Mikey Weinstein to Sue after General Endorses MRFF?
Actually, this time, Weinstein didn’t threaten a lawsuit or demand a court-martial when a senior military leader seemed to endorse a non-Federal entity — because this time the non-Federal entity was his own MRFF.
In a letter thanking Michael “Mikey” Weinstein for providing a briefing to the “senior leadership of the New Mexico National Guard,” New Mexico Adjutant General BGen Andrew Salas gave what could be interpreted as an endorsement of Weinstein’s MRFF [emphasis added]:
When it comes to the special and deeply personal freedom of religious faith, leaders should consider the MRFF as a key resource in helping them guarantee the religious freedom all service-members [sic] are entitled to [sic]…
This [religious freedom] right is worth carefully considering, treasuring, safeguarding, and the MRFF is a tool that should be counted upon to help along the way.
Weinstein proudly publicized the letter, saying the BGen “prais[ed] the MRFF.”
Would that make Mikey Weinstein a hypocrite?
In 2007, Weinstein railed against several General officers who appeared in a video — in uniform — saying that they were profoundly affected in a positive way by the ministry Christian Embassy. They did not call for their subordinates to join the group, they did not afford them special federal favors, nor did they solicit donations.
Yet Weinstein demanded the heads of those involved, calling for courts-martial and Congressional hearings, as well as repeatedly claiming he was going to file a lawsuit over the “horrific” situation. True, Weinstein focused on the religious aspect of the comments, but he called the final IG report — which found no religious issues but did cite improper endorsement of non-Federal entities — a “victory.” Chris Rodda even admitted the IG report had “opened a door” for the MRFF, which, having lost the religion angle, would now attack Christians in the military based on their associations with non-Federal entities.
Granted, the leaders at the Pentagon were active duty, while BGen Salas is a member of the National Guard (and technically only a General in New Mexico, for now).
Of course, Weinstein has leveled those same kinds of attacks at other military leaders — including National Guard leaders. In August of 2012 Weinstein called for the court-martial of BGen Salas’ new peer, the Adjutant General of Indiana, MajGen R. Martin Umbarger, when he appeared in a video for Centurion’s Watch and asked his troops to support that charity.
MajGen Umbarger did specifically solicit donations — but that wasn’t the focus of Weinstein’s complaint. Weinstein cried foul because
Maj. General Umbarger is incontrovertibly endorsing…a private sector entity…
It would seem that Weinstein has a real problem with the perception that a senior military leader might be endorsing a non-Federal entity…
…unless that non-Federal entity is Weinstein’s Military Religious Freedom Foundation.
Did BGen Salas actually endorse the MRFF? It ultimately doesn’t matter — just as it didn’t matter with Generals Dempsey, Umbarger, Sutton, or Caslen. The point is Weinstein considered similar conduct illegal when it dealt with Christianity, but he bragged about it when it dealt with himself. Weinstein’s goal is clearly not principled ‘religious freedom’ — he has a clear faith-based vendetta.
Military leaders should be free to engage their community in support for their troops — whether that is Christian Embassy, Centurion’s Watch, ThanksUSA — or, quite frankly, the MRFF, if they really believe that to be the case. Given General Dempsey’s example, it seems they are generally free to do so, though some may avoid it out of an abundance of caution. That they may hesitate to do so is a product almost exclusively of Weinstein’s own campaign to stigmatize religious freedom in the US military.
Weinstein appears to have successfully created an environment where military leaders may be afraid to engage with a religious charitable organization that may benefit their troops — but seem to feel free to engage his.
Well played, to his advantage, anyway.