Bat Signal Busted, Weinstein Declares War Back On

After what was supposedly an amiable interlude, Michael Weinstein and his self-founded Military Religious Freedom Foundation are now officially back at “war” with the US Air Force Academy.  The reason?  The Air Force beat Weinstein to the press.

The Colorado Springs Independent reports the Air Force Academy issued a press release critical of an as yet unpublicized MRFF accusation that the Academy was allowing a private group to ‘improperly proselytize’ in public facilities.  The reported press release, which is unsigned, undated, and available only on some local news sites, was unusual in its initiative, as well as its subtle criticisms of Weinstein and his MRFF: 

One week ago, on September 10, Mr. Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), claimed that the Academy has allowed a private religious group to promote improper Christian proselytizing at publicly accessible Academy facilities.

Upon learning of this allegation, Lt. Gen. Mike Gould, USAFA Superintendent, directed an immediate review of the claim. To date, the allegation is not substantiated…

Interestingly, the release cited Weinstein’s own website to support the Academy response, which highlighted the contradiction between Weinstein’s published goals and his actions to date:

The Academy remains committed to protecting an individual’s right to practice any religion they choose, or no religion, provided their practices do not violate policy or law or impede mission accomplishment. The Academy’s policy is consistent with the MRFF view that, “religious faith is a constitutionally guaranteed freedom that must never be compromised.” (MRFF official website)

Weinstein called the press release an “outrage” and said a “state of war” existed between him and the Academy.

Given Weinstein’s modus operandi, it is not unlikely that he threatened to “go to the press” with these latest accusations.  It would appear the Academy saw his threat and raised it, and caught Weinstein on his heels.

Weinstein has apparently lost the “keys to the kingdom” he claimed when he proudly announced he had a personal “bat signal” giving him direct access to the Superintendent, General Michael Gould.  Now he seems to be taking his ball and going home, nursing his wounded ego with a spiteful and measured rejoinder of “war.”  (Given the bipolar nature of his reactions thus far, it is entirely possible the bat signal will return next week.)

Then again, it could be that the Air Force Academy is now seeing Weinstein’s personal agenda, and also seeing the impact his arguably frivolous complaints are having on the USAFA mission.  In fact, they started their press release with that very implication:

In addition to respect and tolerance imperatives, the Academy is also committed to balancing outside influences that distract our cadets and staff from accomplishing that mission.

There seems to be a reference not only to the accused proselytizers, but also to the MRFF itself.

This current MRFF accusation is just the latest turn in a bizarre melodrama that reads like name-calling on a gradeschool playground.  Reportedly, the scandal is the presence at the Air Force Academy of a group calling itself “Cadets for Christ” under the guidance of Don and Anna Warrick.  There have been no specific complaints about what the group has done that is in any form impermissible.  (While Weinstein attempts to connect the group with “proselytizing,” they are a private, not government, group.)

In addition, while Weinstein is making hay over this “new” scandal, it isn’t actually new at all.  He made similar accusations in his book, published in 2006, when he cited the concerns of the Peasley family, whose daughter was “estranged” over her relationship with the cadet Christian “Shepherding cult.”  (In fact, the only publicized complaint thus far is from anonymous parents complaining of the “spiritual rape” of their daughter, which sounds similar to the claims of the Peasleys years ago.)  The accusations Weinstein makes now seem no different:

Weinstein says he stands by his allegations and has 51 cadets who have corroborated that a “Christian cult” is actively influencing cadets on academy grounds.

Cadets and their parents have told Weinstein that the group brainwashes cadets through a Cadets for Christ program run by Don and Anna Warrick. Their website teems with Biblically based teachings that, in part, promote the idea of the man as shepherd and the woman as subservient. Several academy personnel have complained to Weinstein about the teachings, saying the Air Force mantra is that female airmen are equal to male airmen.

What Weinstein takes issue with, then, is the religious content of another faith’s beliefs.  Given the Air Force Academy’s response, it seems likely they see the inherent self-contradiction of Weinstein’s complaint: 

The Academy remains committed to protecting an individual’s right to practice any religion they choose, or no religion, provided their practices do not violate policy or law or impede mission accomplishment.

