Chaplain Troubled by Religious Freedom, Supports Mikey Weinstein
Sometimes, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein is so quick to pat himself on the back he ends up shooting himself in the foot.
Weinstein recently posted a sanitized email of praise from a [redacted] Chaplain, but it is fairly obvious from whence it came:
From: (Military Chaplain’s E-Mail Address Withheld)
Subject: Gratitude From (military branch withheld) Chaplain (name and rank withheld)
Date: December 20, 2018 at 1:08:38 AM MST
To: Mikey Weinstein <email@example.com>
Sir, as I make my end of year contribution to MRFF this morning I want to express my sincerest gratitude to you and MRFF for your tremendous support last February and for going to bat against one of this country’s worst examples of fundamentalist Christian supremacy and bigotry, (name withheld), being the (military branch name withheld)’s officially honored guest speaker at last year’s Prayer Breakfast on post here at (military installation name and location withheld).
We may have lost that battle but in fighting the good fight the MRFF has sent a clear message around the globe for our military to beware of repeating such unconstitutional outrages in the future. The (number withheld) Chaplain (military chaplains’ ranks withheld ) I supervise also didn’t attend the prayer breakfast. They are all from more conservative Christian backgrounds than I (as you know, sir, I am also a Christian military chaplain) but “get” it when it comes to the U.S. military chaplains’ mandate to perform/provide services for all troops of all faiths and no faith traditions as well as all related Constitutional non-establishment issues within the Department of Defense. They probably figured out, or it was assumed, that it was I who contacted you. I was so pleased that, apparently, these other military chaplains professionally respected the fact that I had taken a stand with MRFF as my champion and advocate.
Thank you and MRFF for all you do to ensure that there is no established religion in our U.S. armed forces while, at the very same time, fully respecting the Free Exercise thereof for ALL who serve.
Sir, you and the MRFF are so sorely needed!…
(military branch withheld) Chaplain (name and rank withheld)
P.S. After the New Year I’d like to have a phone conversation about the extremely troubling increase in mass Christian baptisms taking place here among very vulnerable basic trainees at (military installation name withheld) and in other basic training environments in the U.S. military.
Let’s see: Mikey Weinstein unsuccessfully tried to stop a National Prayer Breakfast speaker in February at a base with a large trainee population?
The disturbing thing isn’t that a supervisory US military chaplain would support Mikey Weinstein’s bigotry and attacks on religious liberty. It’s that a US military chaplain — by regulation, one of the main protectors of troops’ religious liberty — would advocate for such attacks and discrimination.
Clearly, this chaplain had an issue with Kenneth Copeland. But he manifested his disagreement with the beliefs of Copeland in an attempt to discriminate against others who might agree with Copeland. That’s not an attempt to support religious freedom; it’s an attempt to stifle it.
Worse, the chaplain adds in a post-script that he’s ‘troubled’ about mass baptisms occurring at US bases. Well, he’s got a friend in Mikey Weinstein who has similarly attacked US troops practicing their faiths and being baptized. But it would seem this chaplain — who supervises other chaplains — is disinclined to support these baptisms, which, again, is a practice of religion a US military chaplain is supposed to defend.
Weinstein has railed against US military chaplains who he claimed were unable to accomplish the chaplain’s mission of “perform or provide” for all US troops — yet here he proudly publicizes fan mail from an acolyte who says — no, has fought against — that very mission.
Comicly, or perhaps sadly, this chaplain doesn’t even seem to know what he’s so adamantly “fighting.” Note he describes Kenneth Copeland’s visit as
one of this country’s worst examples of fundamentalist Christian supremacy and bigotry…
and then he says even his “more conservative Christian” subordinates didn’t attend — which he ascribed to them understanding the Constitution.
Except that Copeland isn’t a “fundamentalist,” and he doesn’t espouse a conservative Christian theology; rather, he advocates a form of “prosperity gospel.” So conservative Christians are the least likely to listen to Kenneth Copeland. That’s the likely reason this chaplain’s “more conservative Christian” subordinates didn’t go, not because they somehow had constitutional enlightenment others did not.
Or, were one to ascribe more nefarious reasoning as Mikey Weinstein often does: This chaplain acknowledges his subordinates likely knew he was the one who had complained to Mikey Weinstein and tried to get Copeland’s visit cancelled.
If you knew your boss had tried to get a speaker cancelled — tried so hard, in fact, he’d gone outside the military to a bigoted activist and splashed it all over the national news — would you go listen to that speaker? Or would you feel “coerced” to not attend so you wouldn’t get a poor performance review because of your religious beliefs?
Works both ways, doesn’t it, Mikey?
As Weinstein is wont to say, if this chaplain isn’t willing to perform the duties of a chaplain — by supporting the religious liberty of all troops — then he should hang up his stole and leave the chaplaincy. Of course, since this one supports Weinstein, he won’t be demanding his resignation anytime soon.
As has been noted before, there are people within the US military who think just like Mikey Weinstein — even Generals, and even chaplains. They’re human, too, and fallible. They are not immune to feelings of bias or bigotry.
One can only hope and pray this chaplain will have leaders, subordinates, and peers who will have the moral courage to mitigate the damage he will try to do to religious freedom in the military.
To be clear, this chaplain isn’t clueless. As a faith leader in the US military tasked to defend the religious rights of US troops, he is actively working against those very rights. He’s not naïve; he’s a really, really bad chaplain — one might even say an extremist:
[There’s] a key difference between most Christians — who support religious liberty — and the bigotry of Mikey Weinstein, Chris Rodda, and their MRFF. Those Constitution-supporting Christians who do not care for Kenneth Copeland will either not attend or will do so for entertainment purposes or morbid curiosity. They’re not going to try to stop the event — and thus stop someone else’s religious exercise — because of their personal feelings.
It is the MRFF — Mikey Weinstein, Chris Rodda, and their acolytes — who would demand that the Army only permit inoffensive, “inclusive,” MRFF-approved beliefs to be exercised.
That’s not freedom. That’s religious extremism by another name.