Mikey Weinstein Falsely Accuses Army Chaplain of Lying
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein and his research assistant Christine “Chris” Rodda have been railing against US Army 1LT Alex Stovall for the past couple of months. Stovall is a member of the Army Reserve, and he’s also a candidate for Arizona’s ninth congressional district.
Stovall’s political comments – made as a candidate in the vein of Donald Trump – have drawn much of the MRFF’s ire, as has the fact he’s shown up in campaign ads and interviews while in uniform.
Making political comments while a civilian – that is, a Reservist not on orders – is a non-event. There are quite a few US military members in Congress on both sides of the aisle (according to the CRS, 14 in both houses), and they’ve certainly all made political comments about their political adversaries and the Nation’s leadership. When not on military orders, they are civilians and can speak as such — which is why Army Capt Alan Kennedy sued his chain of command over the punishments he received while participating in BLM “protests” while not on orders.
Even as a failed lawyer and JAG who was apparently relegated to administrative law while in the Air Force, Mikey Weinstein should still know this, but the accusation makes for “good” press for him. It attracts the attention of those who don’t know any better – even if it’s not entirely true.
Wearing the uniform while engaged in political activity is certainly an issue (and it has been an issue for others in the past), but it has nothing to do with religion or religious liberty in the US military, which makes you wonder why Weinstein is trying to become the uniform police for the military. The nexus for Weinstein’s cabal comes in the fact that Stovall is a Reserve chaplain candidate – and this is where Weinstein and Rodda go off the rails, recently saying [emphasis original]:
There is another “big lie” in 1LT Stovall’s tweets and campaign videos and appearances — his claim that he’s a military chaplain. He isn’t! He is merely a chaplain candidate. And even though his chaplain lie was exposed by the Army Times, he persists in his fallacious claim, keeping his lie up as the pinned tweet at the top of his campaign Twitter page…
…This is the big one – HIS LIE ABOUT BEING A CHAPLAIN. 1LT Stovall is not a chaplain, either in the Army or the Army Reserve. He is merely a chaplain candidate…
Stovall’s lie that he is a chaplain violates another section of DoD Directive 1344.10 – Section 18.104.22.168., which states that a candidate may not (emphasis added):
“Depict or allow the depiction of themselves in uniform in a manner that does not accurately reflect their actual performance of duty.”
1LT Stovall continues to lie in his political campaign, falsely claiming to be an Army chaplain when be [sic] is merely a chaplain candidate.
THE ARMY MUST PUNISH 1LT ALEX STOVALL!!!
Except, that’s exactly the opposite of how it actually works. The military frequently calls its chaplain candidates “chaplains.” Here’s just one example, from the DoD’s “first female Muslim chaplain,” which was announced when she became a chaplain candidate last year [emphasis added]:
Chaplain candidate Saleha Jabeen was commissioned as a second lieutenant in Chicago at the Catholic Theological Union by the Air Force chief of chaplains, Dec. 18, becoming the first female Muslim chaplain in the Department of the Defense.
The US military said chaplain candidate Jabeen was now a chaplain — even though she didn’t complete her training and graduate the chaplain’s course until February of this year. And that article, published in January of 2020, didn’t come from some backwater Air Force base – it was the office of the Secretary of the Air Force that said the chaplain candidate was a chaplain.
The military frequently refers to its chaplain candidates as “chaplains.” It’s a fact. That the fact is weird or contradicts other military guidance (a non-regulatory Army “guidebook” on the chaplaincy makes a point of saying “chaplain candidates are not chaplains”) doesn’t change the fact that the institution uses those terms.
Thus, it does not seem unreasonable for a chaplain candidate to call himself or herself a “chaplain”. One can certainly disagree with the use of those words, but it is disingenuous to accuse a military member of lying for using the military’s own terminology to describe his military position.
Had Chris Rodda, Weinstein’s underpaid research assistant, taken a break from republishing public domain books and looking for other jobs, she could have done the actual research to learn that a chaplain candidate who calls himself a chaplain isn’t “lying.” But Rodda likely knows that accusing him of lying makes for better headlines and sensationalist blogs – the truth notwithstanding. Weinstein and company care about publicity – not truth.
In the end:
- Absolutely nothing about the MRFF’s accusations against chaplain/chaplain candidate (1LT) Alex Stovall have anything to do with military religious freedom.
- Absolutely nothing about this situation has to do with the “separation of church and state,” which has recently become Mikey Weinstein’s new proclaimed focus.
- Absolutely nothing about this situation has to do with “fundamentalist Christian nationalism,” which Weinstein says his organization exists to fight.
- Nothing about Stovall wearing his uniform or degrading the Commander in Chief has anything to do with the stated mission of Mikey Weinstein’s 501(c)3.
So why does Mikey Weinstein care one whit about what Stovall does or doesn’t do?
The only remaining factor is that Stovall is associated with the military and is a staunchly conservative political candidate.
But if it Mikey Weinstein is targeting Stovall because of his politics, which is wholly outside the stated purpose of Weinstein’s charity, he’ll likely run afoul of IRS regulations on political activity by a tax-exempt organization – and endanger his quarter-million dollar annual salary in the process. Oops.
For her part, Rodda has unsuccessfully tried to make a living out of calling people liars – but she consistently struggles with the truth herself. Probably something about projection…