There has been no indication the group violates any policy or law.  Just because a group exists on a military base teaching a set of beliefs with which someone may disagree does not mean those people can coerce the military to prevent that religious exercise.

In a rare but admirably spirited defense, the press release also claims the high ground with respect to Constitutionally-protected liberties, and seems to offer Weinstein a hint he should follow their example:

The Academy remains committed to respect all members’ rights to practice, or not, any faith, and we offer that commitment as a model for the meaning and intent of First Amendment religious rights outlined under the U.S. Constitution.

There is nothing wrong with 51 cadets saying a Christian “cult” is “influencing” cadets.  There is also nothing wrong with that “cult” doing that very thing, so long as their practice does not violate any military policy or law.

The restrictions on the free exercise of what Weinstein calls a “Christian cult” are no different than those on any other faith or non-faith group in the military, including what some may have called a “pagan cult” for which the Air Force Academy created a chapel earlier this year.  The fact that Weinstein has heartburn over the Christian content of this group is irrelevant to their right to free exercise, though it does highlight the fact his goal isn’t “religious freedom” after all.

As the Academy press release essentially points out, if Weinstein really wanted to protect the Constitution and the First Amendment, he would be defending this group, not criticizing it.  Of course, since they’re Christians

16 replies to “Bat Signal Busted, Weinstein Declares War Back On

  1. Pingback: US Air Force Academy “overrun with Christian conservative fanatics” « Suburban Hum

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  3. Dealer

    Jack,

    Something about the founding fathers coming over here for the sake of religious freedom rings a bell, or did you forget your American history. Side note on the history: ‘separation of church and state’ isn’t actually in the Constitution, it’s in a Federal paper, or more precisely, in a letter to a church that was worried the new American government was going to establish a formal church similar to the Church of England. Obviously that didn’t happen, but freedom of religion still stands, and oh by the way, that includes sharing of religious views on a peer-to-peer level.

  4. Donalbain

    The founding fathers didnt come over “here”. They were mostly born in the colonies that declared independence. However, the major waves of EARLY immigration of the religious groups such as the Puritan Pilgrims most certanly did not want “freedom of religion”, they thought such an idea was horrific, what they wanted was for their religion to be the one that oppressed the others. Freedom of religion came from the Enlightenment,.

    Seriously, if you are going to tell people they have forgotten American History, then you should know yours first.

  5. Dealer

    Don,

    You make a good point, which actually helps prove my point to Jack – we are not an atheist nation and our founding fathers specifically wanted freedom of religion. It seems like he wants us out, despite our Constitutional right to express religion that does not violate laws.

  6. aaron burns

    Funny thing is we were not founded as a atheist nation …. We were founded with freedom of religon because a few of the founders were deitest. That is they belived in many gods. . . Yeah so most of you rather be an athiest nation than belive in mulitple gods. Your all brain washed anyways. Get your head out and get beyond yourself. Kind of a stuck up thing to have to think that someone created you. Daddy complex. You have to act good to get into heaven. I have to act good because… wait I don’t but I do because when i live this earth thats it. We have to push the progression of mankind forward with out religoin but keep some of the moral trappings that we developed from evoulution from hunter gathers to class societies.

  7. Dealer

    Aaron,

    I thought deist meant belief in God (in general, not specific to any one religion), as compared to polytheism, which is belief in many gods (like the Greeks and Romans).

    Side note: you think progression includes the freedom to act any way you want because there are no consequences at the end?

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  12. ArepofChristian

    “Cadets for Chris” should be ashamed. They brainwashed this young girl into believing their set of values, no matter how harmful it was to her own life.

    I’ll pray to God for Don & Anna Warrick and hope that he can look past their evil ways. “FORGIVE THEM FATHER, FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO.”

  13. JD

    Arep,

    This “young girl” was an independent adult, entrusted to be a member of the military. The group “Cadets for Christ” has no official association with any branch or office of the government.

    What makes you believe she was incapable of making an informed and intentional decision? What evidence do you have to assert your public accusation that anyone was “brainwashed?”

  14. BeckerChecker

    Make no mistake about it-Weinstein is an atheist using this argument as a smokescreen while he attempts to destroy Christianity in his small piece of the World.
    Don’t be fooled!

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