Tag Archives: mike berry

Congressmen Call on SecDef Esper to Defend Military Religious Freedom

Congress accuses Mikey Weinstein of “preying” on military chaplains.

Today, US Rep Doug Collins (R-GA) and 19 House colleagues wrote a letter (PDF) to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper demanding that the US military

follow federal law in protecting [chaplains’] religious liberties and ensure that the ongoing pandemic is not exploited by nefarious organizations bent on removing faith from the U.S. military.

(Collins is also an Air Force Reserve Chaplain.)

The letter specifically calls out Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s MRFF and its recent attacks on Chaplain Kim in Korea, the removal of chaplain videos from Facebook, and the demand that LtCol David McGraw be punished for singing and preaching from his home’s balcony in Stuttgart, Germany: Read more

Mikey Weinstein Demands Court Martial over John Piper Coronavirus Book

A chaplain in Korea and an Army officer in Germany are the latest to bear the wrath of Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s vendetta against Christians in the US military.

In South Korea, Chaplain (Colonel) Moon Kim is the Garrison Chaplain for Camp Humphreys. According to Weinstein, Chaplain Kim sent his subordinate chaplains a digital copy of John Piper’s “Coronavirus and Christ,” which, according to Weinstein, is “gross malfeasance” worthy of punishment:

MRFF demands that Army Chaplain (Colonel) Kim be officially, swiftly, aggressively, and visibly investigated and disciplined in punishment for his deplorable actions described above.

Weinstein has explicitly demanded Chaplain Kim be court-martialed, though for what “crime” he does not say.

Weinstein told CP outright that he is calling for Kim to be subject to general court-martial

Most of Weinstein missive, which drips with disdain for the Christian faith, takes issue with Christian theology he doesn’t like — though at times he (or his researcher, Chris Rodda) didn’t seem to know what Read more

The Army, Facebook, and Mikey Weinstein

During the unique trials of the pandemic, US military chaplains are coming under fire for trying to provide support for their troops.

A few years ago, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein regularly made a ruckus over something frequently called “Chaplain’s Corner”. The pieces were generally short articles written by military chaplains and published in a military base’s local paper. Weinstein and his research assistant, Chris Rodda, were apparently unable to prove military Christians were actually doing anything wrong, so they took to finding articles with Christians saying something they didn’t like. Just about every week, it seemed, the MRFF would hit the press with another “the world is ending” claim about a Christian chaplain trying to subvert democracy by publishing an article in a small-circulation base paper. (Notably, they ignored those by other faiths.)

There were plenty of targets, of course, because these columns existed at pretty much every military base. (Routine public productions like that are good fodder for performance reviews.) In other words, Weinstein was able to keep himself in the press just by making a new complaint about old news every week. In many, if not most, cases, military bases responded by pulling the columns to mitigate the supposed offense. With the “victories” and coverage, Weinstein had found a new cash cow.

That is, until religious liberty advocates stepped in to defend the rights of US troops against the attacks by Weinstein and Rodda.

One of the most significant Read more

Mikey Weinstein, Chris Rodda Panic over Dog Tag Legislation

Last July, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s MRFF complained to the US military that Shields of Strength was combining US military trademarks with Bible verses on novelty dog tags. SoS did have authorization to use the military trademarks, but the Army told SoS to stop to prevent the “negative press.” A few weeks ago, the Marines did the same thing. First Liberty has come to their defense.

In an op-ed published at the Military Times earlier this week, First Liberty’s Mike Berry told the story:

Kenny Vaughan started Shields of Strength (“SoS”). SoS is a small, faith-based company from Texas that produces military-themed items inscribed with encouraging Bible verses. For more than two decades, Kenny has been making these inspirational replica dog tags for service members and first responders. To date, SoS has donated hundreds of thousands of its replica dog tags to military units…

Over the years, SoS replica dog tags became so popular and so nearly ubiquitous that, according to author and historian Stephen Mansfield, “aside from the official insignias they wear, [the SoS dog tag] is the emblem most often carried by members of the military in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Berry and First Liberty sent Read more

Religious Liberty Group Defends Religious-Themed Dog Tags

Remember Shields of Strength?

