Holy warriors in the US Armed Forces
May 18, 2008
Separation of church and state being dissolved within the military
Recently the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), an advocacy group, along with Specialist Jeremy Hall filed suit in federal court in Kansas. This case being held in front of civil authorities alleges that Specialist Hall's right to be free from state endorsement of religion under the First Amendment has been violated, and that he has faced retaliation for his views. Mikey Weinstein, founder of the MRFF, says this is a systemic problem in the US Armed Forces, and is not being taken seriously enough. Organizations such as Christian Embassy, the Officers' Christian Fellowship and Christian Military Fellowship are actively evangelizing among the various branches of US government and Armed Forces, and Weinstein argues this is unconstitutional.
Michael L. "Mikey" Weinstein is the Founder and President of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. Mikey spent 10 years in the Air Force as a "JAG", serving as both a Federal prosecutor and criminal defense attorney. He worked in the Reagan Administration as legal counsel in The White House, and served as the first General Counsel to H. Ross Perot. He has also authored the book, "With God On Our Side", an expose on the systemic problem of religious intolerance throughout the United States Armed Forces.
MATTHEW PALEVSKY, JOURNALIST, TRNN: The separation of church and state is a founding principle of American democracy. But after his sons were subject to antisemitic taunts at the US Air Force Academy, Mikey Weinstein realized that this separation had disappeared. Himself a graduate of the Air Force Academy and former White House council to Ronald Reagan, Weinstein started an organization called the Military Religious Freedom Foundation in order to reinstate the religious freedoms guaranteed by the establishing clause in the First Amendment.
MICHAEL L. "MIKEY" WEINSTEIN, FOUNDER, MILITARY RELIGIOUS FREEDOM FOUNDATION: Basically, we've got a situation where one particular metaphysical or religious perspective, in this case what is known as fundamentalist Christianity_(I¡½_(Bit's actually got a longer technical name, called pre-millennial dispensational re-constructionist Dominionist fundamentalist evangelical Christianity_(I¡½_(BI realize it's a mouthful_(I¡½_(Brepresents about 12.6 percent of the American public. But remember Hitler never had more than 8 percent in his nationalist socialist movement, and Stalin had 2.9 percent. These are a group of people, about 38 million Americans, and the percentages are much higher in the US military_(I¡½_(Bwe think in the low-30-percent area_(I¡½_(Bwho believe that basically what's referred to as the great commission in the New Testament, the Book of Matthew, Chapter 28, Verse 19, where one of the last things Jesus is supposed to have said to the apostles, which is "go and make disciples of all nations," also a reference in Mark 16:50. They believe that that trumps any aspect of the Constitution, and basically that they have an illimitable right to push this biblical world view irrespective of federal law, constitutional law, irrespective of being regulated by time, place, or manner, to the exclusion of everybody else.
Christian Embassy Fund-raising Video
VOICEOVER: There are over 25,000 Department of Defense leaders working in the rings and corridors of the Pentagon. Through Bible studies, discipleship, prayer breakfasts, and outreach events, Christian Embassy is mustering these men and women into an intentional relationship with Jesus Christ.
The numbers that are germane here are the numbers 737 and 132, because we now have 737 US military installations that the Pentagon acknowledges that we have_(I¡½_(Bit's actually closer to 1,000_(I¡½_(Bscattered around the world as we garrison the globe in 132 countries. And in every one of these installations, we have at least one, and some cases we have several dozen, chapters of a group called the Officers Christian Fellowship for the officers. For the enlisted folks it's called the Christian Military Fellowship. Their main purpose is to have Christian officers exercising biblical leadership to raise up a "godly army"_(I¡½_(Btheir words, not mine. Their goal, which they're unabashed about_(I¡½_(Bit's right on their Web site_(I¡½_(Bgoal number one, they want to see a spiritually transformed United States military, goal number two, with ambassadors for Christ in uniform, lastly empowered by the holy spirit. If you look at their study guide, their mean credo is to not allow the opposition, all of which is spearheaded by Satan, to prevent them from their mission of reclaiming territory in the US military for Jesus Christ.
