Michael Weinstein has repeatedly demonstrated an animosity toward the association of the US military with the Christian Bible. In 2009, his Military Religious Freedom Foundation opposed a Chaplain bringing Swahili Bibles to Iraq, despite the fact they were requested by third country nationals supporting the US military effort. The “religious freedom” organization opposed support for the religious freedom of US allies.
In 2007, Weinstein highly publicized a cropped photograph of a US Army trainee posing with his M-16 and his Bible — alongside a similarly photographed Hamas suicide bomber. (The photos can be seen here; the original article was written by Jason Leopold, currently an editor for TruthOut, for which Weinstein is a board member and fundraiser.) Weinstein’s MRFF is quoted saying “fundamentalist Christianity” in the US military “is starting to mirror Islamic fundamentalism.” (Tellingly, he never made similar statements about photos of Jewish Soldiers and their weapons, some of which can be seen here.)
Weinstein’s most recent complaint is Read more
In an interesting perspective, Eugene Volokh writes an article on the “conflict” between the Koran-burning church in Florida and Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). To the point, he quotes Hooper saying:
Can you imagine what this will do to our image around the world…And the additional danger it will add whenever there is an American presence in Iraq or Afghanistan?
After going through several explanatory examples and analogies, Volokh draws an interesting conclusion:
In those situations, the mainstream group representative seems to be consciously using the threat of [others’] extremist violence to achieve his own ideological goals. And he also seems to be trying to blame the people who are exercising their rights for the violence that would supposedly ensue. This sort of political tactic does not reflect well on the mainstream group.
Separate from Koran burning and CAIR, Volokh’s perspective has an interesting application to religious freedom in the military. After all, Read more
According to Military.com, the small, controversial Westboro Baptist Church has joined the criticism of the planned Koran burnings in Florida, but not for the reason everyone else is. Their reason?
They did it first. And no one noticed.
It’s that in 2008 she and her father’s Topeka flock set fire to a Quran in plain view on a Washington, D.C., street and nobody seemed to care…
Westboro has even said if Jones doesn’t burn the Koran, they will. Elsewhere, there is an increasing chorus of “hypocrisy” accusations against US officials. The US government previously said it burned Bibles in Afghanistan; even at that time, there was a sense that
“if it had been the Quran, this never would have happened.”
Other news agencies picked up on the “unusual” Read more
In a vaguely related article that purports to highlight potentially “false” converts from radical Islam, the author quotes the MRFF’s Michael Weinstein in a provocative statement:
With the U.S. engaged in active combat in the heart of the Islamic world, Weinstein believes Christian fundamentalists in the U.S. military are actively promoting terrorists-turned-Christians — with potentially deadly consequences.
“These guys are spewing Islamophobic hatred, and the Pentagon laps it up. This is the kind of prejudice and bigotry that can lead to genocide,” said Weinstein.
So Weinstein is suggesting that someone — American military Christians? the Pentagon? — is leading the way to “genocide?” Weinstein leaves no clue as to how he jumped to such a melodramatic conclusion (though perhaps he believes it will be committed by the “shadow government” the MRFF believes is actually running the country). Insane conspiracy theory though it is, it isn’t the first time he has made the accusation. From 2007:
In Plan A, evangelical Christians with a smile on their face will ask you to please, please, please accept their biblical worldview of Jesus. The problem with that is, inevitably, Plan A morphs into Plan B. They stop asking so nicely, and then you have the Holocaust, Read more
It is now common knowledge that Franklin Graham’s invitation to speak at the prayer day hosted by the Pentagon Chaplaincy was “rescinded.”
Army spokesman Col. Tom Collins confirmed today, that at the Army’s request, the Pentagon Chaplain’s Office had contacted Graham to withdraw the invitation extended to him to be the main speaker at the Pentagon’s observance of the National Day of Prayer.
As a result, the National Day of Prayer Task Force is also not participating in the Pentagon event. Graham responded:
I regret that the Army felt it was necessary to rescind their invitation to the National Day of Prayer Task Force to participate in the Pentagon’s special prayer service. I want to express my strong support for the United States military and all our troops. I will continue to pray that God will give them guidance, wisdom and protection as they serve this great country.
(Some have claimed the NDoP itself is unConstitutional, consistent with Read more
The Washington Post has an interesting article on a Muslim American Soldier who is engaged in “battles on friendly ground.” The article is essentially a superficial re-telling of US Army Spc Zachari Klawonn’s story, even to the point of being dismissive toward two other Muslim Soldiers (Capt. Rhana Kurdi and Sgt. Fahad Kamal) who gave statements supportive of the Army with regard to their faith.
According to the article, Klawonn has filed “complaint after complaint with his commanders.” (It is unclear if this is inclusive of the “20 complaints” he has filed with the equal opportunity office.) He believes he has mild depression and has seen a psychologist a half dozen times since joining the Army. When he enlisted, he was “grilled” by those at his mosque who wanted to know how he could kill Muslims, which was “forbidden.”
Klawonn was allegedly told by superiors that he needed to be careful, because he fit the same profile as Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan–a Muslim soldier disgruntled with the Army, complete with a psychological history and close associates who seem to believe his military service is incompatible with Islam. While Klawonn may have been understandably Read more