The following letter was written by a client of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO:

I am Spartacus.

I am over 100 cadets strong at the USAF Academy.  I am also the seventh Spartacus in succession, covering more than six and a half years since first appearing within the AF Academy Cadet Wing in the summer of 2007.

We, of Spartacus, live a total lie every single day and night to survive here.

In our world here at the Air Force Academy, having the indispensable odor of a practicing, “all in”, committed Christian among our peers and superiors means being accepted as one of the pack.  With that “in” smell, no one bothers us, tries to convert us, questions our honor, our commitment to service, our motives—we are generally left to our own devices, studying, practicing, flying, athletics and marching.

Frequently, though, and to our disgust, we feel forced to embrace the odor; to “roll in it.”  If the odor fades, or we slip outside of the pack for too long and the alphas and betas sense that we are drifting, we are reined back in with a subtle sniff or bark or nip to make sure that we know our place.  If we question or run away or attempt to fight back, then the pack circles and strikes.  We’ve seen this happen to our friends and (mostly) to those outside our pack and it’s just not worth the risk.  The pack howls: “He doesn’t get it.  He can’t be one of our honorable pack.  She can’t be an alpha and lead us.  She can’t excel in THIS pack—not while we rule the pack.  Not while we’re the majority.”

Some cadets decide to fight, but that doesn’t last long.  They’re trouble makers.  They’re not team players.  They don’t have “character” or ethical standards.  They’re deviants.  We’ll remember them and keep them at bay.  “See, he doesn’t bow his head when WE pray.  She’s not one of us.”  Branded as outsiders, those who choose to remain may form a small group that meets in a basement.  They console themselves with stories of persecution, but they will remain outside the circles of power dictated by the larger pack.  They are constantly reminded, too, that they don’t have the right odor and that they can only be “saved” if they give in and clearly surrender to the pack’s standard of what Jesus is supposed to be. And, to the pack members, especially great rewards come to those that bring the errant cadets back to the pack.

We, of Spartacus, don’t fight, though.  Not yet.  We admire those who do, but our dream is to succeed and excel and prepare to serve once we escape the Academy’s South Gate entrance’s gravity permanently.  We deeply fear that word of our not belonging to the great pack (or even suspicion thereof) will follow us after the Thunderbirds roar overhead at our graduation and that friends and leaders of USAFA’s pack will be all too ready to poison our futures, wherever we go. We’ve seen it happen.  Over and over again. We know it will.

So, we choose to take (what some would say is) the coward’s path, rationalizing that the ends (serving our nation honorably) DO justify the means.  We hold our noses and, though we loathe that particular smell, we roll.  We roll with the pack watching us, we go to the prayer breakfasts quietly, but just often enough to quell suspicion, so we can eat and sleep and study and march in peace and unmolested.  We put the “right’ Christian books, DVDs and CDs on our shelves.  We always enthusiastically say Merry Christmas, not Happy Holidays.  We know that MOST of our squadron-mates find the smell of this “only way, truth and life” to be homey and comforting, den-like and warm.  They gain great confidence and (some would claim) a sense of peace from it, but it’s not our personal perfume, it’s not how we’d LIKE to feel, and so it comes at a terrible and frightening cost–to our spirit, our psyche, our self esteem and our personal sense of honor.

Occasionally, and at great risk, some of us—introduced silently, as roaming eyes, during group prayer, occasionally meet a sympathetic glance—secretly gather away from the pack and vent our rage at the AF Academy system that maintains and feeds the pack.  In our little subpack, we rant that the pack doesn’t just exclude and shun outsiders and those who don’t believe in Jesus Christ, but in particular those who don’t believe in him robustly enough; the “right way.”  There is only one accepted aroma in the pack. It's the unforgiving stench of brutal evangelism, fundamentalism, restriction, and judgment.  We rage that everyone just assumes that all cadets must beseech God to be honorable, that if we don’t add four special words (“So help me God”) to our oaths, at appropriately audible levels. we will be “outed,” judged for being terminally unworthy.  Mostly, we scream about needing to roll in the odor to succeed and how much we hate the dishonorable act of lying to everyone, especially ourselves.  When Spartacus graduates at the end of each academic year, we choose a successor.  I am the seventh.

Occasionally, we get glimmers of hope, though—only to be dashed by those we assume must be the highest pack leaders—long-time members themselves, in good standing since they were cadets.  When a USAFA employee makes a very public proclamation that he will ignore published Air Force policy and try to bring as many in his organization into the pack as he can, try to convince all those around him to roll in the pack’s odor, we hope that this will finally cause the break—but nothing happens.  When it is discovered that one of the high counselors of the pack has a long history of practicing shaman, and universally discredited, psychology at the cost of who-knows-how-many, all in the name of the pack, nothing happens.  We’re told that he doesn’t REALLY interact with the other wolves—he’s just the “chief of counseling wolves”.  Meanwhile, at least nine cadets of Spartacus fear his influence because they know that HE THINKS he can change their “chosen” deviant lesbian, gay and bisexual ways.

And then, just this week, something truly remarkable happens.  One of the pack—we assume he had to be one of the pack—speaks the simplest truths by reading an Air Force Instruction aloud.  (We thought the AFI was just window-dressing to calm the jackals, never really to be enforced or even spoken.)  He tells hundreds under his command that their religion is their personal decision and that they should not “share” it with their students and subordinates because of the effect it might have in the classroom and the office—because of the POWER inherent to the military and educational hierarchy.  That he, and we, should respect the privacy and beliefs of all, and that belief or non-belief should not be a basis for judgment.  He actually recognized exactly how we feel every day and said so publicly.  Some cheered (deep inside themselves), but no one clapped nor even commented beyond muffled whispers because, in the end, he’s just not the Alpha Wolf.

You are, Lt. Gen. Johnson. And only you.

Some of us thought, “Wow, this is great.  Now that this is out in the open, the Superintendent, Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson, will be asked about it and she’ll support his words publicly and maybe, just maybe, we can be ourselves and stop the charade.”  But, we haven’t heard a thing from you at all. Deafening silence. Why?

We could assume that you support his statements, but we can’t be sure because we’ve been badly burned by this before.  We’ve been told publicly, at the Academy’s own symposium on character and leadership, by the previous Superintendent’s wife (and others) that our number one priority must be GOD—presumably her idea of God (Jesus-on-steroids) and that without faith — HER faith — we are nothing.  Our leaders still “invite” us to the Prayer Luncheon and the Prayer Breakfast and take mental attendance of the pack members there with heads bowed.  Nothing’s changed in our eyes—yet.

Please speak for us, Lt. Gen. Johnson.  Please, ma’am, reiterate, for all to see and hear, the Dean’s words, expand upon them, and START the process by which we can all stop the lies and live unjudged, unsegregated, and honorably.  We can’t and won’t be open without that step.  We can’t run the risk.  We can’t use the USAFA chain of command we’re taught to trust because we fear that the pack IS the chain.  We want to serve.  But, until the Alpha Wolf tells us otherwise, you leave us no choice but to hold our noses and roll in that odor to stay safe.

We detest that we have no other choices.

I am Spartacus.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is up against well-funded extremist religious organizations. Your donations allow us to continue our fight in the courts and in the media to fight for separation of church and state in the U.S. military. Please make a fully tax-deductible donation today at helpbuildthewall.org.

Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein, Esq. is founder and president of the six-time Nobel Peace Prize-nominated Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) and an honor graduate of the Air Force Academy. He served as a White House counsel in the Reagan Administration and as the Committee Management Officer of the “Iran-Contra” Investigation. He is also the former General Counsel to H. Ross Perot and Perot Systems Corporation. Mikey is an honor graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and a former J.A.G. in the U.S. Air Force. His two sons, daughter-in-law, son-in law, and brother-in-law are also graduates of USAFA. In December 2012, Mikey was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in U.S. Defense by Defense News. He is the author of “With God On Our Side” (2006, St. Martin’s Press) and “No Snowflake in an Avalanche” (2012, Vireo).

‘Tis the season when goodwill, family unity, fireside warmth, and generosity seemingly reign; the more discerning eye, however, clearly evinces the cold chill of holiday hypocrisy, crass commercialism, and spiritually vacant pseudo-religious posturing. Within the United States Armed Forces, one needn’t wait for the scent of holiday spices and burning yule logs to witness a similarly ugly display.

All year ‘round throughout the U.S. military, we hear of “good order, morale, and discipline” being the ultimate mandate of the day. The sad truth, however, is that instead of the rule of Constitutional law applying equitably across the ranks, we instead see the brutal rule of the jungle – “honor among thieves” – rife with state-sanctioned, fundamentalist Christian proselytizing, corruption, wretchedly obvious glad-handing, and an absolute dearth of accountability. The repercussions for our brave war-fighters and, consequently, the essence of American national security itself, are extraordinarily grave.

Case in point: my alma mater and the alma mater of 4 of my kids, the scandal-drenched United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) in Colorado Springs, CO. Out of our 35,383 clients across the U.S. military (96% of whom are practicing Christians), the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) currently represents 435 cadet, staff, and faculty clients at USAFA alone. Of that number, 372 are practicing Protestants and Roman Catholics. Further, 27 of these clients identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB).

Despite pathetically disingenuous damage control efforts by newly-minted Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson, the Academy simply can’t shrug off the pungent stench of Keystone Kops negligence and willful malfeasance which it has ignominiously accumulated over its last deplorable decade of serial scandals. Clearly, the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations (OSI) agrees. The arresting news broke only a few days ago that the OSI allegedly “recruited” (read: strong-armed) multiple Academy cadet informants into forced participation in “FBI-style” sting operations to allegedly infiltrate those suspected of sexual assault and drug distributors among the ranks of Academy personnel. It is alleged by at least one former cadet, since expelled from USAFA, that the OSI instructed and even encouraged cadet informants to break laws, as well as the venerated Cadet Honor Code, to buttress the likelihood of the accomplishment of their informant “missions”.  They were further apparently promised by the OSI, it is alleged, that there would be no negative consequences for doing so. Suffice it to say that such “promises” by the OSI appear to be a load of crap. Minority cadets appear to have been disproportionately targeted by the OSI both as targets and informants. Having personally witnessed and experienced, as an Academy cadet, utterly outrageous acts of unconstitutional depravity that shocked the conscience from this very same OSI, I cannot say I am even remotely surprised. Stay Tuned.

These disgraceful revelations burst upon the scene contemporaneously with USAFA’s senior leadership’s absurd attempts to paint “happy faces” on their windows in order to obscure a blatantly intolerant and dreadfully oppressive anti-gay atmosphere at the Academy. Last month, the world learned that the Academy is employing Dr. Mike Rosebush, an Academy grad and allegedly “ex-gay” fundamentalist Christian whose entire professional career has been geared toward “curing homosexuality,” fighting “unwanted same-sex attractions” among Christian men “acting upon their homoerotic temptations.” Homophobia, thy name be USAFA.

Rosebush’s position at USAFA? Well, according to the Air Force’s own Global Address List, Rosebush is “Chief, Coaching Development” at the Academy’s much vaunted and revered “Center for Character and Leadership Development.” Meaning that Rosebush’s “work” – and the mind clearly boggles here – sets the standard for what constitutes leaders within the Air Force Academy, specifically, and the United States Air Force, generally.

USAFA attempted to ridiculously counter this shocking news about Rosebush by essentially exhorting the public not to fear the possibility of any harm here.  The Academy vociferously vouchsafed that Rosebush was absolutely NOT having ANY impact upon the “character and leadership development” of any cadets whatsoever. Indeed, perish the thought. And who could argue? After all, Rosebush is a senior official at the Academy’s “Center for Character and Leadership Development.” Thus, it would be simply ludicrous and counter intuitive in the extremis to presume that he would have ANY effect on the “character and leadership development” of Academy cadets, right? Um, wait? Hey, I told you the mind boggles.

USAFA’s public (mis)information office sprang into full gear, parading openly LGBQ cadets before the microphones and cameras in a carefully stage-managed “Potemkin Village” production meant to create the utopian illusion of the Air Force Academy’s pristine inclusion and sexual preference diversity. A MRFF cadet client at USAFA (whose identity is being kept confidential for justified fear of reprisal) publicly condemned these “self-serving” claims of providing a welcoming atmosphere for LGBQ cadets, staff, and faculty as a “crock” and a brutal affront to the human dignity of LGBQ personnel at USAFA. This Academy-staged spectacle of shame reminded me of the horrific tragedy of the infamous “orchestra” made up of concentration camp victims at Auschwitz.

Many of the worst marks of disgrace on the collective body of the Academy are the self-inflicted result of its Constitutionally derelict leaders violating the religious liberties of cadets, faculty, and staff. This affliction of the most basic civil rights of Air Force Academy personnel is wrought by means of aggressive fundamentalist Christian preaching and proselytizing while in uniform – a wholesale violation of the very same United States Constitution which these leaders have sworn to support and defend with their very lives.

Indeed, earlier this semester, 7 Academy cadets came to MRFF for guidance and assistance as new clients begging for help when their USAFA professor wrote the following “equation” on the blackboard whilst concomitantly declaring to his/her class that this mathematical formula was the “only one you will need to pass this class”; to wit, “1 Cross plus 3 Nails Equals 4given”. This professor is an Academy grad him/herself, is on active duty and was in uniform at the time. Yes, we have a picture of the blackboard “equation”. But our cadet clients are terrified to come forward. And they should be. A loving father of one of these cadets wrote me an e-mail explaining exactly why.

And, just last month, in my capacity as Founder and President of MRFF, I received a “hate” email that addressed the litanies of egregious, fundamentalist Christian supremacy religious violations that have earned weapons-grade infamy for the Academy. The email read, in part: “God will always be a part of the US Military even when you are gone to meet him face to face… I am on staff at USAFA and will talk about Jesus Christ my Lord and savior to everyone that I work with.”

Who wrote this wonderful email? None other than Allen Willoughby, head athletic trainer and assistant athletic director at USAFA’s prep school. Predictably, USAFA issued a statement universally defending and exonerating Willoughby, stating that the hate mail was sent “in his personal capacity,” and that “no action is being taken against the individual.” Of course, in today’s military, “good leaders” cover up for one another, right? George Marshall spins in his grave. Hmm? I wonder what USAFA “leadership” would have done had Willoughby stated, instead, that he would “talk about male superiority over females and the virtues of sexual assault to everyone that I work with?”

