As previously noted, Military Religious Freedom Foundation creator Michael Weinstein spoke at last week’s character symposium at the USAF Academy, part of its annual National Character and Leadership Symposium. Initial indications are that his welcome was warmer this time, with press reports indicating he received standing ovations rather than the jeers of a previous visit.
According to reports, he repeated his somewhat inflammatory claims that
his foundation is at war with some fundamentalist Christians in the military who put their faith ahead of their oath to defend the Constitution.
In the past five years, during which he has been in constant litigation with the Department of Defense, Weinstein has never proven that any active duty military member has taken any actions that put anything “ahead of their oath” to the Constitution. While the loaded phrase makes him sound noble, it is a misrepresentation of the truth.
Weinstein also continued to use his foundation’s most recent mantra, somewhat confusing and inconsistent though it is:
“When you put that uniform on, there’s only one religion: patriotism,” he said.
It seems unlikely that Weinstein is really advocating a level of nationalism equivalent to a religious fervor. It is no more realistic that he should advocate that Americans “replace” their religion with devotion to the government in order to be members of the military.
While Weinstein has frequently made extremist statements (like comparing modern American Christianity to Nazi Germany), he intersperses his vitriol with reasonable truths. For example, the Air Force Times reported that Weinstein also
repeatedly said he doesn’t oppose Christianity or any religion but that it’s wrong for members of the military to use their position to promote their faith.
Notwithstanding his frequent belittling of Christianity, if Weinstein stopped to listen he’d find that he was in agreement not only with military regulations, but also with virtually every individual and organization associated with the military, including the para-church groups he often criticizes. No one encourages military members to promote their faith from their official military position. His casus belli is a straw man.
On a related topic, Weinstein is also reportedly “satisfied” with the Academy’s reaction to the cross incident at the pagan circle on Academy grounds. Apparently, Weinstein wasn’t being personally briefed on the actions the Academy was taking. Now that he has had a personal discussion with the Superintendent, and has gained unfettered future access (by virtue of what Weinstein described as a “bat signal”), Weinstein seems placated. There is no indication that anything has actually changed with regard to the situation, though Academy spokesmen continue to discourage people from jumping to conclusions:
The investigation is still underway, and officials don’t know whether the placement of the cross was malicious, innocent or something in between, said academy spokeswoman Capt. Corinna Jones.
“Everything is not always as it seems,” she said.
Of course, Weinstein, who “doesn’t oppose Christianity,” has already publicly attributed the “hate crime” to “supremacist Christians.”
Yet another blazing religious incursion was uncovered by MRFF: the desecration of the officially-designated worship circle for Earth-centered religions at the United States Air Force Academy by Christian supremacists. This hate crime is yet another unequivocal sign of the ubiquity, brazenness, and pure narrow-minded hatred exhibited by the Dominionist Evangelical Christians determined to effectuate a United States Christian Military.
As usual, however, Weinstein never indicates how he is able to discern the precise theological beliefs of people who haven’t even yet been identified, yet he feels comfortable assuming they are not only Christians, but ‘hateful’ Christians bent on controlling the military (and, presumably, the world).
Weinstein’s conspiracy theories are comical enough on their own. With the advent of Weinstein’s personal “bat signal,” maybe General Gould, the USAF Academy Superintendent, is giving a small indication to the military’s view on Weinstein’s childish role-playing fantasies.