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GOD’S SQUAD: Military At Risk As Sooner Delegation Helps Tear Down Church-State Wall

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Last week I had the pleasure to speak to Arnold Hamilton, who for years has written for the Oklahoma Observer. As friends tell me, the Oklahoma Observer is one of the last publications in Oklahoma that still practices real journalism and ceaselessly speaks truth to power. I can honestly say that the below article is one of the best articles ever written about the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) that I’ve ever read since we were founded in 2005, hence my republication of it.

NOTE: I’ll be in Tulsa – a ‘Bible Belt’ stronghold – next Saturday, September 21, at an event that will be open to the public. If you’re in the region, be sure to come to the Tulsa Interfaith Alliance’s annual Russell Bennett Award presentation at All Souls Unitarian Church, 2952 S. Peoria Ave. at 2:00 p.m.

GOD’S SQUAD: Military At Risk As Sooner Delegation Helps Tear Down Church-State Wall

BY ARNOLD HAMILTON

Mikey Weinstein lives a day’s drive west of Oklahoma in the mountainous, desert Southwest, but he knows all about the Sooner state.

He knows it has 77 counties, and every one of them voted Republican in the last two presidential elections.

He knows it is a hub of U.S. military operations, including three Air Force bases and Fort Sill.

And he knows it is home to a statistically small, yet rabid – and politically influential – slice of Christian fundamentalism that abhors religious pluralism and pursues a theocracy that mirrors an apocalyptic worldview.

All of which makes Oklahoma a near-perfect locale for Weinstein – founder and president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation – to make his case first-hand that “fanatical religiosity” within America’s armed forces is threatening national security.

“Give me 300 seconds – one for each of the Spartans killed at the Battle of Thermopylae – and I don’t know how you can possibly be against what we’re talking about,” says Weinstein, an Air Force Academy honors graduate.

“We’re a very aggressive and militant organization, but our militancy and aggression is in support of the Constitution.”

Weinstein will be the featured speaker at the Tulsa Interfaith Alliance’s annual Russell Bennett Award presentation Sept. 21 at All Souls Unitarian Church, 2952 S. Peoria Ave. at 2:00 p.m. – an appearance sure to stir up a religious right that reviles him as “Satan’s lawyer” and “Field General of the Godless Armies of Satan.”

The timing of his Tulsa visit is significant, given that members of Oklahoma’s congressional delegation – particularly Tulsa Rep. Jim Bridenstine – are busy cultivating the canard that a War on Christianity threatens America as we know it and severely restricts the religious freedoms of America’s heroic warriors.

It’s a fantasy, of course, conceived by an unholy alliance of rightwing conservatives in pursuit of political power and so-called religious Dominionists whose agenda features doing whatever is necessary to speed us toward Armageddon.

But the illusion doesn’t keep wingnuts in Congress from introducing spurious legislation like Louisiana Rep. John Fleming’s so- called Religious Liberty Amendment to the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act that supposedly would protect the First Amendment religious rights of those in uniform.

As the White House put it, Fleming’s proposal actually would limit “the discretion of commanders to address potentially problematic speech and actions within their units” and “have a significant adverse effect on good order, discipline, morale, and mission accomplishment.”

Of course, in zealot-land, the fact a Kenyan-born, Muslim, socialist president spoke against it is all the proof necessary that a War on Christianity exists.