Mikey Weinstein Calls for Ouster of Muslim Chaplains
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein — who claims to represent more than 13% of all Muslims in the US military — has effectively called for the military to kick out all Muslim chaplains:
Please listen up; nobody is trying to interfere with the Constitutional rights of military chaplains to hold PERSONAL views that are racist, sexist, and homophobic, etc. Chaplains preach their views according to their denominational endorsing agencies dictates and precepts, that much is understood. However, if chaplains believe that they MUST publicly and visibly preach to their troops a message that their Christian comrades are misled “infidels” because of their “choice” to follow Jesus, then these views are fatally noxious and totally destructive to unit cohesion, good order, morale, and discipline in the armed forces.
Actually, to be accurate, Weinstein didn’t use those exact words. This portion of his actual 1,500-word diatribe was tweaked very slightly, as highlighted, to exchange the topic of homosexuality with Christianity:
Please listen up; nobody is trying to interfere with the Constitutional rights of military chaplains to hold PERSONAL views that are racist, sexist, and homophobic, etc. Chaplains preach their views according to their denominational endorsing agencies dictates and precepts, that much is understood. However, if chaplains believe that they MUST publicly and visibly preach to their troops a message that their LGB comrades are sexual-deviant “sinners” because of their “choice” to be gay, then these views are fatally noxious and totally destructive to unit cohesion, good order, morale, and discipline in the armed forces.
Weinstein’s words equivalently rail against Jewish chaplains, too, or chaplains of any faith system which holds exclusive beliefs (generally, almost every faith system except Unitarianism and some eastern religions). In effect, Weinstein is demanding that all chaplains be kicked out of the military — though he is pretending his attack only relates to theological conflicts with homosexuality. For the most part, it seems the few outlets that have caught wind of his diatribe have largely gone along with his pretense.
Weinstein’s demand is both incoherent and asinine. He first says chaplains can believe what they want and are allowed to preach according to their beliefs — “that much is understood.” He then immediately reverses, without explanation, and says chaplains shouldn’t be allowed to preach according to their beliefs. Such a twisted, self-contradictory prejudice is antithetical to the American value of religious freedom, not just of the chaplains who hold those beliefs, but also for the hundreds of thousands of US troops who are looking to those chaplains for religious support.
Weinstein would remove chaplains from the military service because Mikey Weinstein doesn’t like their particular faith tenets. There is no other reason. Ultimately, he admits as much [formatting original]:
We have NO reason to tolerate such hateful bigotry masquerading as a Constitutionally protected religious freedom, and we have EVERY reason to decisively root it out…
In point of fact, Weinstein has a very GOOD reason to tolerate religious beliefs he doesn’t like — even if he considers them “hateful bigotry” — and to defend them, not “root [them] out.” That reason is religious liberty, enshrined and protected from government intrusion in the First Amendment to the US Constitution:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…
Weinstein says religious beliefs he doesn’t like aren’t worthy of this constitutional protection — a bigoted position that reveals a willful ignorance about the very reason for constitutional protection.
To borrow from the ACLU, Weinstein’s sometime ally, the Constitution isn’t needed to protect religious liberties that everybody agrees with. The Constitution protects all religious liberty — even that which might be offensive, because that is when the government may try to “censor or suppress.”
Weinstein may consider it “hateful bigotry” if a Christian officer believes there is only One way to heaven, and his peers are bound for hell if they do not believe; or if a Muslim Soldier believes his non-Muslim peers are infidels and condemned; or if an atheist Sailor believes his religious peers are brainwashed into believing in fairy tales.
Weinstein’s mere distaste — or the simple disapproval of any other person or government body — doesn’t mean the government can restrict the practice of those beliefs by chaplains or by US troops.
Weinstein’s self-contradicting attacks on religious freedom in the name of “religious freedom” have been long-running, though this is the first time he made it so obvious in a span of just 70 words.
Hundreds of thousands of US troops, and the chaplains that serve them, are able to exercise their religious liberties even as they are deployed around the world. This religious freedom is a hallmark of American society and should be a point of pride and virtue. Fortunately, it is a freedom the US military has largely protected for its troops, even as assailants like Weinstein or others who share his vitriol have decried the exercise of beliefs they dislike.
Some have argued that socially acceptable — or governmental — norms are changing, however, and the practice of religious liberty may again cause a clash of ideals, just as it did more than 200 years ago in America.
We can hope and pray that the Constitution will prevail.