Mikey Weinstein Gets Creative with the Facts. Again.

Michael “Mikey” Weinstein recently celebrated the “anniversary” of his idea to create his Military Religious Freedom Foundation:

Ten years ago on this day, the idea for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation came when USAFA cadets were forced to attend screenings of Passion of the Christ.

That does sound pretty bad, particularly since Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ has nothing to do with the mission of USAFA.

Too bad Weinstein isn’t telling the truth.

In 2004 — and for 6 years thereafter — neither Weinstein nor anyone else ever said anyone was forced to watch a movie, despite his repeated referral to that event. This is what he did say in years past:

[In] the early part of February 2004 when the Mel Gibson movie came out…“Passion of the Christ.” I found out at that time…that the administration was putting tremendous pressure on the 4,400 cadets and 6,000 staff to go see that movie.

I was surprised that I had not heard about this from my three children that were at the Academy at the time. So I asked them and they said, “Yeah, it is terrible. It is everywhere we look…flyers are put on our plates, in the academic buildings the walls are covered with these posters exhorting us with this stuff.”

That was in 2008, years after the incident, and still Weinstein didn’t say anyone was forced to watch a movie, even though that would have certainly have been newsworthy. In a 2010 interview, six years after the “scandal,” the story suddenly changed:

In the interview, Weinstein says he can “basically trace the start of the foundation” to the fact his children at the Air Force Academy “were being forced to go see” Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ, and “that’s what stimulated this particular fight.” The interviewer is understandably surprised by Weinstein’s assertion that his children were forced to watch Gibson’s movie. With some crosstalk:

AMT: “Really?”
Weinstein: “Yes…”
AMT: “It was part of the curriculum…?”
Weinstein: “It was worse than that…”

In 2005, Weinstein filed a lawsuit against USAFA, accusing it of persecuting non-Christians. He didn’t even mention the movie (the lawsuit was dismissed before going to trial). The Americans United for the Separation of Church and State filed their own complaint that did mention the movie — but didn’t assert anyone was forced to watch it. The official US Air Force investigation similarly contained only cadet complaints about the advertising of the film — no cadet complained they were forced to watch it.

The complaint is even documented in “Clear and Present Danger” as the first in a collection of incidents from the Military Religious Freedom Coalition, and points out the fact the public complainant was Weinstein’s son, Casey (who was also plaintiff on his father’s lawsuit):

Casey Weinstein – 2004

United States Air Force (USAF) Academy grad (1977) and attorney, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s son, Casey, was a USAF Academy cadet at this time. Casey complained that flyers that were placed on all cadets’ breakfast plates advertising Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ.

Despite Weinstein’s accusation, no statement attributed to any person has claimed any cadet was “forced to attend screenings” of The Passion of the Christ — even statements from Weinstein’s own son, whom Weinstein said in 2010 had been “forced to go see” the movie.

Is it possible someone came forward after 2010 to claim they were forced to watch the movie? Extremely unlikely, but physically possible.  The more likely scenario is, in a period of years, Weinstein’s story morphed from being a heavily advertised movie — advertised by the chapel, by the way — to a movie that cadets were forced to watch…because the “revised edition” made for better press.

Why does Weinstein have a problem telling the truth?

The answer is pretty simple. One thing Weinstein does well is understand the soundbite culture. It takes too long to explain what really happened, so he dumbs it down to a seven-word phrase that will get attention — a phrase he never intends to defend or explain.

Weinstein knows that by making outrageous statements he may get the attention of a media outlet or other organization that will give him a (free) platform. When asked about the outrageous statement, he’ll parry it and transition to one of his talking points, as he’s done for years. For example, though Weinstein routinely cites “thousands” of “clients” to validate his cause, only one reporter ever got Weinstein to define what he classifies as an MRFF “client.” Despite his bellicose rants, no one has ever managed to get Weinstein to provide an example of a military member who wants to start a nuclear war to speed the return of Christ — despite Weinstein’s claim that Christians who want to do just that make up a substantial part of the US military.

To emphasize the point, Weinstein has now repeatedly done the same thing as Chris Rodda: he has made assertions that are demonstrably inconsistent with all publicly available information.

If Mikey Weinstein can’t tell the truth when the information is public, how can he be trusted to be truthful when making accusations based on information to which only he is privy?

In short, he can’t.