Speaking of stinking, sexist misogyny and command-directed female exploitation, further south in Texas, a prostitution ring was discovered at Fort Hood. And who was the pimp? None other than Sgt. 1st Class Gregory McQueen, a man employed by the U.S. military’s sexual assault and harassment program who is said to have “tried to recruit [a young private] to have sex with high-ranking soldiers and sexually assaulted her during what she termed an ‘interview.’” All signs so far indicate that this is merely the tip of an iceberg that lies extant across the military.

Meanwhile, our civil rights foundation perpetually receives a sadly steady torrent of anguished testimonials from myriad sailors, soldiers, marines, airmen, cadets, midshipmen, national guardsmen, reservists and veterans regarding their own profound suffering at the hands of corrupt-to-the-bone so-called “leaders.” These plaintive pleas for help have included forced attendance at military Holiday Balls with clear, Christian sectarian religious themes, the coerced swearing of religious oaths, mandatory “spiritual fitness” testing and a veritable plethora of other “spiritual rape” grievances large and small across the entirety of the United States armed forces home and abroad. Taken as a whole, this sea of unconstitutional oppression represents a vast, systemic and chronic internal war of attrition against the good order, morale, and discipline which is supposed to comprise the sterling sine qua non of the foundational essence of what our American military represents and fights for.

As the old Russian proverb goes, “a fish rots from the head down.” The U.S. Military is the most technologically sophisticated and lethal organization ever devised by humankind, yet it often finds itself helplessly inert due to its own byzantine bureaucracy and those who resort to any and all means to jealously and zealously guard their personal privileges and those of their partners-in-crime. We at MRFF see the endless grievances of painful denigration and bigotry experienced by MRFF’s armed forces clientele who are, in fact, our nation’s bravest war fighters across the spectrum of the 4 DoD service branches. This despicable religious/fascistic tyranny incontrovertibly illustrates that the careless and bullying use of martial hierarchy and misapplied physical force are a clear and present national security danger to the health and well-being of both military individuals and their respective organizations alike.

Presently, a new tactic is being employed and deployed by this twisted Christian version of the Taliban. We are seeing a cowardly swarm of smarmy, fundamentalist Christian organizations such as the Family Research Council, American Family Association, Focus on the Family, and Officers’ Christian Fellowship, endlessly whining and screaming that it is now THEY who are the “real” victims of “Obama’s anti-Christian Defense Department.” Those among the Pentagon’s top brass and civilian legislatures who take these fraudulent, contrived and mendacious affirmations of victimhood seriously would do well to consider the real “Clear and Present Danger” to good order, morale, and discipline in America’s mighty military:

It’s the hypocrisy, stupid.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is up against well-funded extremist religious organizations. Your donations allow us to continue our fight in the courts and in the media to fight for separation of church and state in the U.S. military. Please make a fully tax-deductible donation today at helpbuildthewall.org.

Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein, Esq. is founder and president of the six-time Nobel Peace Prize-nominated Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) and an honor graduate of the Air Force Academy. He served as a White House counsel in the Reagan Administration and as the Committee Management Officer of the “Iran-Contra” Investigation. He is also the former General Counsel to H. Ross Perot and Perot Systems Corporation. Mikey is an honor graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and a former J.A.G. in the U.S. Air Force. His two sons, daughter-in-law, son-in law, and brother-in-law are also graduates of USAFA. In December 2012, Mikey was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in U.S. Defense by Defense News. He is the author of “With God On Our Side” (2006, St. Martin’s Press) and “No Snowflake in an Avalanche” (2012, Vireo).

The following is a letter from myself, in my capacity as the Military Religious Freedom Foundation's Founder and President, and MRFF Director for LGBT Affairs/Advisory Board Member Edith Disler. It is addressed to the Acting Secretary of the Air Force, Eric Fanning:

Eric Fanning
Acting Secretary of the Air Force
1670 Air Force Pentagon
Washington, DC 20330-1670

Dear Acting Secretary Fanning,

         With great shock and an enormous sense of disgust, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) has been informed of the notorious anti-gay bigot Dr. Mike Rosebush’s employment at the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA). Needless to say, the employment of a fundamentalist Christian, "gay conversion therapy" advocate comes as a grave insult and palpable threat to USAFA’s lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) cadets, staffers, and faculty members, including MRFF’s 27 LGB clients at the Academy. Accordingly, MRFF demands that USAFA immediately terminate the employment of the notorious homophobe Rosebush.

         Rosebush has devoted his entire professional career to the bullying and harassment of the LGBTQ community, carried out under the highly dubious guise of "curing homosexuality," a sexual orientation that he likens to "addiction" and disease. Rosebush is a former vice president of the rabidly fundamentalist Christian, Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family, one of the foremost anti-gay organizations in the country. Additionally, Rosebush has also been a clinical member of NARTH (the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality). According to the promotional materials for his book "Sanctification Coaching," Rosebush is an "expert" on fighting "unwanted same-sex attractions" among Christian men "acting upon their homoerotic temptations."  The man has gained fame and notoriety by taking insipid quack science to ever-lower depths of absurdity. Indeed, the American Psychological Association (APA), in its "Resolution on Appropriate Affirmative Responses to Sexual Orientation Distress and Change Efforts," has taken great pains to underscore such "therapy" as merely the expression of prejudice and discrimination, with a basis in ignorance and the distortion or active disdain of scientific data. Even Exodus International, the organization for which Rosebush served as Professional Counselors’ Network director, has publicly apologized for the harm caused by the espousal of the patently false notion that homosexuals can be "cured."

         Implausibly, Rosebush now finds his employment at the United States Air Force Academy. Reporter Pam Zubeck, writing for the Colorado Springs Independent on a story about Rosebush, interviewed MRFF just a few days ago. In that interview, Ms. Zubeck informed MRFF that Rosebush was hired at the Academy in 2009 to work in the Academy's "plans and programs directorate," which develops institutional policy, plans, and assessment strategies for commanders. That same year, the APA comprehensively debunked Rosebush’s conversion or "reparative" therapy/quackery. Zubeck further advised MRFF that, in 2011, Rosebush transferred to the Academy’s Center for Character and Leadership Development where he develops programs for a team of USAFA counselors. The mind literally boggles at the wretched thought of Rosebush being employed at USAFA anywhere, but especially at a place described as the Academy's "Center for Character and Leadership Development"!

         Mike Rosebush has absolutely no place in the hallowed halls of our military service academies. Such casehardened proponents of old-school horrific bigotry and putrescent prejudice, if employed by the United States Air Force Academy, will no doubt use their positions to erode and denigrate the precious civil rights of airmen, cadets, faculty and staff. We call on the leadership of the United States Air Force to expeditiously and comprehensively root out this menace to good order, morale, and discipline at USAFA.

        The Military Religious Freedom Foundation demands that USAFA exercises its responsibility towards the civil rights and protections of cadets, staff, and faculty, and immediately terminate the employment of "ex-gay" fraudster Dr. Mike Rosebush.

