Mikey Weinstein Calls for Court-Martial of General Craig Olson
Olson was “not simply a harmless howdy-doody/’Stepford Wife/Ned Flanders type of character delivering homilies and platitudes to his assembled flock of like-minded fools.” He was, instead, part of a “Christian triumphalist” plan to subdue America, Weinstein wrote.
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein published a press release last week calling for the court-martial of Major General Craig Olson, who was the representative for the US military at the National Day of Prayer on May 7th.
You can watch the video of General Olson’s 20 minute talk at the National Day of Prayer courtesy of the MRFF, which recorded the broadcast and uploaded it here. In it, General Olson says:
I’ve been with fellow redeemed Christians who happen to be educators, who happen to be businessmen, who happen to be medical professionals, who happen to be public officers. I’m just a Christian who happens to be in the Air Force. So we all have things we do but we’re believers, when we love Christ and we love this nation. That’s the point of America. We get to be out and about in America as believers in the various places God appoints us.
Gen Olson spoke repeatedly of having experiences that reminded him of his reliance upon God. He spoke of the need for prayer for our military.
This is what Weinstein said in response:
Olson’s highly publicized, sectarian speech is nothing less than a brutal disgrace to the very uniform he was wearing and the solemn oath he took to support and defend the United States Constitution…
[Olson is] an active duty Air Force General Officer boastfully proselytizing and freely witnessing his personal brand of his own fundamentalist flavor of his evangelical Christian faith…
Major General Olson’s [speech was a] screed of fundamentalist Christian triumphalism…
[There is an] obvious clear and present danger to our nation’s critical national security safety [sic] created by the tragic juxtaposition and unlawful conflation of Major General Olson’s senior military command position with his twenty minute “sermon” of fundamentalist Christian extremism…
The [MRFF]…demands that Major General Craig S. Olson be immediately, aggressively and very visibly brought to justice for his unforgivable crimes and transgressions via trial by General Courts Martial…
Gen Olson’s talk was moving and inspirational. It was not negative. It was not demeaning. It did not remotely grant the appearance that the US Air Force officially endorsed a particular religious viewpoint. Gen Olson did not do or say anything untoward, illicit, or illegal. So why does Mikey Weinstein even care?
In some ways, General Olson may represent all that Weinstein hates: Not only is he a successful military Christian, but Gen Olson also became a Christian as a USAFA cadet after he was invited to a Bible study — an act Weinstein would like to see prohibited in today’s military.
More likely, though, Weinstein doesn’t actually care about Gen Olson at all. What Weinstein wants is publicity. Weinstein and his acolytes (largely, his assistant Chris Rodda) have railed against the National Day of Prayer for years. Weinstein has a special hatred for Dr. James Dobson, whose wife, Shirley, heads up the sponsoring National Day of Prayer Task Force. (Some MRFFites even think Dobson is trying to take over the world. Seriously.)
All that railing, though, has accomplished nothing. Does anyone even remember that the MRFF complained about the National Day of Prayer last year, too? The annual MRFF complaint about the NDoP barely registers.
To finally get some attention, Weinstein dialed up the invective and personalized it — in fact, he made it very personal, attacking not only what Gen Olson did, but also attacking Gen Olson himself, describing him as having an
insipid “Stepford Wife”, smiling face, [and] nonverbal punctuation…
Apparently “nonverbal punctuation” is criminal, according to the MRFF.
So there’s actually nothing new here. Weinstein has simply updated his attack on the National Day of Prayer, and, given the amount of coverage his “call for court-martial” has received, it would seem his tactic worked.
At least, it worked in that Weinstein received publicity (as did the General’s talk, which has been watched nearly five times more than Maj Gen Ward’s 2014 NDoP talk). Most of the attention he’s received has been negative, largely due to his obviously vitriolic attack on both the character and conduct of a man who calmly spoke of the need for prayer for the US military and the nation. Most news reports are quoting Weinstein’s adjective-infused invective, at which even MRFF staffers groan and even MRFF supporters recoil, and which is in stark contrast to the heartfelt words of kindness and compassion from General Olson. A not insignificant number of self-identified atheists have come out in defense of the General — noting the same religious freedom that protects General Olson also protects them.
So will it be good or bad for Weinstein, whose personal paycheck makes up the single largest expense of his “charity”? It’s hard to say. It is exceedingly unlikely that Gen Olson will face repercussions despite Weinstein’s public attack, particularly given the attention religious freedom — and the ability to exercise one’s faith — has received by both the US Congress and the US Air Force. The Air Force response to media inquiries on this topic was almost supportive:
“I can tell you the Air Force places a high value on the rights of its members to observe the tenets of their respective religion or to observe no religion at all,” Lt. Col. Allen Herritage said in an email. “The Air Force is dedicated to maintaining an environment in which people can realize their highest potential.”
Bravo to the Air Force for making the first priority the importance of religious freedom. If Gen Olson did face sanction, however, it might turn into a pyrrhic victory for Weinstein. While he would draw more anti-Christian supporters to his ranks, Weinstein has historically relied on grants from other organizations — like the Rockefeller Family Fund — for a substantial portion of his income. If those organizations aren’t quite so on board with his attack on a military officer speaking about God, Weinstein could end up hurting his bottom line.
The most likely result is, publicly at least, nothing. Since the US military stopped giving Weinstein unusually unfettered access to military leaders, Weinstein’s attacks have gone largely unrequited. In a few months, Weinstein will list this attack on General Olson as one of his accomplishments for the year in his fundraising letter but, fortunately, little will have changed.
Religious freedom — the human liberty oxymoronically in the center of Mikey Weinstein’s foundation name — is a strongly guarded precept in the United States.
An American can stand in front of an audience and speak of his faith in God, even when he is in a military uniform, and even when his speech is broadcast for others to see. He is exercising the rights he protects, as the last Secretary of Defense encouraged. Mikey Weinstein is free, as well, to both criticize and profit from his attacks. But the burr in Weinstein’s saddle over Christianity is insufficient cause for the government to restrict the liberties of US troops.
In more ways than one, General Olson showed what makes this country great.
May God bless General Olson, the Air Force, and the United States of America.