ACLJ Rebuts Mikey Weinstein and the “Ignoramus’ Veto”
Update: Covered by the Christian Post.
Skip Ash and Wesley Smith of the ACLJ wrote two pieces over the past two days taking Michael “Mikey” Weinstein to task for his latest assault on Christians in the US military. Smith’s article, entitled “Military Religious Freedom Foundation: A Misnomer?“, noted that Weinstein’s charity seems to have a nobly stated purpose — though its actions are quite the opposite:
There has never been a more antagonistic and persistent adversary of religious freedom in the ranks of the United States Armed Forces…I witnessed the inordinate amount of time and energy spent responding to the numerous demand letters and threats of litigation from Weinstein and his organization.
Virtually every program designed to enhance the free exercise of religion, promote the spiritual well-being of Soldiers…, or to acknowledge that our inalienable human rights are given to us not by the government, but by our Creator, was met by the vitriol and threats of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and Mikey Weinstein.
For those that have followed Mikey Weinstein’s antics and tantrums over the past few years, Smith’s summary is a statement of the obvious. While there are certainly others like Mikey Weinstein in the United States — those who have a seething hatred for and personal vendetta against Christians and Christianity — Weinstein seems to be the one with the biggest mouth and the biggest paycheck. While those others are ignored, Weinstein has occasionally found a sympathetic ear in the Pentagon, where high ranking officers — those with substantial sway over military policy — have apparently shared his disdain for Christians and acted to further his anti-Christian cause.
Thus, the ACLJ needed to respond to Weinstein’s latest attack claiming chaplains should be court-martialed for praying in uniform at an event hosted by chaplain endorsers.
Skip Ash wrote the second article, entitled “No, Mikey, the Sky Isn’t Falling: Defending Chaplains from Anti-Christian Zealots,” in which he also announced the letter sent by the ACLJ to the DoD Inspector General, who was the recipient of Weinstein’s last salvo. For those that try to adhere to the Christian values of perseverance and Christ-like love in this era of social hostility toward Christians, Ash shared a familiar feeling:
I have to confess that it’s getting more and more difficult for me to “speak the truth in love” to some people. Some folks are just never going to get it, no matter what we do. It’s like casting pearls before swine.
Ash summarizes Weinstein’s long-known disdain for Christians, then quickly and calmly disassembles Weinstein’s argument. And that is perhaps one of the greatest strengths of the ACLJ and other religious liberty groups like them: unlike Weinstein, they can convey their message in a reasonable, logical, and adult fashion. By contrast, Weinstein frequently sounds like he’s a two-year old throwing a tantrum, chin jutted out in defiance — a tone that makes even some of his staunchest allies cringe.
Further, the ACLJ and other religious liberty groups are able to communicate a far more tolerant position that, besides being consistent with the law and the US Constitution, also supports the diversity that the military claims it values so much:
Constitutional rights must depend on reasonable men and women who understand that, in a free society like ours, we are likely to hear sentiments—both religious and non-religious—that may offend us. Our Constitution protects the right of others to say things we find offensive. That is the hallmark of a free society.
For those that don’t know Mikey Weinstein, it may seem a great irony that those ‘mean, uncaring Christians’ are the ones actually advocating the more “liberal” position.
The letter (PDF) sent by the ACLJ continues that tone, acknowledging that Mikey Weinstein and others like him are free to hold ideas hostile to Christians — but the government is not obligated to acquiesce to him.
The ACLJ’s 12-page letter borrows some from their last letter in explaining the history of Mikey Weinstein — an apparent necessity in that some within the military, believe it or not, haven’t heard of him. This is important because a few leaders in the military have been caught flat-footed essentially furthering Mikey Weinstein’s personal vendetta against Christians, only to have the military publicly about-face when confronted with the facts.
The letter notes that in Weinstein’s demands for restriction of religious liberty, he singles out religion for disparate treatment in an effort to create the very discrimination he claims he is fighting:
Despite repeated pious declarations that he is fighting for religious freedom and tolerance, Mr. Weinstein is in reality a serial purveyor of religious bigotry…
Thus, the ACLJ implored [formatting original]
The DoD IG should not play any part in Mr. Weinstein’s game!
Specific to Weinstein’s accusations about the chaplains “endorsing” anything in this case, the ACLJ at one point cited Americans United for the Separation of Church and State v City of Grand Rapids, in which the court found that “a reasonable person, and any minimally informed person, knows that no endorsement is intended.”
The court characterized such a hypersensitive response as a form of heckler’s veto, to which the court aptly applied the label, “‘ignoramus’ veto.'”
Now that is apt.
The ACLJ also noted that in one case, Weinstein pulled a Chris Rodda and said the chaplains were wrong to wear their uniforms, but never cited any regulation to support his claim. The ACLJ found one to which he might have been alluding — and then showed how it did not apply.
Concluding, the ACLJ said
Mr. Weinstein’s allegations are baseless, and they must be treated as such by you.
That’s an unusually important point. As more than one commander has found out, all they have to do is tell Weinstein “Thank you for your interest in our national defense. Have a nice day…” and then ignore him. Mikey Weinstein
may will pout, he may even threaten a lawsuit (no worries, he’s a paper tiger), and then he will go away. His next letter will be written to someone else, as he tries to find someone who is more amenable to his cause — that is, engaging the machinery of the state to further his personal vendetta against Christians.
The ACLJ’s petition on the issue has already passed 64,000 signatures.
Because the IG complaint came from an external third party, the IG is not obligated to respond to Weinstein. And, as the ACLJ encourages, they would do best not to do so.
As the ACLJ has said repeatedly, Mikey Weinstein is free to exercise his right to attack Christians in the military. But,
as Americans, we don’t have to yield to the demands of the religiously hypersensitive like Mr. Weinstein and his supporters. We can stand up and be counted. We must have our voices heard.
It is encouraging to have groups stand up for military religious freedom. Defending the liberty of those who defend America is a pretty good way to “support the troops.”
Make your voice heard.