Mikey Weinstein Pummeled After Prayer Breakfast Complaint
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein filed a complaint with the Inspector General at Maxwell Air Force Base because the 42d Air Base wing commander, Col Erik Shafa, sent out an invitation to the National Prayer Breakfast. As reported by the Air Force Times:
Mikey Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, filed a third-party complaint…claiming the invite constituted a clear violation of Air Force Instruction 1-1, Section 2.12, Balance of Free Exercise of Religion and Establishment Clause.
Fortunately, Mikey Weinstein has been almost universally panned for the outlandish accusation.
As noted before, Weinstein assumes US troops are either cowards or sycophants — he thinks they either lack the intestinal fortitude to decline such an invitation, or they will attend solely to ingratiate themselves with their leadership.
Put another way, Tony Carr at John Q. Public wrote (in a cleverly titled “Why Weinstein is Right About Prayer Breakfast Invitation“) [emphasis added]:
The legal question is whether the Establishment Clause is implicated, and it isn’t. There’s nothing coercive about Shafa using his organizational email box to send the invitation. We can’t, on the one hand, expect maturity and moral courage from airmen while on the other hand pretending their will is so fragile as to be broken with the force of a thumb pushing down on a blade of grass.
Weinstein’s accusations don’t say much for character of US troops, do they?
That those who attend may actually want to do so, or that the vast majority of the US military doesn’t even care and won’t attend, is irrelevant to Weinstein.
As before, the Air Force should acknowledge the complaint and then tell Weinstein nothing more. It should then assess the complaint as frivolous and dismiss it.
The Air Force Times article essentially just republished the MRFF press release without critique or outside confirmation, including the farcical claim — stated as fact — that “more than 40 people at Maxwell Air Force Base contacted” Weinstein to complain. As noted previously, Mikey Weinstein pads his numbers by proactively seeking internal MRFF support after receiving a complaint, making his complainant-counts meaningless.
The AFTimes article posted on Facebook generated about 200 comments — almost universally derogatory toward Weinstein and the asinine complaint. Many of the comments came from self-identified career veterans who said to varying degrees they’d never attended a prayer breakfast during decades of service — and yet never saw anything of it.
Mikey Weinstein has tried this before — in fact, it might even be an annual event, as with Weinstein’s complaints last year about Chaplain Buford and Quantico. (The Marine Corps was quick to dismiss the complaint as wrong on all counts.)
Similarly, Mikey Weinstein filed a lawsuit over the prayer breakfast at the US Air Force Academy in 2011. The lawsuit was immediately dismissed because his plaintiff — lackey USAFA professor David Mullin — failed to show there was any “real” prospect of retribution for not attending a prayer breakfast. In fact, just like Weinstein’s current critics, Mullin admitted he’d never previously attended a prayer breakfast and had never faced retaliation. The entire concept of coercion by command influence because of a commander’s invitation to a prayer breakfast was fiction.
Keep that in mind: There are at least two recent examples of Mikey Weinstein complaining about invitations to prayer events: Both were immediately dismissed, and Weinstein sulked off to find another fundraising source. Nothing more came of it, despite the military’s refusal to kowtow to Weinstein.
There is nothing wrong with a commander sending out a form-letter invitation to the base’s prayer breakfast any more than a commander sending out something similar for African-American History month, or Memorial Day, or the “Gay Pride” events that will happen this summer.
If a subordinate disagrees or is offended by the email, they’re issued the same delete key as everyone else.
On the other hand, one could fairly easily argue commanders are — by regulation — responsible for the holistic health of their troops, including their spiritual well-being. Thus, one could actually say Col Shafa was fulfilling his duties in informing his troops about the event.
In the end, given the history of these complaints from Weinstein, it is unlikely any rational conclusion from the Air Force will substantiate Weinstein’s claims — but that doesn’t stop him from milking the publicity his complaint has generated. Perhaps the best news is that Weinstein will make a name for himself early on in the Trump administration.
Given President Trump’s public position on religious liberty, and his no-nonsense Secretary of Defense James Mattis, it’s possible Mikey Weinstein may soon do little more than make noise — that, and collect a sizeable salary from donations to his “charity”, of course.