Mikey Weinstein Gets Marine Corps to Cancel Speaker Because of Christianity

Michael “Mikey” Weinstein recently celebrated the fact the US Marine Corps acceded to his demands in only “64 minutes” and canceled the scheduled presentation of Jay Lorenzen, a retired US Air Force Lieutenant Colonel. The presentation was to be on the Gettysburg battlefield. Weinstein’s criticism of Lorenzen was stark, as described by his research assistant Chris Rodda:

Last night when an email came in to MRFF from a Marine Reserve JAG, reporting that 120 Marine Reserve JAGs were to be required to virtually attend a “battle-study” training of Gettysburg tomorrow led by a Jay Lorenzen, the name was very familiar to us at MRFF as a staff member of none other than Campus Crusade for Christ.

One look at the website for Lorenzen’s “High Ground at Gettysburg” training confirmed that the JAG’s concerns that this was to be a Christian proselytizing event were well founded.

Or, as Weinstein put it (in his characteristic poor grammar and ellipses flair):

…..as I said on our phone call, Eric, having a fundamentalist Christian extremist parachurch official associated with Campus Crusade for Christ (“CRU”) as a MANDATORY speaker in this particular MANDATORY USMC TRAINING scenario’s time, place and manner viciously violates the No Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, Colonel, as well as all associated SCOTUS caselaw and a slew of USMC and DoD Directives, Instructions and Regulations….

..it is just totally illegal….

Chris Rodda’s accusation sounds particularly compelling. After all, Lorenzen’s website and Gettysburg discussions do contain some references to Christian elements. However, it soon becomes evident Chris Rodda is not being forthright.

“High Ground at Gettysburg” wasn’t the course the Marine JAGs were participating in. According to the Marines,

A virtual battlefield tour of Gettysburg using a video from the National Park Service was scheduled as part of the annual training.

Weinstein even gave a class schedule to FoxNews, which showed three presentations on “leadership”:

The first presentation is titled “Leadership Principles Drawn from the Physical Battlefield that Have Application to Other Arenas,” while the other two read: “Leaders Learn the Language of Leadership.”

That Lorenzen was invited was not in question. That he is a Christian is not in question. He was invited as a volunteer “outside virtual presenter” on the field of Gettysburg, using National Park Service material. There is no evidence he was going to speak on a Christian topic, and there is no evidence he was invited to give a Christian presentation.

According to the FoxNews article, when confronted with those facts, Weinstein pointed to Lorenzen’s beliefs – nothing more.

Note that both Rodda and Weinstein take issue not with what Lorenzen was invited to do, but with what his beliefs are. Rodda explicitly cited only his website, which showed Lorenzen’s faith and history – not what he was going to tell the Marines. Weinstein was more blunt, and in his email to US Marine Col Eric Kleis cited only Lorenzen’s “fundamentalist Christian” faith – not a single word about the content of what he would actually say or do.

(Though no one has highlighted it, an anonymous email from the complaining JAG specifically criticized Lorenzen for working “against the American Principles of equality, acceptance, and diversity,” which seems to imply a very specific set of criticisms about very specific tenets of religious faith. Someone had an axe to grind.)

At least one news report recognized the bigotry, if subtly [emphasis added]:

The U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) is facing backlash from both sides of the religious liberty debate after it planned a training session that was later canceled over the speaker’s background in Christianity

In fact, even the US Marine Corps tacitly admitted the person who complained did so because of who Lorenzen was, not what he was going to say [emphasis added]:

Some of the participating Marines raised concerns about a former military officer who volunteered as an outside virtual presenter.

They “raised concerns” about him, not about what he was scheduled to do or say.

In other words, Chris Rodda, Mikey Weinstein, and at least one US Marine Reserve JAG attacked an Air Force veteran and had him effectively ‘canceled’ from interacting with the Marines only because he was a Christian.

How’s that religious freedom thing work again?

Besides misleading the public on the content of the presentation Lorenzen was to deliver, Rodda provided a whopper of an untruth in her telling of the events [emphasis added]:

last night…an email came in to MRFF from a Marine Reserve JAG, reporting that 120 Marine Reserve JAGs were to be required to virtually attend a “battle-study” training of Gettysburg…

The Marine Reservist who came to MRFF…is a JAG — a lawyer — coming to MRFF on behalf of 120 lawyers.

The MRFF has long been known to exaggerate or inflate the number of people who are filing complaints. For example, there are indications the MRFF socializes issues to see who will be willing to be counted as a “complainant”. The MRFF also never provides proof of these numbers, so not only can they make up any number they want, the numbers themselves are meaningless. But the MRFF harps these numbers as a boost to Weinstein’s fragile ego and as an apparent claim to credibility.

In this case, Rodda said a single complaint “represented 120 Marine Reserve JAGs” – which, according to her, was the entire class of US Marine lawyers.

Yet, according to the FoxNews report, at least one Marine Reserve JAG was not “represented” by the complaining officer. So, at most, 119 JAGs are complaining to the MRFF – but does anyone seriously believe that?

The only fact that can be drawn from Rodda’s blog is that a single Marine officer complained about Lorenzen.

Well, it turns out a single Marine officer was also offended by the cancellation of Lorenzen.

So, why are the concerns of Officer #1 more valid than those of Officer #2?

In the end, the only issue that matters is one: An easily offended US Marine JAG complained not to his superiors, but to Mikey Weinstein, about the religion of Jay Lorenzen. The US Marine Corps canceled a presentation by Jay Lorenzen only because someone complained about his religious faith.

Given the terseness of some of the correspondence, it may have been a case of the Marines trying to take the ‘easy’ route and hoping it – that is, Weinstein’s complaint – would go away. If that’s true, it’s a gross example of a lack of intestinal fortitude. Bluntly, to take the easier wrong over the harder right is cowardice.

If it’s not correct, and in fact the Marines made a considered decision, it is even more concerning. The idea that the US military would cancel a speaker solely because of his religious beliefs – something that has nothing to do with the content of the presentation – is an anathema to the human liberty of religious freedom. That freedom, by the way, is enshrined in the US Constitution, which US Marines swear to defend.

This is reminiscent of the MRFF’s attacks on Lt Clebe McClary when he was invited to the Prayer Breakfast at the US Air Force Academy nearly 10 years ago. At the time, Weinstein’s group derided McClary’s “particular” beliefs, apparently making him the ‘wrong kind of Christian’, and at one point even said he wasn’t a “true Christian” and therefore should be disinvited.

Like Jay Lorenzen, the MRFF tried to make McClary’s beliefs appear so repugnant that his visit would be canceled. When they failed, they sued — and they failed again. McClary spoke in an otherwise unremarkable event.

The MRFF’s words and actions were bigoted then, and it would seem they remain so today.

It is notable that this was an annual training event for Marine JAGs – military lawyers. How do you think those JAGs will advise their commanders on religious issues if that’s the example they’re seeing from their leaders?

It sounds like they need to be recalled and given a new class on ‘how the Marines should have handled this’ – because they clearly didn’t do it right.


One comment

  • William Robinson

    Let’s hope the USMC version of military intelligence is more thorough than their intel gathering in this case. Who needs facts when a guy has veins popping out of his neck?

    Something tells me that these lawyers will be trained after all once Rep Doug Collins and company get wind of this Marine Corps debacle. It’s obvious that this training is long overdue.