Tag Archives: Congress

MRFF Claims US Army Validated Violation of Constitution

Over the years, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein has demonstrated that he is fairly adept at public relations, though he has stumbled a few times. (For example, he failed to rebut accusations he was “cashing in” on donations last year, and he more recently failed to support his claims of his White House duties.)  Contributing to his public relations “victories” have been the public relations shortcomings of his primary foe, the US military.  In many cases, the US military has allowed Weinstein to shape the narrative — an opening of which he has taken full advantage.

Weinstein recently claimed that a US Army recruiting poster that said “On a Mission for God and Country” was

  • an “unconstitutional disgrace,”
  • an “unconstitutional catastrophe,” and
  • a “stinking poster of unconstitutional malfeasance.”

Ultimately, the Army told the recruiters to remove the poster, said publicly the poster hadn’t gone through the proper processes, and indicated Continue reading

Atheists Misrepresent Military Religious Data. Again.

In what has become standard practice for atheists trying to inflate their numbers, the Freedom From Religion Foundation ran an ad in USA Today’s Year in Defense claiming nearly a quarter of the US military is “not religious” [emphasis added]:

Proselytizing officers got you down? Annoyed by preaching chaplain emails? Frustrated by prayer at mandatory events? Tripping over bibles with every about face? If you’re one of the 23.4%* of the U.S. military who is not religious, join the ranks of America’s largest non-prophet nonprofit…

As previously noted, atheists who take pride in their “skepticism” and reliance upon demonstrable data over mere belief have been very quick to express their belief in the report from the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers that initiated the 23.4% number — despite the fact the data does not support the conclusion.

The asterisk in the ad leads to Continue reading

Article Exposes Mikey Weinstein “Stretching” the Truth

Mark Stricherz at aleteia (tagline: “Seekers of the Truth”) wrote a lengthy exposé on Michael “Mikey” Weinstein and his self-founded charity, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, entitled “Meet “Mikey” Weinstein, the Questionable Critic of the Pentagon’s Religious Policy.”  (It was repeated at Newsmax as “Man Leads Effort to Scrub God From Military.”)  While some of the article is a mere statement of Weinstein’s positions or status, Stricherz does an excellent job of revealing Weinstein’s reliance on hyperbole and showmanship (even Weinstein’s wife admits he goes “overboard“) — something that undermines Weinstein’s credibility in a meaningful way.

For example, Stricherz starts off with Weinstein’s opening statement to November’s congressional hearing, in which

Weinstein made an opening statement in the familiar manner of those who testify before Congress.

It was a fairly droll narration of a prepared statement. But that’s not how Weinstein portrayed it later [emphasis added]:  Continue reading

Confusion Continues over Military Religious Freedom

An article at the Stars and Stripes, making a reference to the congressional testimony a couple of months ago, notes that “both sides agree” that there continues to be confusion over the US military’s policy on religious liberty. The article led with the story of US Army Chaplain (Capt) Joe Lawhorn — who was punished for mentioning his faith during a briefing and who was cited again recently in the Washington Times — as an example.

Nearly a year after the Department of Defense issued a heavily revised religious expression policy that advocates said would bring a new level of religious freedom, the dispute at Fort Benning, Ga., is evidence that the new wording hasn’t done away with old disputes. The fight  Continue reading

Ohio State House Passes Military Religious Freedom Bill

The Ohio State House of Representatives passed “a resolution,” HR 283,

To urge the United States Congress and the United States Department of Defense to protect and uphold the religious and free speech rights of military service members.

The resolution cited several incidents of apparent religious hostility in the US military, but oddly missed one that was very close to home. The resolution noted that the Ohio National Guard had the same challenges Continue reading

President Signs 2015 NDAA: Mt Soledad Addressed, No Religious Liberty Provisions

For the first time in several years, Congress passed and the President signed a National Defense Authorization Act with no sections directing the US military on issues of religious liberty. Over the prior few years, Congress has inserted legislation requiring protection of religious expression within the military, for example, which resulted in changes to DoDI 1300.17 and Air Force Instruction 1-1.

One thing the NDAA does include, however, is authorization to transfer the Mount Soledad Memorial Cross to a private organization:  Continue reading

Sailors in Bahrain Celebrate Christmas without Christ

While recent changes in Air Force regulations and a favorable congressional hearing have given some groups a positive perception of the direction of religious liberty in the US military, it is worth noting that even that trend isn’t universal, and it hasn’t reversed some of the damage done over the past few years.

Naval Support Activity (NSA) Bahrain recently kicked off the holiday season with its traditional tree lighting — absent one of its longstanding traditions. In 2012, Jason Torpy — an atheist and former Army officer — single-handedly persuaded the US Navy to ban a children’s “live Nativity” from the tree lighting ceremony.

The reason? According to Torpy, the kids

threaten[ed] US security and violat[ed] the Constitution.

It was probably “easier” for the Navy to surrender to Torpy and remove the children’s event rather than try to defend it for its positive value. Thus, plastic baby Jesus Continue reading

Even Atheists Find Mikey Weinstein Unreasonable

Upon hearing that Michael “Mikey” Weinstein would be testifying at a congressional hearing on religious liberty in the military, atheist activist and former Army Captain Jason Torpy had a particularly biting retort:

When will the reasonable voices get their day in Congress?

Given that Weinstein is so often accused of being an atheist, and given the core ideologies (if not the methodologies) of Torpy and Weinstein generally align, it is interesting to see Torpy’s sharp response.

On the other hand, it should not be entirely surprising.  There has been bad blood between the MAAF and MRFF (particularly Chris Rodda) for some time.