POSTER ON A WALL: ARTICLE VI: I WILL NEVER FORGET THAT I AM AN AMERICAN, FIGHTING FOR FREEDOM, RESPONSIBLE FOR MY ACTIONS, AND DEDICATED TO THE PRINCIPLES WHICH MADE MY COUNTRY FREE. I WILL TRUST IN GOD AND THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
WEINSTEIN: So to sit there, if you're even being gently evangelized, even if it's gently, by your military superior, "get the hell out of my damn face, sir or madam," is not an option for you. So nearly 8,000 of them have called and contacted our foundation, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, on the Web at www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org. And the amazing thing is that 96 percent of them coming to us are Christians themselves. Why does this matter? It matters because, look, until the US attorney disaster of December 2006, this country didn't know that we had 150 graduates of one of the worst law schools in American history, Regent University Law School, Pat Robertson's law school, literally awash in the Justice Department. That was bad news. The good news is the Justice Department does not own any conventional, laser-guided, or nuclear weapons. The Department of Defense does, and that's part of the reason that we have filed a lawsuit, a massive federal lawsuit, in Kansas City, Kansas, just about seven weeks ago. And the theme of our lawsuit, what we're going to show the federal judge, is that we're facing_(I¡½_(Bthe theme is what we call "the four Ps": a pervasive and pernicious pattern and practice of unconstitutional rape of the religious liberties of our honorable and noble sailors, soldiers, marines, and airmen. So we're putting our money where our mouth is_(I¡½_(Bwe're in federal court. And anybody who doesn't like what we're doing I just have five little words for: "Tell it to the judge," because we're already there.
Christian Embassy Fundraising Video
MAJOR GENERAL JACK CATTON, US AIR FORCE: As I meet the people that come into my directorate, and I tell them right up front who Jack Catton is, and I start with the fact that I'm an old-fashioned American, and my first priority is my faith in God, then my family, and then country, I think it's a huge impact, because you have many men and women who are seeking God's counsel and wisdom as we advise the chairman and the secretary of defense. Hallelujah.
Let me take you to Tuesday, July 12, 2005. The number-two-ranking general among the thousands in the chaplains corps of the US Air Force, Brigadier General Cecil R. Richardson, the statement he made on the front page, again, of the newspaper is most hated by the Pentagonx_(I¡½_(Bso you know that this statement had to be fully vetted_(I¡½_(Bwas the following: it is now Air Force policy to reserve its right to evangelize anyone we determine to be unchurched [The New York Times]. Now, think about that for a second. That doesn't just violate the separation of church and state in the First Amendment, those sixteen golden words, that Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, but our founding framers, our constitutional Founding Fathers, were so assiduously careful to separate church and state. I mean, they looked at European history, where most of the tyrannies that had occurred had been when men of the cloth had been men in political power. They looked at Cromwell in England. They didn't even have to leave our shores_(I¡½_(Bthey looked at the Salem Witch Trials. And they said, "Not here. Not this time."
Christian Embassy Fundraising Video
COLONEL RALPH BENSON, PENTAGON CHAPLAIN: Christian Embassy is a blessing to the Washington area. It's a blessing to our capital. It's a blessing to our country, being able to share the message of Jesus Christ in a very, very important time in our world, as [part] of the worldwide war on terrorism. What more do we need than Christian people leading us and guiding us? So they're needed in this hour.
Standing General Order Number One in the AOR, which is exactly how the Pentagon refers to Iraq and Afghanistan_(I¡½_(Bit stands for the Area of Responsibility_(I¡½_(Bis that there will be no proselytizing of our own troops, let alone the Iraqis. And yet we have sent untold numbers of audio, visual, and written documents in Arabic to our troops to help try to convert the Iraqis and the people in Afghanistan.