Sincerely,


Michael L. "Mikey" Weinstein, Esq.
Founder and President
Military Religious Freedom Foundation

Edith A. Disler, PhD, MBA, Lt. Col. (USAF) Ret.
MRFF Director for LGBT Affairs,
Advisory Board Member,
Military Religious Freedom Foundation

CC:
            General Mark A. Welsh III, Chief of Staff of the Air Force
            Lieutenant General Michelle D. Johnson, Superintendent of USAFA

 

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is up against well-funded extremist religious organizations. Your donations allow us to continue our fight in the courts and in the media to fight for separation of church and state in the U.S. military. Please make a fully tax-deductible donation today at helpbuildthewall.org.

Michael L. "Mikey" Weinstein, Esq. is founder and president of the five-time Nobel Peace Prize-nominated Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) and an honor graduate of the Air Force Academy. He served as a White House counsel in the Reagan Administration and as the Committee Management Officer of the "Iran-Contra" Investigation. He is also the former General Counsel to H. Ross Perot and Perot Systems Corporation. Mikey is an honor graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and a former J.A.G. in the U.S. Air Force. His two sons, daughter-in-law, son-in law, and brother-in-law are also graduates of USAFA. In December 2012, Mikey was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in U.S. Defense by Defense News. He is the author of "With God On Our Side" (2006, St. Martin's Press) and "No Snowflake in an Avalanche" (2012, Vireo).

 

MIKEY’S NOTE: Once again the Military Religious Freedom Foundation is on the frontlines of the fight to assure religious liberty at my alma mater, the United States Air Force Academy. In terms of hearing out the grievances of our clients, the recently-appointed superintendent of the academy, Lt. Gen. Michele D. Johnson, has been one of the worst out of the four Academy Superintendents MRFF has worked with since our organization was founded, hence the billboard. Without further ado, here is our press statement regarding the posting of our billboard. As always, you can learn more at http://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org :

(COLORADO SPRINGS) On Wednesday, November 6, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) made a bold gesture in its fight to keep church and state separate in the United States military. Protesting the continued usage of unconstitutional religious tests at the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA), MRFF posted a billboard at the northwest corner of North Nevada Ave. and Garden of the Gods Road (facing east), one of the busiest thoroughfares in Colorado Springs, CO.

MRFF’s latest salvo comes less than a month after USAFA admitted that its honor oath has contained the phrase “So help me God” since 1984. Under fierce MRFF pressure last month, the Academy finally relented and made the unconstitutional religious phrase “optional.” MRFF currently has 435 cadets, staff and clients at USAFA, 372 of whom self-identify as practicing Christians, both Protestant and Roman Catholic.

Former White House counsel to the Reagan administration, USAFA Honor Graduate, and MRFF Founder and President Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein disagrees with the change. Weinstein maintains that those cadets who opt out of swearing the oath would “stick out like a tarantula on a wedding cake” if the offending words remain intact in the Honor Oath, as is presently the case. Neither West Point nor Annapolis (both USAFA's sister service academies), use those words in their respective Honor Codes or Oaths.

MRFF’s billboard, which reads “This oath was good enough for George Washington – Why not the Air Force Academy?” contains a photograph of an oath signed in 1778 at Valley Forge by President (then-General) George Washington, which makes no religious reference whatsoever.

The foundation has clashed with the USAFA administration numerous times in the past decade due to the strong presence of, and unbridled support for, fundamentalist evangelical Christianity at the Academy.

A long series of previous religious liberty violations at USAFA, also exposed by MRFF, have led to a several specious investigations by the U.S. Air Force and continued efforts of dubious intentions to establish a so-called "religious sensitivity training" regimen. As recently as mid-October, 2013, Mr. Weinstein met personally with Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson to inform her of several very recent, egregious, unconstitutional religious civil rights violations affecting cadets, staff and faculty at USAFA.

After being initially notified by investigative reporter Pam Zubeck of the Colorado Springs Independent of a photograph containing the Honor Oath wording, Weinstein contacted the vice superintendent at USAFA. A mere 68 minutes later, Johnson herself contacted Weinstein, pledging to swiftly address this serious issue and notifying him that a framed poster of the Honor Oath with the objectionable words "So help me God" had been immediately taken down.

According to Chris Rodda, MRFF Senior Research Director, the civil rights foundation posted the billboard “as a reminder of the true history of military oaths.” This history thoroughly debunks the revisionist history espoused by Christian fundamentalist organizations and individuals who erroneously claim that the phrase “So Help Me God” was commonly used by America’s Founding Fathers.

Weinstein is currently caucusing with MRFF legal counsel and potential USAFA plaintiffs about a follow-on Federal lawsuit against the Academy if the four words, "So help me God," are not removed from the oath.

Speaking from his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Weinstein explained, "We have absolutely NO objection if anyone ever wished to say those words after reciting the USAFA Honor Oath, and we encourage them to do so if they are so inspired. Our sole objection is that those words remain an integral part of the Honor Oath, therefore making it all too clear to those taking the Oath what the ‘approved USAFA solution’ is to completing the Oath.” 

MRFF, a foundation that has been the voice of the voiceless in regards to religious civil liberty violations within the U.S. Military, has a growing client base of over 35,000 servicemembers, veterans, National Guard, reservist, and civilian armed forces personnel throughout the major service branches. The foundation was recently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, a feat accomplished for the sixth time over the course of five consecutive years. In December 2012, Mikey Weinstein was named “one of the 100 Most Influential People in U.S. Defense” by Defense News, a Gannett publication that represents “the world’s biggest military newsroom.”

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is up against well-funded extremist religious organizations. Your donations allow us to continue our fight in the courts and in the media to fight for separation of church and state in the U.S. military. Please make a fully tax-deductible donation today at helpbuildthewall.org.

Michael L. "Mikey" Weinstein, Esq. is founder and president of the five-time Nobel Peace Prize-nominated Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) and an honor graduate of the Air Force Academy. He served as a White House counsel in the Reagan Administration and as the Committee Management Officer of the "Iran-Contra" Investigation. He is also the former General Counsel to H. Ross Perot and Perot Systems Corporation. Mikey is an honor graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and a former J.A.G. in the U.S. Air Force. His two sons, daughter-in-law, son-in law, and brother-in-law are also graduates of USAFA. In December 2012, Mikey was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in U.S. Defense by Defense News. He is the author of "With God On Our Side" (2006, St. Martin's Press) and "No Snowflake in an Avalanche" (2012, Vireo).

Dear readers: I’m sharing the following press release from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) to alert you to the invaluable work that our fighting civil rights organization is doing on a daily basis. We will continue to ceaselessly fight back against the attempts by these arrogant fundamentalist Christians to erode our sacrosanct Constitutional protections against their "Weaponized Gospel of Christ," no matter the cost. - Mikey Weinstein

(ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO) In a recent press release, ultra-conservative partisan organization "Judicial Watch" stated that on September 10, 2013 they filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Pentagon for "all communications" between the Defense Department (DoD) and Michael L. "Mikey" Weinstein, Founder and President of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF).

As recently as September 12, 2013, blatantly anti-Constitutional, partisan, and fundamentalist Christian representatives of organizations that have been characterized as anti-gay hate groups have met with DoD officials to lobby for the ability of certain officers and servicemembers to aggressively proselytize their subordinates and fellow uniformed personnel. In some cases, this proselytizing (in their words, "evangelizing") has taken the form of anti-gay discrimination, bullying, and harassment of the worst kind. On the civilian front, these organizations have aggressively fought for the passage of Constitutionally disastrous Amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2014.

