Along with Gordon Klingenschmitt, Jim Ammerman and the Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches are being sued by Michael and Bonnie Weinstein for “imprecatory prayers.” A recent news release indicates that Ammerman and the CFGC will be represented by the Rutherford Institute.
The Rutherford Institute describes itself as an organization that is “dedicated to the defense of civil liberties and human rights,” including “the defense of religious…liberties.” Ironically, Weinstein and his organization, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, are Read more
According to a court filing, Michael Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, and his wife Bonnie are suing Jim Ammerman and Gordon James Klingenschmitt. Ammerman is the head of the Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches, which is also named in the suit. The CFGC was one of Klingenschmitt’s endorsing agencies. Klingenschmitt is a former US Navy Chaplain who was court-martialed and discharged after he disobeyed orders not to appear in uniform at a protest event.
Weinstein filed the suit due to the allegedly threatening remarks from the defendants. The accusations against Ammerman in the lawsuit are somewhat vague:
[Ammerman] made speeches and statements attacking Mikey and his family and containing virulent anti-Semitic comments. He described Mikey as a madman…and said other hurtful and despicable things.
Weinstein seems to say that Ammerman’s comments were offensive, but does not say that they were threatening. In response to Ammerman’s speeches, Weinstein said he was “undeterred.” His main concern was that Klingenschmitt was “Ammerman’s…henchman.”
Klingenschmitt publicized an “imprecatory prayer” quoting the Psalms asking God to, among other things, make Weinstein’s “days be few:” Read more
According to the New York Times, Third Air Force has opened an investigation into an email incident that occurred in January. Col Kimberly Toney, the 501st Wing Commander, sent out a message that linked to an “inspirational” video. Complaints arose because of the religious tone of the video and other content on the host site that was reportedly derogatory to the President. Toney subsequently sent out another email apologizing for the first.
A Master Sergeant who complained to the press and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation has said he may join “the [MRFF’s] litigation as a plaintiff” as a result. Weinstein has called the incident “hideous and almost beyond belief” and a “textbook case” of a
pervasive pattern of constitutional abuse.
As noted at the Religion Clause.
The Stanford Progressive, a “left-leaning” student paper which boasts a circulation of “members of the Stanford community,…student residences and…community centers,” recently interviewed Michael Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. The interview, laced with profanity and transcription errors, is available here.
To the question, “what are the Officer’s Christian Fellowship and Campus Crusade?”, Weinstein opined:
They are blights on America and a disgusting example of extremist prejudice and bigotry in this country.
In the interview Weinstein clearly discriminates between “evangelical” Christians and “dominionist” Christians. He says they both have “religious philosophies” that he “[hates],” and they both Read more
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation recently “amended” its lawsuit against the Department of Defense. It made one substantive addition, saying Army Specialist Chalker had
sought relief for his claims by invoking an intra-army administrative process. He has exhausted this alternative remedy but has obtained no substantial relief.
The premise of the cryptically vague statement (that Chalker used the Army’s in-place grievance systems) was already included in the lawsuit, so it does not appear that an amendment was judicially required. The announcement of the changes to the lawsuit–which was only filed approximately three months earlier–did highlight the suit in the press for a short time.
The other changes, upon which the MRFF has focused attention, have been additions to the long list of allegations (unrelated to the primary complaint) of Christian endorsement in the US military, which founder Michael Weinstein says is a “national security threat:”
The military command and control of our nation’s nuclear, biological, chemical, conventional and laser-guided weapons has been unconstitutionally compromised by a tsunami of unbridled fundamentalist Christian exceptionalism, triumphalism and proselytizing. Read more
UPDATED 14 November 2008
When they say ‘there are no atheists in foxholes’ it’s slanderous…
As noted at the Stars and Stripes, the Secular Coalition for America held a news conference demanding new regulations to “protect young military members from…rampant religious discrimination in the services.”
In their press release, the Secular Coalition notes that one atheist military officer was “thwarted” in his attempt to lodge a complaint against a General officer who “opined that there were ‘no atheists in foxholes.'” The officer “contends this statement qualifies as unlawful discrimination under current Army regulations.”
As with some other complaints of religious issues in the military, the Coalition maintains that the perpetrators are Read more
Prior to dropping its previous lawsuit against the Department of Defense, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation filed a new lawsuit on behalf of an Army soldier who was required to attend military formations at which “sectarian Christian” prayers were delivered.
The relief sought by the MRFF is not that the prayers end, but that the soldier not be required to attend those mandatory formations. The unwieldiness of implementing this relief would have the effect of requiring all mandatory formations (whether in fact or perceived) to be free from sectarian prayer (which the 11th Circuit said would be impossible to define), or simply free from any prayer at all.
In its current filing, the MRFF does not attempt to prove that the prayers advanced a religion Read more
According to the Associated Press, the Army has given non-judicial punishment to a soldier who assaulted a fellow trainee (previous discussions). The assault has been widely reported in concert with the victim’s complaints of discrimination because of his Jewish faith; however, the Army indicates there was no evidence the incidents were related. Michael Weinstein disagreed, saying
Michael Handman was turned into a punching bag for the Army because of his religious faith.
The incidents were also reported at the blog Jews in Green, where CAPT Neil Block, USN (Ret), has commented. He was the retired Jewish officer and local leader brought in to provide an assessment of the situation, and his comments are enlightening.
Also noted at the Religion Clause.