgically anti-gay, Islamaphobic, and rabidly intolerant agitators,” equating them as “die hard- enemies of the United States Constitution.” There are additional previous examples where Mr. Weinstein compares men and women of faith serving in the Pentagon to the Taliban and Al Qaeda, and followers of the Christian faith to that of Hitler and Stalin. Also of Concern are statements equating spiritual expression to “spiritual rape” and sedition and treason in the military. Such sentiments are consistent throughout Mr. Weinstein’s printed and other media materials.
We question the Pentagon’s judgment and reasoning in accepting a meeting from someone with a history of such statements and sentiments like Mr. Weinstein. We would respectfully request clarification on the nature of the meeting and detailed information regarding the following items:
1. Confirmation of a meeting between Pentagon officials and representatives from MRFF, as well as a list of attendees, both military and civilian;
2. The purpose of the meeting, specifically whether the meeting was organized to inform deliberative policy for the Armed Forces, as well as a summary of the meeting’s discussion;
3. Prior to arranging this meeting, were Pentagon officials aware of Mr. Weinstein’s previous statements, including those referenced above?
4. In addition to any meeting already held, are there additional meetings scheduled?
Noting that this is a particularly critical time for the Department of Defense as they finalize regulations protecting the moral and religious convictions of service members and military chaplains, we would appreciate your attention to this matter.
Thank you and we look forward to the favor of a reply.
[signed – 68 members, including:]
Member of Congress
“….Noting that this is a particularly critical time for the Department of Defense as they finalize regulations protecting the moral and religious convictions of service members and military chaplains, we would appreciate your attention to this matter….”
Is this about possible restrictions on proselytizing others in the Armed Forces who don’t want it? Just asking.
Mikey Weinstein is a graduate of the Air Force Academy, served with distinction, is a Republican, is an attorney, and served in the Reagan Administration.
A 2008 interview with Mikey Weinstein:
….I was at the Academy for a conference, when my younger son (who had just finished the arduous one-month combat survival training) asked me if it would be possible to sit down and talk. It was June 29, 2004, and he was very troubled. He told me he had been called a “fucking Jew,” and that he and the Jewish people had total complicity in the execution of Jesus Christ by numerous people up and down the chain of command at numerous places around the Academy….
That’s a very special kind of proselytizing, isn’t it? And:
….Later, I found out this kind of harassment was not limited to the Air Force Academy – that this contagion of unbridled right-wing, Christian fundamentalism had spread not just to the Air Force Academy but throughout the entirety of the United States Air Force, United States Marine Corp, United States Navy and the United States Army.
The proselytizing mission has gone so far that there are formal organizations among officers and enlisted men. For the officers, it’s called the Officers’ Christian Fellowship; for the enlisted folks, it’s called the Christian Military Fellowship. And they have a three-level, or a tripartite goal, which goals they view as far more critically important than the oath, the blood oath, they all swore out to protect and preserve, support and defend the Constitution of the United States. There are now 737 U.S. military official installations — it’s actually closer to 1,000 — in 132 countries and we have variances of this Christian Taliban and the Christian al-Qaeda on every one of them….
….Now, I remind you, Hitler never had more than eight percent of the German citizenry in the Nazi party; I don’t think Stalin ever had more than 2.9 percent of his closest association. So, this is plenty, particularly when you are talking about a command and control structure like the U.S. military. The frightening prospect that our conventional and nuclear forces–technologically the most lethal organization ever created by humankind-was falling into the hands of a Christian Taliban. There was nobody focusing directly there….
Go. Read the entire interview.
I see how that could upset Representative Vicky Hartzler (r).
The response [pdf], dated as received on June 27, 2013, from the Acting Secretary of the Air Force (listed on Representative Hartzler’s website as “Response from Secretary Hagel on Religious Liberties.pdf”) was relatively bland. It was signed by Eric Fanning who became Acting Secretary of the Air Force on June 21, 2013.
You think the previous Secretary might have had other more pressing concerns? Just asking.