MRFF Sticks Its Foot in Its Mouth. Again.
Few people might realize that while the Military Religious Freedom Foundation claims some 16,000 undefined “clients,” fewer than a half dozen people actually speak for the MRFF (and even fewer speak with any regularity). It is interesting, then, to observe Michael Weinstein’s inability to control his own message.
This site has already pointed out the self-contradiction of Chris Rodda, the MRFF research assistant who said a Chaplain’s sermon was “of course…permissible,” but it was also “part of the…problem.” (Her statement was also in direct contradiction with Weinstein’s own words.) In addition, the MRFF still uses the Chaplain’s sermon as an example of the ‘destruction’ of the “separation of church and state.” Rather than defending the Chaplain’s religious freedom, Michael Weinstein is raising money at the expense of it.
Chris Rodda recently reaffirmed her prior contradictory statement when, speaking of another Chaplain’s sermon, she said
On the one hand, evangelizing is part of the Christian faith, so the chaplain has the right to talk about it in a worship service…
Apparently, then, Rodda is admitting the MRFF is holding up for derision (and questioning the legality of, and raising money off of) what even she says is the Chaplain’s right to “talk about [evangelizing] in a worship service.”
(She then goes on to say
but on the other hand, the chaplain’s military congregation does not have the right do what the chaplain is encouraging them to do — evangelize in the military workplace.
which is a false statement. As is the MRFF practice, she provides no support for her statement, apparently believing her word is sufficient. No such restriction exists.)
MRFF Board Member Rick Baker has also occasionally stuck his foot in the mouth of the MRFF, with Chris Rodda “non-explaining” Baker’s fairly clear statements.
The latest example of self-contradiction is fairly obvious. From the Associated Press article (repeated in the New York Times and others) on the Pentagon’s invitation to Franklin Graham:
Weinstein said that while he doesn’t object to the day of prayer, the Pentagon…
From Leah Burton, MRFF board member:
For those of you who may not have seen the article in the New York Times yesterday about our efforts at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) to stop the National Day of Prayer and Franklin Graham from speaking at the Pentagon, I am pasting the link here for you.
This is an extraordinary step toward curbing the infiltration of the Christian Dominionists dominance and influence in our military chaplaincy, and exposing their extreme anti-Islam views. I am constantly proud to work alongside Mikey Weinstein on the Board of Directors for MRFF. We are indeed making a difference! (emphasis added)
The AP article, which is consistent with the MRFF letter, indicates Weinstein “doesn’t object to the day of prayer,” but Weinstein’s board member says the MRFF is trying to stop it. If they don’t object, why would they try to stop it? Which is it?
It would appear that Weinstein can’t even get the three most vocal members of his group to deliver the same message he is. (Burton apparently didn’t even read the article to which she linked.)
The MRFF board members (there are only two) say photos of officers with crosses are illegal, military officers can’t have religious bumper stickers or emblems on their private car, and the MRFF is out to “stop” the NDoP. All of these are ludicrous, inconsistent with military and government policies, and extremist. They also confirm critics’ accusations that Weinstein has a personal agenda contradictory with “religious freedom” in the military; in fact, these statements confirm critics’ accusations the MRFF is out to restrict religious freedom in the military, rather than defend it as he outwardly claims.
To date, Michael Weinstein has neither repeated nor repudiated his organization’s statements. However, his biography on his own website explains his agenda.
In 2006 [Weinstein left] to focus his fulltime attention on the nonprofit charitable foundation he founded to directly battle the evangelical, fundamentalist religious right; The Military Religious Freedom Foundation.
The words “religious freedom” appear nowhere on his page except the name of his organization. His aim isn’t religious freedom; it is to “battle” evangelical Christians.
Weinstein’s board members and research assistant may have spoken out of school, or they may have reaffirmed the MRFF’s true agenda — which is so extreme even the PR-savvy Weinstein won’t say it.
Given Weinstein’s history, it is very likely the latter.