It turns out Weinstein and his acolytes can be so vitriolic and derisive they alienate even those who agree with them.  And if you’re an ally with the gall to criticize the MRFF’s methods, they might even turn that vitriol on you…

US Air Force Revises Religious Guidelines

As previously noted, the Air Force has published a revision to its AFI 1-1, “Air Force Standards,” which alters the wording and tone on how the service views religious liberty and expression.  The new AFI can be found here (PDF).

The greatest sources of consternation were paragraphs 2.11 and 2.12, and that’s where the Air Force made its revisions. In one notable change, the topics of 2.11 and 2.12 have been reversed: The Air Force now talks about religious freedom and expression before it talks about restrictions and the Establishment clause. While that may seem insignificant to some, it is noteworthy for the tone of the regulation.

The most significant change to the AFI – in direct response to laws passed by Congress – also marks its most dramatic explicit statement. The new regulation now says [emphasis added]:

Every Airman also has the right to individual expressions of sincerely held beliefs, to include conscience, moral principles or religious beliefs, unless those expressions would have an adverse impact on military readiness, unit cohesion, good order, discipline, health and safety, or mission accomplishment.

Every Airman has the right to express their religious beliefs.  Further, Continue reading

Congressional Hearing on Military Religious Freedom, Hostility

As previously noted, the House Armed Services subcommittee on personnel invited five civilian witnesses to provide testimony on the state of religious freedom in the US military last Wednesday.

Attending were:

  • Michael Berry, Liberty Institute attorney who acted on behalf of cadets at the US Air Force Academy this year
  • Retired Chaplain (Col) Ron Crews, an outspoken advocate for military religious freedom
  • Travis Weber, Director of the Family Research Council’s Center for Religious Liberty, US Naval Academy graduate and former Naval aviator.
  • Rabbi Bruce Kahn, a retired Navy Captain and Chaplain, a founding member of the Equal Rights Center, and an advocate for homosexual “rights.”
  • Michael “Mikey” Weinstein, founder and sole employee of his Military Religious Freedom Foundation, engaged in a self-described “war” against Christians in the US military.

Contrary to some predictions, it wasn’t really a contentious meeting. What the hearing did reveal was the committee members were Continue reading

Military Religious Freedom goes to Congress

The congressional hearing postponed in late September, in which a House Armed Services subcommittee was to hear testimony on military religious freedom, has been rescheduled for tomorrow, 19 November, at 1400 Eastern.  The hearing is scheduled to be broadcast online.

The original invitees included retired Chaplain (COL) Ron Crews, Liberty Institute attorney Michael Berry, Travis Weber of the Family Research Council, retired Navy Chaplain (CAPT) Bruce Kahn, and former Air Force Captain Michael “Mikey” Weinstein.

Chaplain Crews recently made a point of saying he intended to speak about the “duplicity” of the US Air Force, which published an atheist’s commentary but censored a Christian’s.

Group Objects After Air Force Pulls Commander’s Article on Faith

The 180th Fighter Wing Commander has reportedly censored an article written by his Medical Group Commander, Col Florencio Marquinez, because of a complaint by Michael “Mikey” Weinstein.  (The article can be read here.)

According to the Christian legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), [a civilian] complained about Marquinez’ article, claiming that it was “odious” and “offending.” In response to the complaint, Commander Col. Craig R. Baker ordered the newsletter to be republished without Marquinez’ piece.

Weinstein claimed full credit, praising the commander.  The “odious” and “offending” words were his [emphasis added]:  Continue reading

Congress to Hear Testimony on Military Religious Freedom

A group of military religious freedom supporters — and at least one critic — will appear before the House Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee this week to testify on the state of religious liberty in the US military.

Advocates for military religious freedom invited to the hearing include

  • Michael Berry, Liberty Institute attorney who acted on behalf of cadets at the US Air Force Academy this year
  • Retired Chaplain (Col) Ron Crews, an outspoken advocate for military religious freedom
  • Travis Weber, Director of the Family Research Council’s Center for Religious Liberty, US Naval Academy graduate and former Naval aviator.

Their organizations are also part of the Restore Military Religious Freedom coalition.

On the critics side, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein Continue reading

Air Force Oath: Atheists Protest Right Thing the Wrong Way

The American Humanist Association — the same group vying for an atheist chaplain — has threatened to sue the Air Force because the military enlistment oath ends in “So help me God,” and an Airman at Creech AFB lined out part of the oath on his enlistment form:

According to the AHA, the unnamed airman was told Aug. 25 that the Air Force would not accept his contract because he had crossed out the phrase “so help me God.”…

That is unconstitutional and unacceptable, the AHA said.

“The government cannot compel a nonbeliever to take an oath that affirms the existence of a supreme being,” Miller said. “Numerous cases affirm that atheists have the right to omit theistic language from enlistment or reenlistment contracts.”

They’re correct. The problem with the AHA’s position is they demonstrated an amazing lack of comprehension of the law — and basic public relations skills.

After three pages of pontificating in their demand letter, the AHA Continue reading

Military Christians Targeted in Face of Islamic Extremism

Recent news reports indicate two US citizens were recently killed while fighting on the side of the terror group known as ISIS, which has declared an “Islamic state” in northern Iraq and eastern Syria.  (Reports indicate that makes at least three Americans killed fighting on the side of the Islamic extremists so far, and others want to.)

A second American citizen who died fighting for terror group ISIS in Syria has been identified as Abdirahmaan Muhumed of Minneapolis, reports have said.

Fox News reported that the 29-year-old Somali-American died in the same battle as Douglas McArthur McCain, the first American to be identified as having died on the Islamic militant side.

It turns out former US Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the man sentenced to death for killing more than a dozen of his fellow soldiers in the 2009 massacre, wants to become a citizen of this new Islamic state (more proof, some say, the attack was an act of terrorism, not “workplace violence“).

In an interesting bit of timing, Army Sgt Hasan Akbar — sentenced Continue reading