US Representative Walter Jones (R-NC) died last week, and he was buried in Farmville, NC. He was widely remembered for the length of his service, his kindness, and also his support of the US military.
It is this latter point that makes his name familiar here. Rep Jones was a staunch advocate for the military — including military religious freedom, which put him in the crosshairs of Michael “Mikey” Weinstein more than once.
In 2009, he introduced a bill to ensure US military chaplains could Read more
Tulsi Gabbard is a Democrat representing Hawaii’s 2nd District in the US House of Representatives. She is also a Major in the Army National Guard and a recently declared presidential candidate.
She is also a Hindu.
In response to criticisms regarding her religion and her political aspirations, Gabbard wrote a strongly worded rebuttal published at Religion News Service saying “religious bigotry is un-American” [emphasis added]:
While the headlines covering my announcement could have celebrated this historic first [a Hindu presidential candidate], and maybe even informed Americans about the world’s third largest religion, some have instead fomented suspicion, fear and religious bigotry about not only me but also my supporters…
Some media outlets have chosen to craft a false narrative of intrigue by profiling and targeting all of my donors who have names of Hindu origin and accusing them of being “Hindu nationalists.”
Today it’s the profiling and targeting of Hindu Americans and ascribing to them motives without any basis. Tomorrow will it be Muslim or Jewish Americans? Japanese, Hispanic or African Americans?
While Gabbard is right to protest Read more
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein and his erstwhile research assistant Chris Rodda tend to get hot under the collar when someone (accurately) accuses their organization of bias and bigotry, but its hard to defend against that characterization when your own people are providing the evidence. Former Assembly of God “pastor” Joan Slish has been a frequent source of insider information, and now “disabled American veteran (Vietnam)” John Compere is the most recent to demonstrate his own organization’s bias.
In his most recent “article” for the MRFF (the point of which is irrelevant), Compere — who relies on quotations like some do thesis statements — closes with a quotation from Ronald Reagan that tells you everything you need to know about Mikey Weinstein and his MRFF:
“We were founded as a nation of openness to people of all beliefs. And so we must remain. Our very unity has been strengthened by our pluralism. We establish no religion is this country, we command no worship, we mandate no belief, nor will we ever. Church and state are and must remain separate. All are free to believe or not believe, all are free to practice a faith or not.”
Reagan gave that speech at least twice, with minor variations, to the Ecumenical Prayer Breakfast on 23 August 1984 and to the Congregation of Temple Hillel and Jewish Community Leaders on 26 October 1984.
Those are, indeed, Ronald Reagan’s words, given during campaign speeches in 1984 — but they are ripped from context. Despite Compere’s claim to their message, the speech is utterly anti-MRFF. Compere appears to quote the latter version of the speech, in which President Read more
Monday, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the creation of a Religious Liberty Task Force that will attempt to proactively protect the religious liberty of American citizens. During the announcement, AG Sessions said [emphasis added]:
A dangerous movement, undetected by many, is now challenging and eroding our great tradition of religious freedom. There can be no doubt. This is no little matter. It must be confronted and defeated..
We have gotten to the point where courts have held that morality cannot be a basis for law; where ministers are fearful to affirm, as they understand it, holy writ from the pulpit; and where one group can actively target religious groups by labeling them a “hate group” on the basis of their sincerely held religious beliefs…
The Task Force will help the Department fully implement our religious liberty guidance by ensuring that all Justice Department components are upholding that guidance in the cases they bring and defend, the arguments they make in court, the policies and regulations they adopt, and how we conduct our operations.
It’s an outstanding thing to hear our government say — to Read more
Update: In response to this denial, Mikey Weinstein is now demanding the POW/MIA table be piled with books of various other spiritualities. This is standard Weinstein fare (he’s used it before) for trying to try to milk the “controversy” timeline and make the situation as annoying as possible in hopes he’ll be placated. Meanwhile, who, precisely, is being “honored” by this?
As reported at the San Diego Tribune, the US Navy has rebuffed Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s attempt to have a POW/MIA display “investigated” because it contained a Bible:
In a letter dated April 17 and mailed to New York attorney Donald G. Rehkopf Jr., San Diego-based Rear Adm. Paul D. Pearigen said that “neither further review nor an investigation of this matter is necessary.”
Initially, it appeared the Navy had asked “how high?” when Weinstein Read more
By now you’ve probably seen the reports saying Michael “Mikey” Weinstein filed a complaint (PDF, through his lawyer) about a Bible at a POW/MIA display at Okinawa, Japan. What these reports don’t seem to convey is this is just Mikey being Mikey. Every couple of months he makes these kinds of complaints; they hit a high point every now and then, fade into the background later, and maybe catch peoples’ attention again.
The POW/MIA display is a piggy bank for Weinstein. If his coffers get low, he can pull one of these from his files and try to get attention.
To prove the point, consider that the subject of this latest complaint at US Naval Hospital Okinawa is a POW/MIA table that is on permanent display. It’s been there for years. Nothing Read more
On 3 February 1943, the troop carrying USAT Dorchester was torpedoed by a German U-boat off the coast of Greenland. It went down with 670 of the 902 people onboard.
The story that keeps the Dorchester alive, however, is the now immortalized Four Chaplains:
As hundreds of panicking sailors scurried in fear for their lives, Rabbi Alexander D. Goode, Father John P. Washington and the Revs. George L. Fox and Clark V. Poling gave up their life jackets and helped calm the soldiers.
Their sacrifice was Read more
Each year since 1993 the President has declared January 16th to be “Religious Freedom Day,” in order to remember the passage of Thomas Jefferson’s 1786 Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. President Trump has not yet released his proclamation.
Update: From President Trump’s proclamation [emphasis added]:
Our Constitution and laws guarantee Americans the right not just to believe as they see fit, but to freely exercise their religion. Unfortunately, not all have recognized the importance of religious freedom, whether by threatening tax consequences for particular forms of religious speech, or forcing people to comply with laws that violate their core religious beliefs without sufficient justification. These incursions, little by little, can destroy the fundamental freedom underlying our democracy…No American — whether a nun, nurse, baker, or business owner — should be forced to choose between the tenets of faith or adherence to the law.
Jefferson’s statute continues to be a strong expression for the value of religious liberty even today. Though the statute has been discussed in many places and in great depth, there are two important points to take from the statute. First, Read more