[Photo by Sgt. Andrew Duffy, Army National Guard, while stationed in Iraq:]
TEXT: MILITARY POLICE BATTALION. Where it all begins... Inprocessing Holding Area. Winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people. One detainee at a time.
WEINSTEIN: It is overwhelming, it's astonishing, it's surreal, and it's beyond dangerous. As I said before, it's two sides of the same coin. You know, look, we defeated fascists like Hitler, Tojo, and Mussolini, right, in World War II in just 44 months. We're, like, what? We're 61, 62, whatever it is, months into this war right now. Must we become the Christian Taliban and al-Qaeda to defeat the Islamic Wahhabiist fundamentalist versions? Well, apparently so. If you go to our Web site, the whole page opens up with a 9.5-minute video that we made of just some of the evidence that we have. Part of it shows, you know, Islamic fundamentalists holding the Koran and their weapons; we have pictures of basic recruits at Fort Jackson holding their weapons and holding the Bible. How do you think that looks to the other side? How do you think it looks when we have an attack F16 squadron called the Crusaders? We lobbied against that for 18 months before the Air Force suddenly decided to mothball the squadron, but they can bring it back at any time. Like I said before, it is unbelievably pervasive. It is not the Constitution that is guiding what we're doing in the Middle East; apparently it's the Book of Revelation. And the Book of Revelation does not end with everybody being happy.
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.
Comments from Registered Users
hmm.... against god? don,t know god so i guess i cant be against him. but then i cant be for him either. When god shows up me know and we can do lunch; yall can introduce us and maybe we will hit it off.... who knows. But one thing i can tell you is no zero or noncom is has or can tell me what to believe. I darn sure don,t want to hear preaching when i,m doing my chore. religion is a choice! I wont tell you about my choice or sex life and i expect the same of you. the business of the armed forces is killing and i don't really care how you spinelessly justify it. Own up or don,t, blame any thing you want or don,t. be warned however: if you preach at me the next mort may very well be you.
Dodo Bird 2008-05-19
Saying something that was wrong went unaccounted for is no justification for repeating the mistake under a different banner. Shed light on what hasn't been mentioned, michel.lauzon.ing, don't denigrate the fact that this was. It is a valid issue to discuss. And frankly, I don't see how anyone can make the case that religion should have anything to do with war. Too often it is coopted for such purposes, as is the case here.
michel.lauzon.ing 2008-05-18 Are you against God ? I am an atheist, a proud one. Throughout history many wars have been fought with religion as the justification. You will never find in written history that a large group of atheists slaughtered a group of religious people, simply because they were so. Maybe if we start getting religion out of public life, peace, even world peace, might have a chance. John F. Kennedy said it right, religion is a personal thing. If a person doesn't want to have anything to do with it, what gives you (not just you, but the mentioned religious groups in the video, as well as any and all others) the right to push it on them? If you want to think that so-and-so is going to hell because they don't believe exactly as you do, fine, but keep it to yourself.
I regularly see "scary information" here but this one scares me the most so far. Being Taoist, I don't get very interested in the new religions with big marketing departments but when marketing is backed by a huge military, I don't see much of a chance for peace and acceptance of others. Strange as I thought Christianity was supposed to be all about peace and acceptance.
"When George Bush began to vocalise again, it was with the pieties served up by his speechwriters, confident that his Manichean declaration of war on evil also answered to a deep need in the American public for moral clarity, spiritual consolation and recovered nerve. He was not wrong about this. The homilies, not to mention the Waynesque vow to hunt the bad guys down - a promise yet to be fulfilled in the case of the al-Qaida leadership - may have made Islington cringe, but then again Islington was not under attack. The European press began to squirm uneasily at talk of evil, as if a wine and cheese party had suddenly turned into a Pentecostal revival meeting, and looked nervously round for the exit sign. Some of us, more accustomed to the religiosity of American life, had, and have, no problem whatever with using the e-word." < ahref='http://www.columbia.edu/cu/arthistory/html/dept_faculty_schama.html">Simon Schama, Guardian 2002, The dead & the guilty When we examine