Weinstein Demands Chaplain’s Head for Buddhist Proselytizing?
In a rare break from his focus on Christianity, Military Religious Freedom Foundation “president” Michael Weinstein has called for US Air Force Academy Chaplain (Col) Robert Bruno to be court-martialed for his attempts to convert cadets…to Buddhism:
US Air Force Chaplain Colonel Bruno…should face immediate criminal charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice for these disgusting, prima facie examples of dereliction of duty by flagrant violations of the solemn oaths they took…
Actually, strike that, Weinstein didn’t display that intellectual integrity. Instead, he continued his focus on Christianity:
[Chaplain Bruno is a] heinous Poster Child of unconstitutional, fundamentalist Christian supremacy and exceptionalsm. Thus, [he is a] base and vile criminal and religious predator. Try [him] by courts-martial immediately!
(In his normal pattern of assigning theological titles to persons independent of their actual beliefs, Weinstein oddly lumps Chaplain Bruno — a Catholic — in with his standard rants against the ‘fundamentalist contagion.’)
Naturally, Michael Weinstein isn’t telling the whole story.
As has been noted before, Weinstein has allies within the USAFA faculty, staff, and cadet wing who have provided him with information not otherwise generally available to the public. This allows him to shape the narrative to tell the story he wants to tell, rather than the truth.
For example, Weinstein recently took USAFA to task for a mass email from Chaplain (Col) Bruno advertising a ‘marriage and family seminar.’ As noted previously, Weinstein said
It could not possibly be clearer that the academy deserves its terrible reputation for fundamentalist Christian bias.
What Weinstein fails to mention, of course, is what a USAFA public affairs officer later tried to communicate to the CSIndy‘s Pam Zubeck:
The chaplains sponsor numerous events every day, including weekly religious services at both chapels — and regularly advertise them through email distribution, our weekly base paper and through the chapel website.
In other words, this was just one example of a “regular” pattern of advertising the USAFA chaplaincy (appropriately) does to tell the local military population about the opportunities available to them.
Like, say, the Islamic Eid al Adha. Or Buddhist Tai Chi.
From: Bruno, Robert Col USAF USAFA USAFA/HC
To: Dist P
Subject: Eid Al-Adha Observance & Buddhist Tai Chi Class
This email message and attachments for Distribution P have been approved by Chaplain, Colonel Robert Bruno, US Air Force Academy Chaplain, as an advisory to commanders and as program opportunities open to the entire USAFA community under the sponsorship of the Cadet Wing Chaplain. Participation is on a voluntary basis. Request widest dissemination.
Chaplain, Colonel, USAF
US Air Force Academy Chaplain
USAF Academy, CO 80840-8280
This decidedly non-Christian email announcement was unmentioned by Weinstein.
Same chaplain (Colonel).
Same distribution list.
Same (or potentially more) presence of sectarian content.
And yet, a complete lack of response from Weinstein — no call for court-martial as with the email with Christian content, no claims of Buddhist dominionism or Islamic supremacy as he claimed with the Christian announcement.
The answer is simple: It doesn’t fit Weinstein’s narrative of an attempted Christian takeover of USAFA (and the world). By downplaying, ignoring, or hiding “incidents” in which chaplains promote the religious freedom of non-Christian faiths, Weinstein is able to promote the canard that they’re Christian “supremacists” bent on ‘proselytizing’ young, impressionable cadets at USAFA (or old, impressionable officers and enlisted at every base around the world). After all, one can’t claim “bias,” as Weinstein does, if the email is just one of many reflecting the varied faiths of those in the unit.
Instead of shining a light on the religious picture at USAFA, Weinstein is trying to paint the picture — and he’s quite selective about which colors he’s using. By publicizing some issues and not others, he’s promoting a perception about USAFA that simply isn’t true.
This is only the most recent evidence that, like his research assistant Chris Rodda, Michael Weinstein can’t be trusted to accurately communicate the truth of a situation. He has a personal agenda, and he molds his publicity to advance that agenda — regardless of the truth.
Next time Weinstein hits the CSIndy with a claim of religious malfeasance, to borrow a $10 word, you’d better try to find out what the rest of the story is first. That’s good advice for the small segment of the public that actually reads his vitriol, and also senior reporters who choose to publish it without researching it first.