While the Judicial Watch press release feeds into the deliberately false notion that Mr. Weinstein and the MRFF have some "seat at the table" of the Obama White House and Administration and a shared mission to eliminate every expression of the Christian faith by servicemembers, the truth testifies to an altogether different reality. MRFF has fought tirelessly in the courts and in the media to expose and rectify only those instances, albeit legion in number, of so-called "religious expression" that have grievously infringed upon the Constitutional rights of our armed servicemembers. Our armed forces members are entitled to these precious rights by virtue of the No Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and the "no religious test" prohibition of Clause 3, Article VI.

MRFF has long observed a continued cozy and incestuous relationship between an activist segment of the highest echelons of the Pentagon and these noxious fundamentalist Christian organizations. Thus, on September 23, 2013, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation submitted a FOIA request demanding:

  1. All correspondence, emails, or other records related to the September 12, 2013 meeting at the Pentagon between representatives of the "Restore Military Religious Freedom Coalition" and any Air Force or other Department of Defense personnel, including but not limited to those present at the meeting.
  2. All other correspondence, emails, or other records on any subject between representatives of the "Restore Military Religious Freedom Coalition" and/or its constituent member organizations (including but not limited to the Alliance Defending Freedom, the American Family Association, Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, and the Family Research Council) and any Air Force or other Department of Defense personnel.

Speaking from his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Mr. Weinstein stated, "This 'big lie' fantasy that there is some 'war on Christians' within the military is a complete perversion of the truth. The fundamentalist Christian religious extremists who are spreading these absolutely blatant falsehoods are using dog-whistle politics to hoodwink Americans into allowing for the handing of a 'blank check,' a real license to kill, to the monstrous opponents of secular governance, religious pluralism, and democracy itself."

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is a five-time Nobel Peace Prize-nominated civil rights organization with a client base of almost 35,000 servicemembers, Department of Defense (DoD) civilian personnel, and armed services veterans – 96% of whom are practicing Christians (both Roman Catholic and Protestant). Since its inception in 2005, MRFF has been battling a growing crisis of unbridled religious extremism within the armed forces. This grave and growing national security threat has led to the relentless stripping-away of the very freedoms that these brave men and women have pledged to defend and secure at all costs.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is up against well-funded extremist religious organizations. Your donations allow us to continue our fight in the courts and in the media to fight for separation of church and state in the U.S. military. Please make a fully tax-deductible donation today at helpbuildthewall.org.

 Michael L. "Mikey" Weinstein, Esq. is founder and president of the five-time Nobel Peace Prize-nominated Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) and an honor graduate of the Air Force Academy. He served as a White House counsel in the Reagan Administration and as the Committee Management Officer of the "Iran-Contra" Investigation. He is also the former General Counsel to H. Ross Perot and Perot Systems Corporation. Mikey is an honor graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and a former J.A.G. in the U.S. Air Force. His two sons, daughter-in-law, son-in law, and brother-in-law are also graduates of USAFA. In December 2012, Mikey was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in U.S. Defense by Defense News. He is the author of "With God On Our Side" (2006, St. Martin's Press) and "No Snowflake in an Avalanche" (2012, Vireo).

Dear readers: I’m sharing the following press release from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) to alert you to the invaluable work that our fighting civil rights organization is doing on a daily basis. We will continue to ceaselessly fight back against the attempts by these arrogant fundamentalist Christians to erode our sacrosanct Constitutional protections against their "Weaponized Gospel of Christ," no matter the cost. - Mikey Weinstein

(ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO) In a recent press release, ultra-conservative partisan organization "Judicial Watch" stated that on September 10, 2013 they filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Pentagon for "all communications" between the Defense Department (DoD) and Michael L. "Mikey" Weinstein, Founder and President of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF).

As recently as September 12, 2013, blatantly anti-Constitutional, partisan, and fundamentalist Christian representatives of organizations that have been characterized as anti-gay hate groups have met with DoD officials to lobby for the ability of certain officers and servicemembers to aggressively proselytize their subordinates and fellow uniformed personnel. In some cases, this proselytizing (in their words, "evangelizing") has taken the form of anti-gay discrimination, bullying, and harassment of the worst kind. On the civilian front, these organizations have aggressively fought for the passage of Constitutionally disastrous Amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2014.

While the Judicial Watch press release feeds into the deliberately false notion that Mr. Weinstein and the MRFF have some "seat at the table" of the Obama White House and Administration and a shared mission to eliminate every expression of the Christian faith by servicemembers, the truth testifies to an altogether different reality. MRFF has fought tirelessly in the courts and in the media to expose and rectify only those instances, albeit legion in number, of so-called "religious expression" that have grievously infringed upon the Constitutional rights of our armed servicemembers. Our armed forces members are entitled to these precious rights by virtue of the No Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and the "no religious test" prohibition of Clause 3, Article VI.

MRFF has long observed a continued cozy and incestuous relationship between an activist segment of the highest echelons of the Pentagon and these noxious fundamentalist Christian organizations. Thus, on September 23, 2013, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation submitted a FOIA request demanding:

  1. All correspondence, emails, or other records related to the September 12, 2013 meeting at the Pentagon between representatives of the "Restore Military Religious Freedom Coalition" and any Air Force or other Department of Defense personnel, including but not limited to those present at the meeting.
  2. All other correspondence, emails, or other records on any subject between representatives of the "Restore Military Religious Freedom Coalition" and/or its constituent member organizations (including but not limited to the Alliance Defending Freedom, the American Family Association, Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, and the Family Research Council) and any Air Force or other Department of Defense personnel.

Speaking from his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Mr. Weinstein stated, "This 'big lie' fantasy that there is some 'war on Christians' within the military is a complete perversion of the truth. The fundamentalist Christian religious extremists who are spreading these absolutely blatant falsehoods are using dog-whistle politics to hoodwink Americans into allowing for the handing of a 'blank check,' a real license to kill, to the monstrous opponents of secular governance, religious pluralism, and democracy itself."

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is a five-time Nobel Peace Prize-nominated civil rights organization with a client base of almost 35,000 servicemembers, Department of Defense (DoD) civilian personnel, and armed services veterans – 96% of whom are practicing Christians (both Roman Catholic and Protestant). Since its inception in 2005, MRFF has been battling a growing crisis of unbridled religious extremism within the armed forces. This grave and growing national security threat has led to the relentless stripping-away of the very freedoms that these brave men and women have pledged to defend and secure at all costs.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is up against well-funded extremist religious organizations. Your donations allow us to continue our fight in the courts and in the media to fight for separation of church and state in the U.S. military. Please make a fully tax-deductible donation today at helpbuildthewall.org.

 Michael L. "Mikey" Weinstein, Esq. is founder and president of the five-time Nobel Peace Prize-nominated Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) and an honor graduate of the Air Force Academy. He served as a White House counsel in the Reagan Administration and as the Committee Management Officer of the "Iran-Contra" Investigation. He is also the former General Counsel to H. Ross Perot and Perot Systems Corporation. Mikey is an honor graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and a former J.A.G. in the U.S. Air Force. His two sons, daughter-in-law, son-in law, and brother-in-law are also graduates of USAFA. In December 2012, Mikey was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in U.S. Defense by Defense News. He is the author of "With God On Our Side" (2006, St. Martin's Press) and "No Snowflake in an Avalanche" (2012, Vireo).