In July, this site highlighted the complaint by Michael “Mikey” Weinstein that caused the US military to tell Shields of Strength to stop putting Bible verses on their military-themed faux dog tags.

As noted at the time, contrary to Weinstein’s claims, the military is free to license its trademarks to anyone it wants — so long as it doesn’t discriminate on the basis of religious beliefs when it does so.

And that’s precisely what it did with the license to SoS.

First Liberty has now taken up the cause of Kenny Vaughan and Shields of Strength, sending a letter to the Army telling them what they already know: They’re guilty of viewpoint discrimination — restricting Shields of Strength only on the basis of the content of their beliefs. Said Mike Berry of First Liberty:

“The government grants licenses to people and entities all the time,” Berry said over the telephone. “What the government can’t do is discriminate when it grants those licenses. … It is basically saying ‘we’re happy to grant licenses to anyone, as long as it’s not religious.’ And that’s clearly what the Army is doing here.”

That’s precisely what the military is doing — and they’re clearly wrong to do so.

In July, Weinstein tried to Read more

Manchester POW Bible Case Proceeds, but Standing Questioned

Yesterday, the Federal District Court in New Hampshire allowed the lawsuit against the VA Medical Center POW/MIA display to proceed, and it also permitted the Northwest POW/MIA Network, which erected the display, to intervene. (The POW/MIA Network is represented by First Liberty.) In one of the more interesting arguments, the presiding judge questioned whether the plaintiff had standing because he’s a Christian. Judge Paul Barbadoro [emphasis added]

acknowledged no shortage of case law and legal precedent regarding religious symbols on public property…

But Barrington resident James Chamberlain, the plaintiff in the challenge, is a Christian who attends a Congregational church, and therein lies the rub, according to the judge.

Barbadoro said he knows of no prior case stemming from a Christian challenging a symbol of Christianity.

“If he were an atheist, he would have standing and that would be clear,” the judge said.

There are certainly legal reasons to require “standing” in a judicial proceeding — but Read more

Mikey Weinstein, Fearing Lawsuit Failure, Stages Book Stunt

Michael “Mikey” Weinstein announced that his MRFF — which is currently suing to have a Bible removed from a POW/MIA display at the Manchester VA — had staged a stunt in which a “client” placed a stack of texts on the POW/MIA table of varying faith traditions.

The VA said it would not “tolerate” organizations messing with the displays and would remove the other books, which mirrored their other forceful statement protecting the display.

Importantly, having other faith texts placed on the display is not the “relief sought” in the current lawsuit. The suit seeks only the removal of the Bible.

James L. Chamberlain, the token plaintiff and Read more

Manchester VA Sued over Bible on POW/MIA Table

As previously noted, both the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation claimed they contacted the VA Medical Center in Manchester, New Hampshire, to demand a Bible be removed from the POW/MIA display in the foyer. The Bible was removed “out of an abundance of caution,” but the backlash — and a subsequent legal review — led the VA to apologize and return the Bible, which was donated by World War II POW and Army Air Corps TSgt Herman “Herk” Streitburger [emphasis added]:

“Manchester VAMC officials temporarily removed the Bible from the display out of an abundance of caution,” VA spokeswoman Kristin Pressly said in a statement provided to USA TODAY. “Following that removal, Manchester VAMC received an outpouring of complaints from Veterans and other stakeholders – many of whom dropped off Bibles at the facility – in protest of this action.”

Pressly said that after consulting with lawyers, the facility determined the Bible will stay and “remain indefinitely as part of the missing man display, a secular tribute to America’s POW/MIA community.”

We apologize to the Veterans, families and other stakeholders who were offended by our incorrect removal of this Bible,” she said.

Note that this apology came from Kristin Pressly, speaking for the VA, not the Manchester medical facility.

Now, James Chamberlain, described as a “devout Christian” and “Air Force veteran,” has filed a lawsuit (PDF) to force the Manchester VA to remove  Read more

1 2 3 8