Michael Weinstein’s MRFF is “at war”…with Quakers.
This particular controversy was also highlighted by Michael Weinstein’s “religious freedom” organization. The response of his organization was typical, as communicated by board member Leah Burton:
Burton connected the US military to this controversy, despite the lack of any evidence to support such a connection:
How dangerous it is to have our military members proselytizing to Muslims in a country that belongs to them? This is outrageous and puts our troops at much greater risk than they are already in…
Contrary to Burton’s rant, no one has made any assertion that “our military members” were “proselytizing to [sic] Muslims” in this incident. That didn’t stop Burton from making the association, however; she even illustrated her post with a picture of Lt Carey Cash holding a Bible…as if that had something to do with the story. Neither of the aid groups has been accused of anything regarding the military.
The MRFF’s Leah Burton assumed the accusations were correct.
Burton gave no evidence to support the accusations against the aid groups, and ignored the fact the accusing TV station admitted it had no proof. This lack of evidentiary support is standard fare for the MRFF, because the shocking accusation is more interesting than the truth. When someone else pointed this out, Burton played the “we’re not telling you all we know” card, a common MRFF tactic and convenient excuse absolving her of any responsibility to defend her assertion. The problem with her excuse is that she based her argument on a publicly available news article, and nothing more.
The MRFF defines religions, assigns followers…again.
Burton apparently used her zen to determine the theology of those accused of the crime of “proselytizing.” She said they were “dominionists,” despite the fact that neither of the two organizations espouses a “dominionist” theology. Like Weinstein himself, Burton assigns religious beliefs to those whom she sees fit, regardless of what those people or organizations actually believe. This enables her to continue the MRFF contention they are only “at war” with a “specific sect” of Christians; it’s just that the MRFF gets to determine who is actually in that sect. To date, it has been any Christian they felt like being “at war” with, regardless of their actual beliefs.
For the record, the aid groups represented African Methodists, Catholics, Coptics, PC(USA), and even the Friends, among others. It is likely those faith groups would take issue with being described as “dominionist.” Less than 30 seconds of research would have prevented Burton from putting her foot in the MRFF’s mouth by potentially offending a host of Christian denominations, as well as revealing that the “sect” they are “at war” with includes the Quakers (who, in Burton’s words, are apparently “willing to use force” to achieve “world domination.” Who knew?).
Burton says this “endangers” America, requiring action to restrict liberty.
Finally, this “religious freedom” board member thinks since “deaths will occur” because of the accusations of “proselytizing,” then the accused should be subject to “criminal charges.”
Think about that. Even if the accusations are true, those organizations violated no US law; the only criminal charge they could face is a violation of Afghan law (on conversion), for which the penalty may be death. So Burton, on behalf of Weinstein’s MRFF, is advocating the potential execution of Christian aid workers, some of whom are American citizens, accused of attempting to convert local nationals in Afghanistan.
The MRFF, a “religious freedom” organization, is supporting the criminalization of…religious freedom. And the MRFF board member goes 0 for 2 in portraying her own organization in a positive light. She deserves credit, though, for shining light on her organization’s true objectives.
On a larger scale, Burton is advocating cowardice: America should acquiesce every time a crowd chants “death to America” over its protection or expression of a human liberty.
Truth be told, there may be some factual basis for Burton’s claim that “deaths may occur” as a result of this. One Afghan government official has reportedly called for the public execution of the converts to Christianity. Neither Burton nor Weinstein have come to the defense of the converts’ religious freedom; instead, they are focused on the punishment of those who supported the converts’ human rights.
Despite her sensationalized assertions, it is unlikely Burton or Weinstein actually want to live in a world where it is illegal to change one’s religion. It’s just that in this case they get to make Christians the “bad guys,” and it is the opposition of Christianity, not religious freedom, that is the MRFF objective. The government of Afghanistan is not necessarily a friend to “religious freedom.” That the MRFF would take their side, rather than the side of religious liberty, may simply be a marriage of convenience, or perhaps an example of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”