“No matter how big the lie; repeat it often enough and the masses will regard it as the truth.”  – Winston Churchill

Last week, a coterie of proud, prejudiced, Christian fundamentalists met with officials of the Department of Defense, specifically the U.S. Air Force, at the Pentagon.

The undignified and truly ignoble goal of this meeting? The sowing of confusion within the ranks of our military leadership and the subversion of the United States Constitution.

This gang of lying zealots came to huff and puff over a “war on Christians” supposedly taking place within the U.S. military. SPOILER ALERT: absolutely NO such war exists, period!

Cheered on by the conjured voices protesting this phony “war,” this gang of fundamentalist Christian religious predators came loaded for bear with two petitions carrying a total of 220,000 signatures. The true purpose of these inveterate religious extremists was to lobby the top brass to officially give free rein to the Christian fundamentalist vultures within our United States armed forces to coercively preach and proselytize to their otherwise helpless subordinates within the American military.

Oh, and did I mention that they also want to offset the historic gains of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) by granting homophobes the full right – enshrined and protected by law – to bully and dehumanize these very same defenseless subordinates or fellow servicemembers for their gender identity and/or sexual orientation?

Section 529 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2014 will do precisely that. Oh, but don’t take my word for it. According to Bishop James Magness, Bishop Suffragan of the Federal Ministries of the Episcopal Church in Washington D.C.:

“…this proposal will in effect trounce the actual religious liberties of those who rightly should have access to freedom from an established religion in the public square. Those military members present at a military ceremony are often required by duty to be present and therefore may not have the ability to get up and leave. These military members will have to listen to the chaplains offend them — and they will have no recourse.”

The real kicker, my friends, is that this campaign of fundamentalist Christian extremism, fueled by hatred and fear, is being carried out under the flagrantly false flag of “religious liberty.”

What these fraudulent whiners are bellowing about is the loss of their prior existing fundamentalist Christian privilege in the face of withering Constitutional civil rights activism that has demanded the end of these hideous and illicit offenses within the ranks of our military. The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), the organization of which I’m Founder and President, has spearheaded this campaign, hence the sour grapes. It is precisely this that led Decision magazine, a publication of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, to decry me in their July/August 2013 cover story as not only “perhaps the nation’s most fervent anti-witnessing activist,” but no, get this: they also ran a full sidebar feature on me entitled “ONE OF THE MOST DANGEROUS MEN IN AMERICA”. This was all featured under the dramatic heading, “THE WAR ON GOD’S WORD.”

In a brazenly bizarre and transparent homage to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, the vanguard of this push to legalize fundamentalist Christian proselytizing predation and tyranny have assembled under the perverse umbrella of the “Restore Military Religious Freedom Coalition” (RMRF). Indeed, most of the so-called “offenses” against their inverted and distorted conception of “religious freedom” consist of those all-too-frequent episodes whereby we’ve managed to successfully beat back their cowardly attempts to destroy and dangerously delimit our actual liberties (not to be confused with “license to kill”-style “liberties” tailor-made for “Modern-day Torquemadas”).

Helming this delegation of so-called “Christian leaders” was Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin (ret.), Executive Vice President of the Family Research Council (FRC). Mister “No Mosques in America” Boykin exemplifies precisely the type of “religious liberty” RMRF stands for. After all, this is a quintessential and unapologetic racist, a man who’s been virtually canonized by his vast fundamentalist/dominionist constituency for his blood-soaked incitements to “holy war” against all Muslims everywhere, the likes of which haven’t been witnessed since the equally blood-drenched medieval Crusades. Dark Ages thy pathetic avatar be Boykin the Bigot.

Tailing Lt. Gen. Boykin was another renowned bigot, Col. Ron Crews (ret.), the head of Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty (CARL). Crews is an overgrown poster-child of the “homophobia industry “and a “prize Chicken Little” from among the retired chaplaincy. Following the landmark repeals of DADT and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Henny Penny Crews raised a deafening din of “the Sky is falling” squawking to the effect that there would be a vast exodus of servicemembers from the various branches as a result of the Obama administration turning the U.S. military into a “social experiment” (read: “Big Gay Boot Camp”). Of course absolutely no such “exodus” occurred, with chaplains instead giving a “common, positive verdict about repeal.”

Conservative radio host Sandy Rios also attended the meeting. Rios, a frequent Fox News contributor and member of the hate-engorged American Family Association (AFA), recently linked LGBT love to the monstrous Ariel Castro’s decade-long spree of torment afflicted upon three helpless young women in Ohio held in torturous captivity. Rios also ludicrously compared the teaching of respect for sex and gender minorities to the espousal of using crack-cocaine, and fingered gay-inclusive school curricula for a decline in student performance. When she’s not espousing her base, evil, and vile hatred of gays, she’s advocating anti-Muslim extremism of the most pernicious kind.

True heroes of “liberty” and constitutional “rights,” indeed. Recall, however, that the Southern Poverty Law Center has characterized the FRC and AFA as not only domestic hate groups, but the “chief purveyors of lies about LGBT people” that result in trauma, hate crimes, and a tragic epidemic of teen suicides. Click here to read the hideous declamations of these organizations in their own words.

Yet now these well-funded exemplars of monstrous duplicity are disingenuously posing as champions of religious pluralism, tolerance, and civil liberties? Unlimited and galling hypocrisy at best – enormous national security threat at worst.

The enemies of our (remaining) constitutional protections and civil liberties thrive on lies, misinformation, and outright disinformation to advance their anti-democratic and fundamentalist Christian, religious extremist agendas. Such has certainly been our experience here at MRFF. By salting the “information battlefield” with false innuendoes, red herrings, and blatant untruths designed to appeal to diehard and disgusting prejudices, these professional religious bigots have managed to hoodwink all-too-many Americans into believing that President Obama’s Defense Department is waging some tooth-and-nail battle against all good Christians, especially those who faithfully serve in our U.S. military.

Søren Kierkegaard once opined, “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true. The other is to refuse to believe what is true.”

Is there REALLY any persecution of Christians in the U.S. military? Such cartoonish and cretinesque fantasy couldn’t be farther from the truth.

However, the fact that some docile and supine Americans are buying into this universally false fairy tale should be of significant alarm to those of us who don’t want to see the adoption of a militarist Christian dominionist gospel as our nation’s official state religion.

If and when that day ever comes, it will be the last day of freedom for our American democratic republic.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is up against well-funded extremist religious organizations. Your donations allow us to continue our fight in the courts and in the media to fight for separation of church and state in the U.S. military. Please make a fully tax-deductible donation today at  helpbuildthewall.org.

Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein, Esq. is founder and president of the five-time Nobel Peace Prize-nominated  Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) and an honor graduate of the Air Force Academy. He served as a White House counsel in the Reagan Administration and as the Committee Management Officer of the “Iran-Contra” Investigation. He is also the former General Counsel to H. Ross Perot and Perot Systems Corporation. Mikey is an honor graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and a former J.A.G. in the U.S. Air Force. His two sons, daughter-in-law, son-in law, and brother-in-law are also graduates of USAFA. In December 2012, Mikey was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in U.S. Defense by Defense News. He is the author of  “With God On Our Side” (2006, St. Martin’s Press) and  “No Snowflake in an Avalanche” (2012, Vireo).

