Weinstein Claims Credit for BRAC’d Unit

A previous article noted that Michael Weinstein likes to highlight the places that his Military Religious Freedom Foundation was mentioned in the press.  One result of his “tooting his own horn” may be the perception of “impact” from his organization.  Apparently, his desire to seem influential is so strong that he has digressed into fiction.

In a long article published at an independent “online magazine,” Weinstein is quoted as saying:

Our Foundation stopped the 523rd Attack F16 Squadron three years ago; the Air Force suddenly mothballed it – they were called, by the way, “The Crusaders” – their official Air Force logo emblazoned on the fuselages of their attack F16’s, (equipped to carry laser-guided nuclear and conventional weapons) – this logo was on their flight-suits as well as the aircraft… (emphasis added)

(For the record, Weinstein was a JAG, not a fighter pilot, as displayed by his lack of understanding of military weapons.  There’s no such thing as a “laser guided nuclear weapon.”  If one knows anything about such weapons, the mere suggestion is laughable.  The descriptor sounds realistic and ominous enough to get him quoted in the press, however, which is his goal.)

Nearly four years ago, this site predicted this turn of events:

Even Mr. Michael Weinstein’s latest attack on “religion” in the Air Force will undoubtedly create misperceptions.  Weinstein wrote a scathing opinion column in the Air Force Times that “demanded” the removal of “Christian symbology” from the patch and unit name of the 523rd Fighter Squadron Crusaders

The Air Force will probably let time solve the issue; the last round of base closures slated the 523rd to be deactivated.  When the unit ceases to exist within the year, Weinstein’s timing can make him seem causal; if no one rebuts that perception, the public will see yet another case of religion “rightfully” being removed from the military. (emphasis added)

As was pointed out at the time, the 2005 BRAC that closed the 523rd came out prior to Weinstein even starting his “foundation,” yet he now claims credit for the result.  Despite a host of unsubstantiated claims of influencing the military toward his ends, Weinstein has faced a string of legal defeats and appears willing to take credit for things over which he had no influence whatsoever.

Despite his claim that his foundation accomplished this years ago, the 523rd symbology–which even he admits no longer exists–was still a part of his most recent lawsuit (now dismissed) against the Department of Defense.  As his interview shows, too, he also cites old, invalid data as ‘proof’ of continuing ‘overt Christianity’ in the US military–apparently lacking any current events to support his cause.


  • The very fact that your site exists causes more than a bit of discomfort to many people, and I’m one of them. I wrote the article in Subversify Magazine to which you took umbrage; as with many arguments where the facts tend to speak rather loudly, the only defense is to resort to arcane technicalities and personal attack (attempting to reduce the credibility of the witness, rather than deal with the evidence).

    Three out of four articles I picked from your site here attacked Mr. Weinstein. The other painted fundamentalist Christianity in the best light possible.

    I suppose I’m the only one here who sees the forest for the trees.

    As to the article, I quoted Mr. Weinstein directly. If he didn’t know the specifics of the weaponry you carry, that lack of knowledge doesn’t detract from the point he made – religious symbology on aircraft isn’t fitting in a secular republic. That the Air Force made the decision to mothball the unit doesn’t mean that this sort of thing can’t be done again.

    In spite of what you folks would like everyone to believe, there is plenty of evidence of overt proselytizing both of indigenous populations and non-Christian members of America’s military. The research done by people like myself and Jeff Sharlet (whose article, “Jesus Killed Mohammed” in Harper’s Magazine brought the concept to the fore) has revealed an extensive effort in this regard.

    Your belief in a ‘god’ is not at issue here – if it gives you peace and hope, it’s harmless. However, it becomes a serious issue when that religion is used a weapon – and when others begin operating in concert to make that religion law.

  • You are correct that credibility is an issue. Here Weinstein demonstrated his ability to “play loose” with not only facts, but easily demonstrable facts. If his thirst for attention is so strong that he mischaracterizes his own conduct, how can his accusations against others–particularly those based on “anonymous” sources–be considered credible?

    Such conduct directly reflects on the character of a man who has publicly installed himself as the arbiter of acceptable religious conduct in the military.

    Your “article” was little more than a book report on Weinstein that repeated his most common and repeated talking points over the past five years. It doesn’t even appear you did any independent confirmation of his accusations. The only statement of interest was Weinstein’s false characterization of his organization’s ‘success.’

    [Your faith] becomes a serious issue when that religion is used [as] a weapon

    I am unaware of any true, factual account of the Christian faith being used as a weapon by Christians. Even Sharlet’s article makes no such accusation. Last I checked, most military servicemembers, religious or not, relied on physical, kinetic weapons.

    That, and your insinuation of connection to political implications, make for good conspiracy theories, but little else.

  • JD, if you’re interested in stating your side of things, I’d be only to happy to conduct an interview with you. I’m doubting we’ll agree – but that’s not the issue at hand.

    Contact me at the email provided.