Pastor Defends Christian Fighter Pilot from Mikey Weinstein

Wade Burleson pastors Emmanuel Baptist Church in Enid, Oklahoma, which is the home of Vance Air Force Base — where Christina “Thumper” Hopper serves as a Reserve Air Force instructor pilot. After Michael “Mikey” Weinstein blasted Christina online for her public profession of faith in God, Burleson took to his own blog to defend his congregant [formatting original]:

It seems Mr. Mikey was offended when he read an article last week from the Vance Air Force Base Public Affairs magazine that highlighted Christina and her recent accomplishments as a triathlete…Here are the reporter’s words about Christina, comparing her triathlete training to life:

“The triathlon courses are designed by others, but Christina’s life’s trail is directed by faith. Faith in God, faith in those she is close to and faith in the belief that life’s spoils, whether they be triathlon finishes, flying or family, are blessings.”

Faith in God.

These are three words that caused Mr. Weinstein offense. It seems Mikey Weinstein believes that no United States Air Force pilot should ever publicly voice faith in God, but instead, promote faith in the Constitution of the United States.

He concludes, noting:

The Weinsteins of this world–those who wish to sanitize all mention of God from our United States military personnel–exhibit a weakness that our American forefathers never possessed.

Burleson’s blog was apparently so well-worded and received that it garnered a significant amount of attention — which caused members of Weinstein’s group to dog-pile in the comments section in defense of their leader. Even Chris Rodda and Rick Baker, both of whom frequent here (though generally silently), emerged from sequester to impart their words of “wisdom.” The general theme of the MRFF response was, of course, that by defending Christina against Weinstein, Burleson revealed himself as a Christian extremist who wants to take over the world. Naturally.

For several years Christians in the US military had no vocal defenders to help against the onslaught of Mikey Weinstein’s vitriol. As a result, he scored “victories” not necessarily in policy but in a hyper-sensitized military leadership culture that self-censored (or demanded that others do so) purely to avoid Weinstein’s attention.

Now, a wide variety of religious liberty groups have stepped up to publicly defends US troops attacked by Mikey Weinstein because of their faith. As a result, much of Weinstein’s prior gains have been lost, and liberty is at least initially presumed if not always outright protected.

In that vein, it is admirable that Burleson would publicly speak out on Christina’s behalf. When a person of respect and repute lends support, it encourages not only the one defended but also others who may share their beliefs.

After all, how many Christians do you think there are in the US military who would say they try to do everything for the glory of God?

Thanks, Wade. Your simple and forceful rebuttal helped voice a defense for the religious liberty of more than a million people.