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.

As Weinstein notes, the opposite is true – particularly when it comes to the U.S. military. His group rep- resents nearly 35,000 active-duty service members who have been targeted by religious zealots – oft- times superior officers – demanding they embrace a specific strain of Christianity.

Ninety-six percent of the foundation’s clients are Protestant or Roman Catholic, including 21 varieties of Baptist alone. Only four percent of service members lodging complaints through Weinstein’s group are atheist, agnostic, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Shinto, Buddhist, Wiccan, Native American Spiritualist or other.

More than 800 are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

Having served 10 years in the military, Weinstein, himself agnostic says he knows how much pressure can be applied in a military setting to conform to a certain religious point of view.

He founded the Military Religious Freedom Foundation about a decade ago after his children, while Air Force Academy cadets, were browbeaten to attend Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ.

Weinstein says his group is working to rebuild the wall separating church and state that all too often has been knocked down in the U.S. military, effectively depriving many armed forces members freedom of – and from – religion.

It’s particularly worrisome, he says, that Dominionists are asserting their apocalyptic worldviews in settings where they can mix “a fanatical religiosity … with actual weapons of mass destruction.”

“It’s a tortured, poisoned view of patriotism,” says Weinstein. “It’s a metastasizing threat to this country.”

Not surprisingly, Weinstein’s support of religious freedom does not set well with the likes of Rep. Bridenstine, who in a May 2013 blog entry promoted the fact he “questioned the Department of Defense’s recent interactions with anti-Christian activist Mikey Weinstein.”

“As a Navy reservist with com- bat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Bridenstine said, “I know firsthand the importance of faith to many of our men and women in uniform.

“I am growing increasingly concerned that well-established protections of conscience and religious expression are being slowly eroded. Right now, the military is preparing guidance on religious issues. During this process, it remains critical that senior JAG leaders understand the concerns of religious service members.”

What Bridenstine and his ilk clearly fail to appreciate is how they would like it if the shoe were on the other foot. They would be irate if other religious groups were given carte blanche to proselytize or – as seems likely in a military setting – the power to make one conform or face career-ending consequences. It’s as if they can’t come to grips with the uniquely American concept that it’s OK not to believe – or to believe differently than Bridenstine and Co.

For them “to say we, Christians, are the persecuted, it is not only disingenuous, it is a goddamn lie – and they know,” Weinstein says.

“This is like the playground bully – after he’s been pulled aside by every teacher or monitor on the playground for beating little Jim- my into the ground – showing his hand and saying, ‘Look what little Jimmy’s head did to my knuckles – they’re all bruised.’”

It speaks to the strange political times in which we live that Weinstein would be so despised by the religious right.

He’s a lifelong Republican who served as a White House legal counsel under their favorite president, Ronald Reagan, and as committee management officer of the Iran-Contra investigation. He also served as first general counsel to Texas billionaire and two-time presidential candidate H. Ross Perot and Perot Systems.

Of course, Weinstein also was named one of the 50 most influential Jews in America by the Jewish weekly Forward. He was tabbed one of the 100 Most Influential People in U.S. Defense in 2012 by Gannett’s Defense News. And his organization has been nominated five times for the Nobel Peace prize.

Weinstein clearly relishes his role as a provocateur, describing his foundation as the “demanders of the commanders” – more akin to the radical animal rights group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) than the more staid and traditional Humane Society of the U.S.

“I’m very happy coming in and speaking truth to power,” he says, reminding it was 19th Century African-American leader Frederick Douglass who said, “power concedes nothing without a demand.”

Weinstein says he is more than willing to be a “tarantula” on the fundamentalists’ “wedding cake”

– but also hopes those attending the Tulsa event will actively join his group in working to restore the wall separating church and state in America’s armed forces.

“We’re not supposed to work 20 years, get our retirement and spend the rest of our time trying to lower our handicap on the golf course,” he says. “We’re supposed to be helping each other. “It’s not good enough to agree with something … We’re on this planet to do something … If your thought, heart, brain, and passion supports what we’re doing then also have your arms and legs do it.

“Make it clear” that what the Dominionists are doing to America’s military “is not OK.”

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is up against well-funded extremist religious organizations. Your donations allow us to continue our fight in the courts and in the media to fight for separation of church and state in the U.S. military. Please make a fully tax-deductible donation today at  helpbuildthewall.org.

Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein, Esq. is founder and president of the five-time Nobel Peace Prize-nominated  Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) and an honor graduate of the Air Force Academy. He served as a White House counsel in the Reagan Administration and as the Committee Management Officer of the “Iran-Contra” Investigation. He is also the former General Counsel to H. Ross Perot and Perot Systems Corporation. Mikey is an honor graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and a former J.A.G. in the U.S. Air Force. His two sons, daughter-in-law, son-in law, and brother-in-law are also graduates of USAFA. In December 2012, Mikey was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in U.S. Defense by Defense News. He is the author of  “With God On Our Side” (2006, St. Martin’s Press) and  “No Snowflake in an Avalanche” (2012, Vireo).

A trivia question (that’s not so trivial): How many U.S. military senior ranking officers and non-commissioned officers (NCOs), thrilled to unbridled giddiness with the prospect of America’s “humanitarian” attack against Syria – on a basis of “Biblical” prophecies – does it take to make a national security crisis?

Answer: Only one. But we have well over 250 of them at least. Read the below and weep.

We’ve been down this gloomy road before, my friends. The United States military is once again on the brink of bathing an already war-torn region in the baptismal waters of “regime change.” Even the most casual observer knows that this action will set in motion a vast spectrum of “known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns” (to borrow former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s euphemism for “cluster-f***”). The world sits with bated breath anticipating the cataclysmic worst.

Politics make for exceedingly strange bedfellows, and the universally-known Carl von Clausewitz pronouncement that “war is the continuation of politics by other means” remains eternally valid. Thus, we see a bizarre mixture of George W. Bush-era neocons, “hope and change” Obama liberals, Israeli right-wingers, and Christian fundamentalists united behind an incredibly ill-conceived military intervention in Syria. However, this travesty isn’t the only bizarre phenomenon that’s been witnessed along the “Road to Damascus.” There’s also the eschatological aspect, the ebullient anticipations of blood-drenched apocalypse shared by U.S. military personnel and Islamic extremists alike. More on that shortly.

Secretary of State John Kerry’s claims notwithstanding, one of the major components of the Syrian rebel forces (the “good guys” who we’re backing) is an alliance of al-Qaeda style extremists. This sundry group includes such exemplary “democrats” as Jabhat al-Nusra, Ansar al-Islam, the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant,” Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), and non-Syrian mujahideen spanning the whole of Eurasia from Britain to Chechnya and Pakistan. A veritable rogues’ gallery of enemies of America if there ever was one.

It’s long been an openly acknowledged fact that this international group of supposed “freedom fighters” isn’t fighting the tyrannical Assad “regime” alone, but every supposed “infidel” it can get its bloody hands on. These miscreants aren’t the cartoon terrorists from such films as “The Delta Force,” “True Lies,” or “Behind Enemy Lines.” The targets of their murderous predations aren’t simply American and Israeli stereotypes played by typecast actors from  “The Brady Bunch” and ”The Partridge Family.” No, their hatred encompasses just about anyone and everyone who isn’t keen on rolling the clock of human civilization back to the violent conditions of Arabia during the times of the Prophet Muhammad. Their hit-list includes the ancient Aramaic-speaking Christian communities, Shi’ite Muslims, Sufis, and even one another.

