MRFF Supporters Validate Weinstein’s Agenda

Want to know what Michael Weinstein and his self-founded Military Religious Freedom Foundation stand for?  Ask his staff and supporters., which has a close relationship with Leah Burton — one of two members of Michael Weinstein’s MRFF board — recently hosted a fundraiser for the MRFF in coordination with the Fort Bragg “Rock Beyond Belief.”  They were bringing in money for three reasons, in their own words:

(1) the soliders [sic] at Ft. Bragg who face potential legal challenges in having their Rock Beyond Belief secular alternative to Frankin Graham’s Rock the Fort proselytizing concert

(2) legal representation of service members nationwide who face discriminatory “Spiritual Fitness Tests” and

(3) the general fight against Christian extremism within the Armed Forces.

It’s interesting they’d raise funds for (1) “potential legal challenges” for “Rock Beyond Belief,” since RBB’s organizers have already demurred on any lawsuit in favor of simply following the same guidance as every other organization. Still, it is probably the most well-known military/religious controversy right now, making it an excellent fundraising vehicle, if nothing else.

Over the past six months there have been little more than insinuations about a “potential lawsuit” over the US Army’s Global Assessment Tool, which critics have characterized as a (2) “religious test.”  This remains one of many open Weinstein legal threats; again, useful for fundraising, but there is no public indication it is actually going anywhere.

Finally, the (3) “general fight against Christian extremism.”  Notice “religious freedom” isn’t mentioned anywhere in the fundraising effort — despite being in the name of Weinstein’s “charity” — and Christianity is the only faith mentioned.  Weinstein and his crew like to use the “I have friends that are…” argument (his claim that “96%” of his “clients” are Christians) as a defense against critics who say he is targeting people of a certain belief (Christians).  However, it would seem even his fundraising supporters are rallying around the “Christian” theme evident in Weinstein’s tilting crusade — so it’s not just the critics who see the truth in the trend.

As to “extremism,” it is defined by Weinstein as it fits his personal agenda at the moment.  For example, Weinstein apparently thinks US Marines are extremists when they choose to be baptized, as he loudly criticized (rather than defended) their religious freedom when they participated in that religious act.

Naturally, funds raised by these staff and supporters are bound for Weinstein’s MRFF:

Funds are going to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), legal counsel in these matters, a non-profit organization.

How badly does the MRFF need these funds?  They said

Defending the First Amendment Constitutional rights of our active duty service members runs about approximately $65,000 per month.

Interesting number, as four years ago Weinstein (inaccurately) claimed it was $75,000 a month.  Still, $65,000 per month is annually $780,000 — nearly a quarter of a million dollars more than the MRFF expenses have actually “run” for each of the last three years.

Would Weinstein’s agenda really be harmed that much if they used real numbers verifiable with publicly available documents?  For those who struggle with higher order math, expenses of $549,000 a year (Weinstein’s actual 2009 costs) are “approximately” $46,000 a month, not $75,000 (even rounding up).

Of course, it is also worth remembering that “approximately” $25,000 per month goes directly to Michael Weinstein’s personal compensation.  That’s “approximately” how much one MRFF military “client” made in an entire year.

In his defense, Weinstein has filed lawsuits on behalf of these clients — but every single one was dismissed before trial, and Weinstein never bothered to file a single appeal (though he blustered he would do so at any moment).  Despite claiming he is defending their “freedoms,” his public actions indicate he’s done little more than use them as pawns for his personal agenda — and as vehicles for his fundraising.

The words and actions of his own staff and supporters bear that out.

Speaking of supporters, how did the “groundswell” of grass roots fundraising fare?  At last count, in three months they had raised $537 of their $50,000 goal.  That would “approximately” fund Weinstein’s paycheck — and nothing else in his “charity” — until a little after lunch on a single day.