Mikey Weinstein Demands Air Force Punish Chaplains for Doing Their Job
Mikey Weinstein May Demand Colored Crosses on Air Force Uniforms
It would seem Michael “Mikey” Weinstein wants to the US military to segregate US troops by their religion.
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base has yet again become the target of a complaint by Weinstein. (The frequency isn’t due to Wright-Patt’s behavior, but the presence of Mikey Weinstein’s friends and family.) This time, Wright-Patt did precisely what Mikey Weinstein wanted — and he still demanded “punishment” for people’s “dangerous violations of Air Force regulations.”
The offense? The Wing Chaplain’s office sent out an email to the Wing.
The core of the email was simple, as forwarded to Weinstein by a sympathizer:
The 88th ABW Chapel Team invites you to a premier leadership training event! The “Global Leadership Summit” is a 2-day live simulcast, faith-based event — hosted by world class faculty drawn from corporate, academic, and religious settings. The event will be held 10–11 August, 0900–1630 and is for everyone interested in growing their leadership skills!
…see the…list of guest speakers, who many will incorporate Biblical leadership principles into every day decision making.
Everyone has influence and the ability to create positive change. When you improve your leadership, you impact lives, churches, businesses, governments, schools and families. Come and better yourself and your unit by becoming the leader you were meant to be.
Seems benign enough, and it even came unsigned from the “chapel team,” not any commander. Thus, not a possible hint of coercion, just a simple announcement — following Air Force guidance brought about by Mikey Weinstein’s prior “victories.” That’s what he wanted, right?
Weinstein and his supporters were apparently so aggrieved that they waited more than two weeks to file a “complaint” (meaning they had to figure out how to be offended, or they tried to time the complaint for effect). The message bears Weinstein’s name but clearly wasn’t written by him; it lacks his gratuitous verbal “flair” and style — meaning it was probably written by Chris Rodda or another MRFF “contractor.” The entire setup seems precisely that: set up. It’s manufactured outrage, or “fake news,” to borrow a term in vogue.
So why wasn’t Mikey Weinstein happy with Wright Patt? The email went to everyone in the Wing — and Weinstein claims it should have been sent out based on individuals’ religious beliefs, as tracked and recorded by the Air Force. He claimed:
The “Global Leadership Summit” should be “advertised” ONLY to base personnel included on religious index email lists representing (protestant) “contemporary, gospel, and community” worshiping groups…
In other words, Mikey Weinstein wants the Air Force to track Airmen’s religions and censor communications based on religious belief. But wait, there’s more:
In the alternative, a “Prot_All” (all personnel listed with a religious category of “Protestant” in base personnel files) email “advertisement”…might be used…
So the chaplain’s need to first filter their communications through “base personnel files” that identify the religious beliefs of troops. But even that isn’t good enough for Weinstein:
However, advertising this event to “all protestants” offensively over-targets the advertisement…
So it’s not enough to identify the Protestants — the Air Force, as an institution, has to identify troops’ specific religious tenets and then segregate them to make Mikey Weinstein happy.
It’s an interesting, if backwards and bigoted, way to view the world.
And just how should the Air Force meet Weinstein’s demands? Do Airmen need to sign statements when they join that detail their religious beliefs, so their records — and maybe even their uniforms — can be altered to easily identify them? Should they be forced to update these records every six months in a new semi-annual ancillary training requirement? Even then, how would the chaplaincy identify those Airmen? Yellow stars were used by a government last century. Perhaps Mikey Weinstein has something similar in mind to distinguish military Christians. Maybe crosses sewn into their uniforms, color-coded by the belief sets that Mikey Weinstein designates?
Weinstein did go so far as to explain why he picked the groups he did:
These groups most closely value and practice the style of worship and fundamentalist evangelical theological perspective of the [event]…
The theological perspectives of Protestant “liturgical, and traditional” worshipers…is profoundly distinct from, and in many cases, opposes the overtly mercantile approach and fundamentalist perspective of Christian Evangelicals.
Thank you, Mikey Weinstein, for telling other people what they believe and how they should exercise their faith.
Note Weinstein made a verbal slip and called out “Christian Evangelicals,” a term not used elsewhere nor by the Air Force. It seems he’s revealed the real reason he’s so offended: It’s The “Evangelicals” !!11!1! — the Christians with whom Mikey Weinstein is in a self-declared “war”.
