Mikey Weinstein Targets AF Gen John Teichert over Christianity
Update: Covered by Todd Starnes, who apparently received a visit from Gen Teichert while Starnes was in the hospital.
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s latest target in his war against Christians in the US military — despite his repeated assurances he is not attacking Christians — is US Air Force BGen E. John Teichert.
Until last month, BGen Teichert was the commander of the 11th Wing and Joint Base Andrews in the Washington, DC, area — home to the presidential fleet of aircraft, among other things. He recently took command of the 412th Test Wing at Edwards AFB, CA.
Though it is difficult to tell exactly, it seems Mikey Weinstein is trying to accuse BGen Teichert of using his rank and position to convert people to Christianity, though it took a tortured, cynical, and twisted series of steps to come to that conclusion.
The difficulty is poorly laid out in the 22-page letter [PDF] written by MRFF attorney Donald Rehkopf that manages to be simultaneously so vague as to be unintelligible while so bigoted as to be laughable.
The letter demands an investigation into BGen Teichert’s “conduct” — though it never describes any actual conduct to be investigated (rather, it is heavy on insinuation and implication).
For example, a full six pages into the letter, Rehkopf finally tries to give an example of something by noting that if you start at a website and click through several links, you end up on a church website with a picture of BGen Teichert. Conclusion? [emphasis added]
That is at the beginning of the interview article dated 1 May 2014, with then Colonel Teichert, which violates virtually every provision of AFI 1-1, to include not having valid disclaimers…
MRFF suggests that one does not need a “crystal ball” to see that now Brig Gen Teichert is using both his military rank as well as his position and status as an Air Force officer to aggressively promote his brand of religion – clearly giving the appearance if not outright impression that he, in his official status, is endorsing if not outright proselytizing his particular brand of politico-religion.
Apparently Weinstein and Rehkopf used a Magic 8 ball, not a crystal ball, to come up with these accusations. Reading through the interview, which is actually a list of questions and answers, “suggests” no such thing. In the four-year old article, then-Col Teichert gives his military data only in a biographical sense, and he describes his ministry in strictly theological terms.
And to the disclaimer point — why even bring it up? If the content is “illegal,” as Mikey Weinstein would have you believe, a disclaimer would be meaningless. The MRFF conveniently ignores one disclaimer that is on the site:
This is not a political group or an advocacy group – it is a group united by a common concern regarding the way our nation has drifted away from the Lord. It is a call for Christians to exercise their citizenship responsibilities to pray for our nation and its leaders, and to pray that the Lord will change our national heart so that He can change our national direction.
That summary undermines the very core of the MRFF complaint, which is why they avoided mentioning it.
The source website for the MRFF complaints is one called “prayatlunch.us,” which contains exhortations to pray for the nation and other topics “at lunch.” Mikey Weinstein says BGen Teichert should be “doing time behind prison bars” because of this website — yet, notably, the site very carefully avoids even the appearance of impropriety.
For example, no where on the site is there a name other than “John.” There are no military uniforms, nor indication of branch of military service.
Rehkopf references the picture of a General’s star on a website as proof of BGen Teichert’s “direct violation” of Air Force regulations, but it is only a picture of a shoulder — a picture nowhere proscribed by US military policies. It is no different than a stock photo.
Weinstein’s argument relies heavily on BGen Teichert coercing people through a website, which is why Rehkopf goes to great lengths to try to connect him to that site. Notably, even one of the media articles headlined that BGen Teichert was “secretly running an online ministry.” Clearly, not everyone agrees with Weinstein’s conclusion that BGen Teichert used his rank and position to do anything, because if it was “secret,” nothing is attributed — there is no rank and position, and Weinstein’s accusations fail.
Rehkopf also claims it was a “clear violation of AFI 1-1” for BGen Teichert to say, at his change of command:
I first want to thank my Lord and Savior…
Except… it’s not any kind of violation — much less a “clear” one — of anything. Mikey may not like it, but that does not make it wrong. (Contrast that response with what would have happened had the Gen promoted homosexuality instead…)
Rehkopf then goes to town on the content of the PLUS website, questioning its veracity and religious tenets — but never once explaining why it is actionable by the US military. In fact, he didn’t even try, saying simply [emphasis added]:
MRFF points this out simply to demonstrate that Brig Gen Teichert’s many religious rants simply have no historical basis.
