MRFF PR Machine Works Overtime Against McClary

Last Saturday the US Air Force Academy’s local Colorado Springs Gazette published responses to their previous editorial that described Michael Weinstein as worse than a hypocrite for trying to silence a retired military officer because of his religious views.

The letters were interesting not for their content, but for who wrote them.  The Gazette prefaced with:

The Gazette editorial “Censors want to silence war hero,” Jan. 24, advocated resulted [sic] in an overwhelming number of repsonses. Below is a small, representative sample.

The authors defending Weinstein’s criticism of USAFA’s invitation to Lt Clebe McClary, as included in the Gazette‘s sampling, were 

  • Paulette Hawkins
  • Walter Plywaski
  • Jason Torpy
  • Lesley Shure
  • Elizabeth Sholes
  • Darryl Wimberley
  • Marji Mendelsohn

In their letters to the Gazette, Sholes is the only one of the above writers who says “our” with reference to the MRFF.  Still, each of the names above, save the first, has previously allied themselves with Weinstein in other public arenas.

  • Walter Plywaski has previously said support to the MRFF would help prevent future concentration camps, which he survived in the 1940s.
  • Jason Torpy, head of the MAAF, said in 2007 that he and the MRFF “worked closely on a number of issues and will continue to do so.  MAAF builds community, but MRFF has the legal and financial power…”
  • Lesley Shure, a Texas doctor with no apparent connection to either Colorado Springs or Michael Weinstein, last defended Weinstein in the “Letters to the Editor” section in the awkward family feud that played out in the Colorado Springs newspaper last year.  She also defended him as “not anti-Christian” on another site.
  • Sholes, as already noted, is part of an organization allied with Weinstein’s MRFF and has long defended his cause.
  • Darryl Wimberley has previously publicized support for Weinstein on other sites.
  • Marji Mendelsohn previously wrote a fluff OpEd News article on the internet, but more interestingly, she has personally responded to “hate mail” sent to the MRFF, which seems to indicate she is active within the organization, not simply an outside supporter.

By contrast, the two letters defending USAFA in the Gazette were written by people not otherwise publicly associated with Weinstein or his prior controversies.  Incidentally, each of Weinstein’s historied supporters was also outside of the local Gazette area, while both USAFA defenders were local citizens of Colorado Springs.

Thus, Weinstein’s MRFF continues its portrayal as a self-licking ice cream cone.  Through letter writing campaigns and an apparent lack of full disclosure by its defenders, it apparently tries to create the appearance of a general ground swell of support — but the truth is that it is a small, poorly-credentialed, self-sustaining clique with a shared agenda. 

Combat deployments, resource restrictions, and a high operations tempo often conspire to challenge a military member’s ability to exercise his religious freedom.  But even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, the US military strives to protect that freedom — even if it means, for example, shipping a Jewish Sukkah from the States into the heart of a combat zone in the Arab world.

To date, USAFA has not bowed to Weinstein’s campaign of agitation; the military should be commended for standing behind its support of the Constitutional freedoms of its military members.

In his fade into irrelevancy, Weinstein has simply joined the list of difficulties an Airman, Marine, Soldier or Sailor has to overcome to exercise his religious freedom.


  • Hey, [], why do you state that Elizabeth Sholes “is part of an organization allied with” MRFF but not mention what that organization is? Hmmm … could it be because it’s a Christian organization? I mean, you have no problem including that Jason Torpy is the head of MAAF. Oh yeah … MAAF is an atheist organization. Well, just so your readers know what you are, for some reason, seem to be reluctant to reveal — Elizabeth Sholes is the head of the California Council of Churches IMPACT, an organization representing millions of Christians from over twenty Protestant denominations. Yes, folks, Christians are objecting to McClary, too.
    Edited by Admin.

  • Is there any reason you noted my medical career and not my military career? You found my writings, so you must have read “former Maj, USAF” just as well as you read my two medical degrees. And, how did your list not mention that Paulette Hawkins, author of the first letter, is a Colorado Springs police officer? Did she ruin your “contrast” by having no track record related to MRFF, just like your two anti-MRFF writers? If your readers would like to use their own individual God given brains, review the evidence directly, and come to their own conclusions, they can start here, where you took off, with responses to Wayne Laugesen’s editorial: They, they can work backward through the details or go straight to the lawsuit now in process:

  • One other note: No relation to Mikey, MRFF, or Colorado Springs is required to keep my sworn oath to defend the Constitution from any and all enemies. With the civility inherent in “The pen is mightier than the sword”, I now use the internet to fight great battles from great distances, as required by the same patriotism which led me to serve.

  • Lesley,

    You criticize JD for identifying you in the same matter that you identify yourself on your Gazette comments (“Lesley Shure, MD, DPM” rather than “Lesley Shure, former Maj USAF”). Then you equate the writer of the OPINION piece to the immoral man who shot Rep Giffords. You state the pen is mightier than the sword, but you a quick to jump to other, unsubstantiated conclusions when someone else holds the pen.

    I am curious about your source of information regarding the Academy. If your only source is complaints to MRFF, then you are guilty of selective research. My source of intel is from new Lt’s that come in the squadron – they have a diverse religious background, yet ended up in the same location. Additionally, my own experience (Class 03) is an indicator against your position: I went through the Academy as a Catholic, a group known for religious persecution from some wayward Christian groups, yet during my time there was a dedicated movement to make a better working relationship between the Catholics and the Protestants. Furthermore, I made none of the prayer luncheons, yet ended up with my first choice assignment: a highly coveted spot to a particular pilot training base. I dare say I wasn’t forced to do anything at church.

    One last challenge: if you can’t have a vocal Christian at a voluntary (and I say voluntary in light of the previous paragraph) prayer luncheon, then why have any passionate speakers at all? Forget about competing ideas and freedom of speech.

    I’d expect a former Major to promote free expression than stifle her troop’s Constitutional rights.

  • Lesley Shure :
    Is there any reason you noted my medical career and not my military career? You found my writings, so you must have read “former Maj, USAF” just as well as you read my two medical degrees.

    Don’t majors usually retire as opposed to becoming “former” majors?

  • @Phoenix Blue
    No. A major wouldn’t have 20 years of service.

  • Chris – retiring as a major with 20 years service is very common now. We’ve had 3 retire in 2010 where I work. These fine officers served admirably, just not “top of the crop”.

    I don’t believe JD had some vindictive motive for leaving out Leslie’s military service. Knowing about said service does give some credibly when writing about the Military in general though.

    I’m sure she served admirably too.

  • @watchtower
    I didn’t realize it had become that common. I thought it would only really be common for officers who were enlisted before becoming officers. Either way, the suspicion that Phoenix Blue is attempting to raise is silly. If [a Maj.] got out now, he would be “former,” not “retired.”
    Edited by Admin.

  • It’s not suspicion, it’s an assumed criticism of the possible motives or circumstances in which Ms Shure left as a <20 year major. In reality I don't know why she left, but I'll assume she served admirably until I get information otherwise. I'll debate her points, but I do respect her prior service

  • Hey, JD … why are you editing your real name out of my comments? Aren’t you proud to be a Christian fighter pilot? Why make yourself anonymous? Don’t you want everyone to know who you are?

  • Interesting that Chris Rodda complains about anonymity here…..but on the Gazette discussion boards, she has nothing to say about Richard Baker, the regional representative of the MRFF, making large numbers of hateful, anti-Christian comments under the pseudonym of “rambunctious.”

    A sample:


    11:44 AM on January 26, 2011

    Churches are evil and should be moved against.

    Read more: