Though media figures have ignored it when they’ve interviewed him, Michael Weinstein has long been an avid conspiracy theorist. As he noted when he first started his self-described “war” against “the wrong kind” of Christians several years ago, it has nothing to do with religious freedom: His war is about American Christians trying to take over the world to persecute Jews. Quoth Weinstein:
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, the pogroms, the Inquisition…
This country is going through—right now—a transition from A to B. Read more
There is a mantra many young officers and enlisted troops learn in their first few days of basic training: “The Air Force Times is not your friend.” It is not entirely meant as an adversarial statement; it is simply a recognition of the fact the commercial enterprise (despite its name) has nothing to do with the official Air Force, and its goal is to make money by selling papers.
That said, it is widely quoted when it raises controversial subjects (again, publicity affects the bottom line). It has frequently covered issues of religion in the military — naturally, a controversial subject to a niche group of people. When it has done so, it has rarely been friendly. In a 2008 editorial, for example, the paper registered its support for the ACLU in its bid to end US Naval Academy mealtime prayers. (Four years on, the prayers continue.)
Still, it was surprising to recently see Michael Weinstein’s MRFF, including his research assistant Chris Rodda, so excitedly — and repeatedly — promote the Air Force Times. In one example, referring to an Air Force Times “article,” the MRFF cited Read more
Rick Baker, representing Michael Weinstein’s Military Religious Freedom Foundation, recently expressed incredulity that the $40 million dollar “Center for Character and Leadership Development” being constructed at the US Air Force Academy was really for the stated purpose. He thinks it is really for the forcible promotion of Christianity:
The 40,000 or so square foot subterranean building soon to be under construction near the AFA Chapel…seems a bit over-sized for the project and more likely a place where Chrisitan Dominionist Catachism Read more
BrigGen Dana Born, Dean of the US Air Force Academy, has announced her intention to retire in the summer of 2013.
Ordinarily, such a move wouldn’t be newsworthy. However, Gen Born has been under constant attack by Michael Weinstein — aided by his veritable PR arm, Pam Zubeck of the Colorado Springs Independent — for several years. Zubeck, who has long had sources on the USAFA faculty eager to undermine their own institution, “scooped” even the official US military announcement of Born’s retirement, and she did so without attempting to hide her bias:
Brig. Gen. Dana Born, one of the most controversial figures Read more
David Fitzkee (Maj, USA, Retired) is a law professor at the US Air Force Academy. In the fall of 2011 he had an article published in Parameters (vol. 41, no. 3), (“The US Army’s Senior Professional Journal”) entitled “Religious Speech in the Military: Freedoms and Limitations.”
The 14-page essay is an interesting read, and it opens with a strong premise:
It is crucial that military leaders understand and respect the scope of religious speech rights. Honoring the constitutional rights of subordinates is inherently the “right thing to do” in a society and military governed by the rule of law, particularly when all military leaders take an oath to support the Constitution.
Unfortunately, the very next paragraph of the introduction sets a poor tone for the paper:
Failure to understand the rights and limits concerning religious speech can adversely affect the mission…It can result in internal investigations into allegations of violations or even lawsuits against the military, both of which entail substantial time, effort, and distraction from the mission.
Maj Fitzkee aptly notes that “investigations into allegations of violations” can “distract from the mission” — but he illogically assumes Read more
The US Department of State recently released its 2011 Report on International Religious Freedom covering 199 nations and territories. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the state of religious freedom is worsening in the world:
“When it comes to this human right- this key feature of stable, secure, peaceful societies- the world is sliding backwards,” Clinton said.
While much of the publicity has focused on Egypt and Libya for obvious reasons, Secretary Clinton’s statement is particularly enlightening in that two of the primary countries called out in the report are Iraq and Afghanistan — whose governments have only survived because of the support of the United States and the sacrifices of its military.
In other words, religious freedom is suffering Read more
Critics of religious freedom in the US military have sometimes claimed that speaking one’s faith while being associated with the military is forbidden. For example, Michael Weinstein’s MRFF used to have a stockpile of chaplains’ articles from local base papers they would re-publish, often with little comment except shock and the implication that what the military member (a chaplain) was doing was wrong (an implication their acolytes were quick to assume was fact).
MRFF volunteer Rick Baker has gone further, saying uniformed officers can’t even put a religious bumper sticker on their private car. Chris Rodda, Weinstein’s research assistant, has gone so far as to explicitly state it is wrong for officers to “publicly espouse” their religious beliefs on the internet, even when they do so as private citizens. (She’s wrong, of course, but that hasn’t stopped her in the past…)
It is worth noting that these criticisms have been aimed Read more
Lost in the recent “scandal” over the revelations that family-run Chick-fil-A supports marriage (shocking, isn’t it?) were the other words of President and CEO Dan Cathy. Cathy expects that Christians will be missionaries to the world wherever they are:
Cathy believes strongly that Christians are missionaries in the workplace. “Jesus had a lot of things to say about people who work and live in the business community,” he said
While representatives of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation will claim this is “code speak” for Christians taking over the world, this is how Cathy explained Read more