A statement not having a “historical basis” does not violate a military regulation, making the entire MRFF diatribe an irrelevant demonstration of their bigotry. The MRFF is admitting it is targeting the religious content of the site because of its beliefs, nothing more.
Finally, Rehkopf attacks a “prayer list” from the site with a hilarious list of point-by-point “violations” [the first line is the prayer list, second MRFF “analysis“]:
- Christian leaders to find favor among men
This is religious and gender discrimination.
- A return to our Biblical foundation
- Recognition of God’s preeminence in our lives and in our land
- Key leaders accept Christ as their Savior
Advocating an unconstitutional theocracy as well as religious discrimination.
- Appreciation for our national Christian heritage
A historical falsehood and religious discrimination.
- Appreciation for a nation formed, blessed and prospered by God’s power
For agnostics, atheists and other non-believers, religious discrimination.
Some of that list must have been written by Chris Rodda, because it makes no sense whatsoever. Praying for key leaders to accept Christ is “theocracy”? Someone needs a dictionary.
What kind of moron would send a letter to the Secretary of Defense and say someone was guilty of religious discrimination because he wanted to pray for a “return to our Biblical foundation”? Rehkopf doesn’t even seem to know what the word “discrimination” means.
In the final paragraphs, the MRFF contradicts itself when it says it is actually acceptable for BGen Teichert to have these beliefs — if he keeps them “private.” Apparently, if anyone knows BGen Teichert is a Christian, they’ll be persecuted:
What about the Airmen and civilians at the 412 Test Wing who are agnostics, atheists, Buddhists, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, etc., or who are non-religious? What “equal opportunity” do they have with a commander who is publicly intolerant of their personal beliefs or non-beliefs?
Note the complete lack of evidence that BGen Teichert has been “publicly intolerant” of anything. Also note that the MRFF has moved the goalposts again. It’s now not about disclaimers, nor is it about content: now it is about public knowledge.
So, as long as no one sees BGen Teichert enter a church (because that, too, would make his beliefs “public”), he’s fine. Apparently, Mikey Weinstein would ban military officers from religious buildings. Maybe he just wants them to wear disguises.
Finally, in an effort to toss a bit more mud against the wall, Rehkopf claims that, regardless of anything else, all of BGen Teichert’s statements are “offensive” on their face. So even if he isn’t jailed for his lack of disclaimer, or Christian beliefs, or religious content, or public knowledge of his faith, he should be court-martialed for posting “offensive” content.
The 22-page letter obfuscates one important fact: Not a single Airman has come forward to allege any kind of misconduct on BGen Teichert’s part. (The MRFF complainants are upset over the website, not any conduct.) Over more than two decades of service as a “fundamentalist Christian tyrant and religious extremist predator“, to quote Mikey Weinstein, not a single person has come forward to say they’ve been proselytized, coerced, threatened, cajoled, influenced, persuaded, discriminated against, or otherwise thumped across the head with BGen Teichert’s Bible.
If BGen Teichert is such the evil person Mikey Weinstein claims, how is that even possible?
The answer should be obvious.
Despite the publicity — through the MRFF-friendly Nina Burleigh at Newsweek — it is unlikely Weinstein will prevail, given the current state of leadership and the current state of society, which Rebecca Hagelin recently noted is “sick and tired” of attacks on Christians and their faith.
And make no mistake, Mikey Weinstein is attacking BGen John Teichert because of the expressed content of his Christian beliefs.
But wait — there’s one more: Mikey Weinstein’s lawyer claims BGen Teichert violated rules against politicking — because he called for prayer for the President.
That highlight concludes one of the most ridiculous attempts at smearing a Christian in the US military to date. But, it is not a “new low” for Mikey Weinstein.
Mikey Weinstein made a very similar attack — in both quantity and “quality” — on this site nearly a decade ago.
Obviously, his mud-slinging didn’t work then. It shouldn’t be allowed to now.