MRFF Targets Military Ministries. Again.
Speaking for Michael Weinstein and his Military Religious Freedom Foundation, Chris Rodda recently went on the offensive against Officers’ Christian Fellowship, a Christian military ministry. (This isn’t really new. Rick Baker lists virtually every Christian ministry in existence in his frequent diatribes against religious freedom in the military.) Rodda’s write-up sounds like the intro to a Twilight Zone episode:
Throughout the US military…lurks an organization of over 15,500 fundamentalist Christian military officers who think their real duty is not to protect and defend the Constitution, but to raise up “a spiritually transformed military, with ambassadors for Christ in uniform, empowered by the Holy Spirit.” These officers belong to an organization called the Officers’ Christian Fellowship (OCF)…
(Rodda later gives a second nod to the Twilight Zone with the intro to her example, “Imagine for a moment…”.)
Of course, Rodda provides no support for her accusation that any member of OCF thinks their “real duty is not to protect and defend the Constitution.” Remember, Rodda feels no desire to actually defend her positions.
Over the past few years, Rodda and Weinstein have been trying to support the meme that the US Department of Defense is just ‘too Christian’ for non-Christians to be able to effectively use intra-departmental grievance systems. (Two of Weinstein’s four dismissed lawsuits were tossed out precisely for the defendant’s failure to use those systems.) If they can build a case that members of the military can’t use those systems, they can circumvent the military’s grievance systems and finally pursue Weinstein’s vendetta in court. Rodda’s blanket mischaracterizations and caricatures of Christian officers are simply another means to that end.
In the end, Rodda’s article says little of substance. Consistent with her writing “style,” she never explicitly says how any of the people cited in her article violated any policy, regulation, or law (though she repeatedly says “you know its wrong…”).
This may be intentional, as Rodda may realize she would be unable to support her implications and her argument would fail. Thus, she leaves the hanging chad for her supporters to cling to, allowing them to draw the (incorrect but) desired conclusion. It may also simply be that Rodda is unable to articulate a defense of her position, much like Weinstein himself.
In a comment on her own article, however, she clearly says those officers are violating regulations (though she still fails to say how):
You apparently don’t understand that the people in the military who are doing these things are violating the military’s own rules and regulations. All MRFF is trying to do is to get the military to obey its OWN rules and regulations.
Pop quiz: What regulation prevents a military officer from posting his religious beliefs on the internet or otherwise making them public? Answer: There isn’t one.
Either way, it’s important to note the majority of Rodda’s article does not criticize the membership of OCF for any conduct. She holds them up for mockery and derision simply for their beliefs — just for being Christian. In fact, the final third of her article is only direct quotations of the Christian testimonies of military officers. Rodda implies the mere statement of Christian beliefs is somehow wrong. Actually, this is one of the few things on which she explicitly takes a position (albeit unsupported):
U.S. miltary [sic] officers who are afraid of “violating the uniform code of military justice, command policy or regulations” by publicly espousing their religious views is a problem? To the rest of us that’s a solution!
The research assistant of Michael Weinstein’s “religious freedom” group thinks officers “publicly espousing their religious views” is wrong. And Weinstein claims to defend the US Constitution?
The MRFF seems to think these officers are not the “right kind of Christian” and are therefore undeserving of religious freedom.
Contrary to the beliefs of Weinstein’s “charity,” members of the military are permitted to hold, express, and practice their religious beliefs, whether they are Christian, Islamic, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, atheist, or any other kind of beliefs.
Rodda’s accusations are on the cusp of a “slippery slope:” She asserts a military officer cannot express his religious beliefs because of the environment it creates if his subordinates know his beliefs. The next logical step is a military officer should not be able to practice those beliefs. After all, you can’t have subordinates see a superior officer walk into a Mormon temple or Jewish synagogue — then they’d know their superiors’ religious beliefs and suddenly be unable to function. Or something.
Of course, the MRFF could always ask that its current role as arbiter of what is and is not the “right kind” of Christianity be made official by the military. Then the military could simply ask Weinstein if a person’s religious beliefs were acceptable for a military leadership position, and everyone would be happy. There are certainly issues with that concept, too.
The simplest way to prevent Rodda’s hypothetical hypersensitive offense is to ban religious belief in military leadership positions altogether. Then Weinstein, Rodda, and others who are so hypersensitive to Christians they think saying “I am a Christian” is illegal would finally be assured that no Christian would ever be in a position of military leadership.
And Michael Weinstein would finally achieve the objective of his “religious freedom” charity.