How many data points does it take to prove a trend?
Michael Weinstein has, yet again, shown that his “religious freedom” organization is concerned primarily with encouraging the government to restrict religious freedom based on the content of peoples’ religious beliefs in relation to the US military:
American Atheists Inc., the Freedom from Religion Foundation and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, in an Aug. 6 letter to Mabus and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert, argued the Marine Corps base has denied them equal treatment by first stalling and then denying their requests for access…
“We are disturbed that the government is giving such extensive support, including assets, resources and personnel, to a single sect of Christianity,” the three groups wrote in their letter to Mabus. “Even more troubling is the ‘doomsday’ nature of the CCCM. … The last thing Camp Pendleton needs is a large group of well-armed Marines convinced of an imminent doomsday crisis.”
Notice the groups give lip service to the issue of “governmental preference,” but they focus on the content of the religious beliefs. Those beliefs aren’t just crazy — because crazy is still permissible — the critics claim the beliefs are dangerous.
That’s been a common theme of Weinstein’s for years — with every criticism of religious (Christian) personnel in the US military including claims that the enemy was emboldened and therefore military lives were at risk. Weinstein knows if he can frame something as a “national security threat” — and get people to believe him — he’ll get attention.
The primary crime of the “doomsday” church? Providing support for wounded warriors, Marines, and their families:
“We have men that go down [to Camp Pendleton] and we provide food for the fellows and … parties and picnics for them and their families,” Smith said. “We do spend quite a bit of money helping them.”
While the alliance of the three groups may make it seem they have broad support, it’s pretty much ‘all in the family.’ US Army Sgt Justin Griffith has described himself as a “client” and “member” of the MRFF, and he is also the “military director” for American Atheists. His second, US Marine Sgt Paul Loebe, is his “assistant” at American Atheists and had been leading the effort to demand a counter-response to the shocking Christian support for US Marines.
So while it may seem to be more than one “group,” it is actually the same few people, making essentially the same complaint: We want to be like the Christians. Bravo.
Primarily, it seems the groups are manufacturing and sensationalizing yet another incident allowing them to drag the US military through the mud. Military atheists did the same thing at Fort Bragg, criticizing the US Army at every turn, even as it supported the same event there.
In short, the atheists are claiming the US military is obligated to host them, because they have allowed a Christian church to host events supporting servicemembers. The ludicrous nature of demanding to be an asterisk on Christianity (“if they…then we…”) seems to escape them. Allowing a church to sponsor (apparently well-attended) events for troops does not mean the US military is required to open their military facilities to any Tom, Dick, or Harry that demands entrance.
But the persecuted martyr card plays well in the press — as do the accusations of “dooms day” cults.
The goal of the “Freedom From Religion” Foundation is obvious. It should be obvious by now that Michael Weinstein’s MRFF goals have nothing to do with religious freedom — in fact, they’re quite the opposite — Weinstein supports religious freedom only for the right kind of religious beliefs. Likewise, American Atheists, as guided by two members of the US military in matters pertaining to their own organization, have made it their explicit goal to so stigmatize religious freedom in the military that the military won’t touch it — even when it comes to the free exercise of its own troops.