As previously reported on the Religion Clause, TruthOut is reporting that Weinstein’s MRFF is again complaining about an outside Christian organization having access to the Pentagon. This time it was David Kistler’s HOPE ministries.
The article makes it unclear whether it is the theology that is the issue (since much of the article is a mockery of Kistler’s views) or the fact it was a religious organization.
While the writer makes it appear that it is “intuitively obvious” that the Pentagon again violated the ‘Constitutional separation of church and state,’ that is not the case. Chaplains routinely host outside visitors of varied religious persuasions for the spiritual benefit of their servicemen, which is their legal duty.
While Weinstein may disagree, the Constitution and the courts have supported the religious influence of the chaplaincy and its programs in the military.
Michael Weinstein opines about the state of Christianity in the military in a relatively tame editorial in the LA Times.
According to One News Now, Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, is concerned that organizations like Weinstein’s MRFF may “extrapolate” the IG’s recent decision regarding Pentagon officers’ participation in a Christian Embassy video (see recent post below).
The IG found that the officers violated Joint Ethics Regulations regarding endorsement of a “non-federal entity while in uniform,” but also noted that the violations had nothing to do with religion. Weinstein has proclaimed on his website that the report proves
…the intentional dismantling of the Constitutionally mandated wall separating church and state by some of the highest ranking officials in the Bush Administration and the U.S. military…
Perkins points out that the issue at stake was not Constitutionality or the Establishment Clause, as Weinstein insists, but non-religious ethics regulations.
Perkins expressed concern that “extrapolation” to the appearance of punishing the officers’ involvement with a religious organization (which was not the case) may “intimidate…military personnel from being associated with religion.”
Tikkun, which describes itself as a “progressive Jewish magazine,” recently gave an interview to Michael Weinstein in which he repeated many of his standard lines (America is equivalent to Nazi Germany in 1937, on a train to Slaughterville, withering fields of fire and sucking chest wounds, etc).
When Weinstein couldn’t come up with one, Tikkun told him it believed that the reason for the rise of the “Christian Right” was that only Christians were adequately responding to a “spiritual crisis” in America. Weintein was asked how he would address this “crisis:”
How do you build character in this multi-religious, pluralistic way, that is feminist, that is sensitive to people, and yet is part of this huge, military, dominate-the-world force that seems to be what the American military is up to now?
His response: Read more
As noted recently in Time magazine (and the Washington Post, as of 6 Aug), the Inspector General completed its investigation (on July 20th) into the participation of military officers in a Christian Embassy promotional video.
No “official” release of the “Official Use Only” report could be found, though a few sites have scanned copies–most notably, Michael Weinstein’s MRFF, which claims credit for instigating the investigation. [Edit: The IG has released a public version on their website. It is now available here.]
Notable quotes from the report:
Military officers who appeared in a promotional video for Christian Embassy improperly endorsed and participated with a non-federal entity while in uniform. (Violates JER Sections 2635.702b and 3-300a, and DoD and Service Regulations on uniform wear.)
Two participants were found not to have violated any rules, because though they personally endorsed Christian Embassy Read more
A Jewish Chaplain is being charged with desertion after moving to Canada after his resignation was denied.The Chaplain has enlisted the services of Mr. Michael Weinstein, who says he will sue the Army for “violating [the Chaplain’s] civil rights.”
The article has two interesting quotes. One includes a “disparaging term” for non-Jews, though no one in the article takes issue with the prejudicial term. The second is as follows:
The whole reason I volunteered to become a chaplain is because I was eager to help Jewish kids who chose the military and needed spiritual guidance while being far away from home serving in the Army.
Oddly, when Christians say the same thing, Weinstein accuses them of staging an “evangelical coup” in the military.
The Jewish Daily Forward notes that Mr. Michael Weinstein is taking issue with a JROTC text which “questions the validity” of the current popular interpretation of the phrase “separation of church and state.” Though religion is nowhere mentioned, he views this as an example of “evangelical Christianity’s creeping encroachment.” As is typical for a Weinstein article, it includes his latest tally of reported death threats. More interesting is Weinstein’s announcement that he is about to embark on a new “far-reaching litigation strategy.” He also has a new book in the works titled “Taking God to Court.”
Mr. Michael Weinstein delivers his standard lines in a recent interview with the LoneStar Iconoclast. (Article contains vulgar language.) Interestingly, he asks the question:
…when Jerry Faldwell [sic] or Pat Robertson come out with eight million bumper stickers saying, “Vote Christian,” you tell me how that isn’t insubordination, sedition, or treason?