Chris Rodda Shows MRFF Opposition to “Wrong Kind” of Christians
Chris Rodda, the researcher for Michael Weinstein’s Military Religious Freedom Foundation, recently answered an email from an MRFF critic who questioned their stance against the Holman Bibles. Much of the reply was pedantic or boiler plate from their other replies (another MRFF employee, Andy Kasehagen, has also published identical thousand-word copy/paste replies to different critics’ emails). The meat of her reply, though, was interesting:
The reason for MRFF’s actions to get the official military emblems removed from the Holman Bibles was much more than just the constitutional issue of a government entity endorsing religion.
The Holman Bibles also contain a large section of materials promoting an organization called the Officers’ Christian Fellowship (OCF)…The other issue with these Bibles is that they violate the JER and specific branch regulations that prohibit the endorsement of a non-federal entity. The OCF is a non-federal entity, so allowing an official military emblem on a book promoting the OCF, as these particular Bibles do, is in clear violation of these regulations.
While Rodda repeats the MRFF position, the military — which enforces its regulations — disagreed. After all, if there was any such violation, it doesn’t seem likely the military would have “allowed” Holman to deplete their stock of ‘illegal’ Bibles.
As Rodda noted before, though she claims she doesn’t remember, the prohibition on the endorsement of non-Federal entities became the MRFF shtick after that argument, rather than the MRFF argument over religion, prevailed in 2007. In other words, anytime “religion” and “the military” come together, Rodda knows that she can try to get mileage out of claiming there is endorsement.
To that end, Rodda claims these Bibles contain “a large section of materials promoting” Officers’ Christian Fellowship, so a military symbol on the Bibles therefore endorses OCF.
Perhaps Rodda hasn’t seen the Bibles, apart from the Amazon preview. The last few pages of the Bible have “extra” materials, among which are several essays with copyright marks from OCF. The content of the essays themselves does not “promote” OCF. Contrary to Rodda’s characterization of a “large section of materials promoting” OCF, there is only one 8-word line that might be construed as “promoting” OCF within the 23 pages of “extra” non-Bible material (which includes the Pledge of Allegiance and military-themed prayers) at the back:
For more information or to join OCF contact…
The contact information for OCF follows an article that concluded with a page description of the purpose of OCF.
If that’s why the MRFF called those Bibles “dangerous,” they’re free to hold that ludicrous position — with which the US military disagrees. It is no more a military endorsement of OCF than an official press release and photos of uniformed Marines are an official endorsement of Five Guys Burgers and Fries. As noted above, Rodda is claiming ethics regulations were violated, while the Department of Defense says they were not. As far as the DoD is concerned, there was nothing wrong with the Bibles.
But that isn’t the end of the story. You see, Chris Rodda readily admits the MRFF is opposing the beliefs of Americans and members of the military. Rodda complained of an “endorsement” of OCF, but not just because they were a “non-Federal entity.” She also took issue with what (she says) they believe:
The OCF is one of the organizations that hold the narrow view that their, and only their, version of Christianity is the right one, and that members of any other Christian denomination that doesn’t believe exactly what they believe aren’t good enough Christians.
Thus, it is OCF’s religious beliefs – at least, as Rodda characterizes them — which she says justify the MRFF position. A true “religious freedom” organization would, of course, defend the right of OCF and its members to hold whatever “narrow” beliefs they wanted about their faith. Even if a “religious freedom” group took issue with the Joint Ethics Regs on endorsement, the tenets of the subject groups particular beliefs would have been irrelevant to the argument.
But to the MRFF, they’re not irrelevant. People’s “wrong” religious beliefs are the point.
They’ve previously said precisely the same thing when they said a speaker with the ‘wrong kind’ of Christian beliefs should be banned. The MRFF even demanded that speaker be banned from a military function because he did not represent their version of “true Christianity.”
Weinstein and Rodda are quick to claim their conduct is not “anti-Christian,” often using a variant of the “I have black friends so I’m not a racist” defense. Because Weinstein makes up his own definitions of words (like “Republican“ and “client“), he’s telling the truth, from a certain point of view.
The MRFF isn’t anti-”Christian”…so long as by “Christian” you mean the “right kind” of MRFF-Approved Good ChristiansTM.