Weinstein made a half-hearted attempt to claim AFI 52-101 requires the Air Force to restrict its distributions as he has demanded [emphasis added, brackets original]:
According to Air Force regulations, the appropriate advertisement of this event must be specifically limited to those persons worshiping within the denominational constraints and articulated beliefs of Evangelical and Dominionist Protestant Christians. [See AFI 52-101.4]
Fortunately, the AFI is publicly available, and anyone can pull it up and see AFI 52-101 says no such thing. The only “advertising” in AFI 52-101 involves how to “title” different Sunday morning worship services, and it doesn’t even say what criteria should be used in the titling. It says nothing about how messages are transmitted or communicated; in fact, those descriptions would still go out to all troops so the troops could decide what service to attend. The AFI is for the benefit of the Airmen — so they can have the information they need to take advantage of the Air Force’s spiritual support resources.
Weinstein is taking something that’s intended to help troops and trying to turn it into some kind of discriminatory restriction. The AFI doesn’t say anything remotely like that. Even Chris Rodda should have caught that.
Ironically — more accurately, hypocritically — Weinstein has gone through this before. He demanded the court-martial of USAFA’s top chaplain, Chaplain (Col) Robert Bruno, (whom he called a “vile criminal”) way back in 2011 for sending out a wing-wide announcement regarding a marriage seminar — because, in Weinstein’s mind, it represented the wrong kind of Christianity. As the Air Force noted at the time:
The chaplains sponsor numerous events every day, including weekly religious services at both chapels — and regularly advertise them through email distribution, our weekly base paper and through the chapel website.
The US Air Force Academy told Mikey Weinstein to pound sand because letting Airmen know about the opportunities for spiritual resiliency is part of the chaplain’s J-O-B, and they do it for all kinds of religious events.
Very notably, Weinstein did not object when that same chaplain sent out messages about Islamic and Buddhist events. Mikey Weinstein was clearly only targeting events associated with Christian beliefs he didn’t like.
The Air Force chaplaincy is explicitly permitted — arguably, required — by policy to announce events for the spiritual support of Airmen. Weinstein’s bigoted insinuation that such announcements should be sent only to specific belief sets has neither requirement nor precedent — and would likely be perceived as discriminatory. That Mikey Weinstein has previously fought to have these communications moved from command channels to chaplaincy channels, and yet now claims even chaplaincy channels are wrong, demonstrates the inch-by-inch approach he’s taking to restrict military religious freedom.
After all, bowling events aren’t announced only to bowlers, nor golf events only to golfers. Black History announcements are not sent only to troops of a certain race. As every single Airmen can tell you, “gay pride” month announcements are not sent only to homosexuals. And yes, people do object to those emails (the curse of the “Reply All” proves it), and those who object are told (rightfully) that the “delete” button is right there on their keyboard if they’re not interested.
Weinstein’s aggrieved “clients” — fictional though they may be — have equal access to that same delete button, but that’s not good enough for them. They want to restrict others, and they want to inhibit the ability of the Air Force to help its Airmen know about the opportunities they may have for character building, leadership, or resilience — if those topics remotely touch religious beliefs they don’t like.
Bluntly, Mikey Weinstein, Chris Rodda, and their like-minded followers checked out the “Global Leadership Summit,” determined they did not like the religious tenets they think they saw in it, and therefore decided to accuse the Air Force of illegal activity as a means to try to squelch those objectional religious beliefs. They’re displaying religious bigotry, plain and simple.
Mikey Weinstein and his acolytes are wrong. Their hatred for Christians — those whom they believe are the wrong kind of Christian — is palpable, and it drives them to demand “punishment” for chaplains or others whose actions might remotely assist these Christians in the exercise of their faith. They are so blinded by bigotry they fail to realize — or simply don’t care — that their demands would violate laws, military policies, and the very US Constitution they awkwardly cite as the justification for their attacks.
As to the Air Force, Wright-Patt has been amenable to Mikey Weinstein in the past, and may yet be so again. It is unlikely they will “punish” anyone as he has demanded, but they may jump through his hoops and dance as the monkey obeying his organ grinder — because, yes, there are people in authority in the military who think just like Mikey Weinstein.
It is possible, though, the Air Force will ignore him or even defend the duties of the chaplains in their spiritual support of the religious exercise of all the troops — even the ones Mikey Weinstein doesn’t like. Much to Weinstein’s chagrin, that’s precisely how this year has gone so far — Mikey Weinstein has essentially been impotent in 2017, with not a single notable accomplishment by his MRFF this year. Weinstein has likely felt that impact in his pocketbook, given that the largest single use of “donations” given to Mikey Weinstein’s “charity” is to pad Mikey Weinstein’s wallet. Perhaps he feels the need to create outrage to bolster his income.
While there is some comfort in knowing Mikey Weinstein’s influence has faded, his extremist views remain troublesome — particularly given the similar hatred expressed by his like-minded followers, some of whom are actively serving in the US military. It seems likely his attacks on military religious freedom will continue, fruitless or not.
Ultimately, the outcome and future of liberty will be determined by whether the US military bends over — or stands up. It is the US military that will determine which will prevail: Mikey Weinstein, or military religious freedom.