For these nefarious extremists, their guiding motivation is a crude eschatology, an “End of Days” Islamic apocalypticism. This dreadful vision foresees the Return of Jesus Christ (an important prophet in the Muslim faith and the Messiah), who will lead the “godly forces” in a battle against the “forces of evil” (the Islamic Anti-Christ, or dajjal, and Satan).” Where will this battle take place? Damascus, Syria.

Thus, it was with severe worry that the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), the civil rights and constitutional defense foundation of which I’m Founder and President, received the shocking testimonials of over 250 armed servicemember clients regarding the obsessed anticipation of apocalypse emanating from their superiors among the ranks of officers both commissioned and non-commissioned, spanning all four service branches. The Book of Revelation is their blueprint for “success” and they are all too happy to trumpet this “Good News” to their helpless armed forces subordinates. You see, they interpret almost ANYthing that will further inflame the Middle East, and its nexus to bloodshed in Israel, as a divinely prophesied accelerant or lubricant to hasten the End of Days apocalypse wrought by their avenging warrior “flavor” of Jesus Christ. The proposed attack on Syria has these U.S. military superiors licking their chops in delicious delight as an absolutely necessary and foretold event to herald the advent of the Armageddon they pray for endlessly.

To be sure, our very own American Jihadists, the fundamentalist evangelical Christian Dominionists, are just as steeped in the horrendous expectation of “rapture” as our ostensible Islamist foes. How about a good example? Permit me to present to you one Rod Parsley, leader of the enormous World Harvest Church in Columbus, Ohio, and one of the most influential leaders of the fundamentalist dominionist Christian movement in the USA. Parsley’s fire-and-brimstone tinged sermons regularly include promises of a 200-mile long river, four and a half feet deep, filled with nothing but the blood and gruesome remains of those slaughtered by his weaponized version of the Lord Jesus Christ at the Battle of Armageddon. After describing this unimaginable river of endless blood and death, Parsley delivers his rapturous denouement by raising his hands to the ceiling and exhorting his massive thousands of eager-beaver congregants to “Rejoice! Rejoice, for the worst is yet to come!”

According to this past couple of weeks’ batch of new MRFF clients, “Rejoice, rejoice!” is precisely the sentiment of their military superiors, the highest ranking of whom is a 1-star Brigadier General, senior commander. These avid anticipators of “Rapture” are anxiously awaiting the battle of their lives, the battle to end all battles. In their sick minds the fighter jets and bombers of the United States Air Force and the vessels of the United States Navy are simply Jesus’ means for raining fire and brimstone down from heaven.

Yet another Rod Parsley quote, delivered on the National Mall in Washington is most apropos: “Shout overthrow . . . we’ve come to overthrow the forces of darkness.  To overthrow the Bible-deniers, the God-haters, and those that desire to get us out of the public square …  We’re a force to be reckoned with!”

Indeed, in the warped minds of the hordes of Dominionist Christians in the United States military, up is now down, black is now white and rainy day is now sunny day.

Besides their crisp uniforms, regalia, and clean-cut appearances, how are these seditious Dominionist officers, NCOs, and top brass in our armed forces any different from the psychotic Muslim extremists who spread unspeakable death and destruction among civilian centers in their own cities, towns, and villages? Both are united behind the unholy maxim: “Kill them all, God recognizes his own.”

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is often completely unjustly accused of being anti-Christian. Paradoxically, many of these accusers now advocate a major American role in support of those who are waging an actual brick-and-mortar, blood-and-sinew genocidal onslaught on the Christians of the Middle East. The supreme irony of this development would be laughable if the real-world implications weren’t so nauseatingly ominous and saturated with the immeasurable gore of shed innocent blood.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is up against well-funded extremist religious organizations. Your donations allow us to continue our fight in the courts and in the media to fight for separation of church and state in the U.S. military. Please make a fully tax-deductible donation today at  helpbuildthewall.org.

Michael L. "Mikey" Weinstein, Esq. is founder and president of the five-time Nobel Peace Prize-nominated  Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) and an honor graduate of the Air Force Academy. He served as a White House counsel in the Reagan Administration and as the Committee Management Officer of the "Iran-Contra" Investigation. He is also the former General Counsel to H. Ross Perot and Perot Systems Corporation. Mikey is an honor graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and a former J.A.G. in the U.S. Air Force. His two sons, daughter-in-law, son-in law, and brother-in-law are also graduates of USAFA. In December 2012, Mikey was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in U.S. Defense by Defense News. He is the author of  "With God On Our Side" (2006, St. Martin's Press) and  "No Snowflake in an Avalanche" (2012, Vireo).

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” Mahatma Gandhi

Ready for a good news story? As this letter of gratitude from the Office of the Superintendent shows, an incredibly improbable meeting between formerly bitter enemies was held 3 days ago on the banks of the Hudson River at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. How do I know? Because I was one of those formerly bitter enemies, and I was there.

But first, a little backstory to this miracle meeting.

Let it never be said that there’s such a thing as a “lost cause.” Likewise, let us be on guard at all times against those who seek to reduce the world to hurtful stereotypes alone. As the founder and president of the 5-time, Nobel Peace Prize-nominated civil rights advocacy organization, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), I’m often on the receiving end of such vile mischaracterizations, ranging from the silly (“Field General of the Godless Armies of Satan”) and the vile (“Jewish lawyer Whine-stein”) to the, well, unprintable. We at MRFF would certainly be doing no good service to anyone if we slipped into such erroneous means of judging the broad range of honorable people who comprise our armed forces. However, we never hesitate from calling it exactly as we see it, as is certainly the case when we denounce the vile monsters who comprise the militant evangelical, fundamentalist Christian, Dominionist bigots both in and out of military uniform. These religious extremist predators are rabidly foaming at their mouths to reduce our cherished Constitutional protections to rack and ruin.

Likewise, we don’t shirk our responsibility to offer justifiable commendations to those who deserve it. Such merit is rare making it all the more critical to recognize it.

Case in point: U.S. Army Lieutenant General Robert L. Caslen, Jr., the brand new Superintendent/Commanding General of the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point.

Lt. Gen. Caslen takes two things very seriously: his commission as a flag (General) officer within the U.S. Army, and his religion as a devout evangelical Christian. This choice is his to make. Caslen, like the rest of us, is Constitutionally allowed to practice his faith however he sees fit, provided that he doesn’t step beyond the bright boundaries of the laws of the land in America. However, when you don the uniform of a United States servicemember, the only faith you should proselytize is that of American patriotism and unyielding fealty towards the Constitutional values contained therein. Your paramount duty is to support and defend that Constitution and adhere to all of the Department of Defense’s directives, instructions, and regulations. One may practice their faith, or practice absolutely no faith at all, however they choose to do so, without compromising their religious principles, provided they practice in the proper time, place, and manner.

So, to make MRFF’s stance exceedingly clear, the Christian faith and the Christian faithful are no issue for us, none whatsoever, regardless of what the “American Taliban” and its legion of gutter publications and conspiratorial, rumor-packed telecasts, radio programs and scurrilous blogs claim. Our MRFF client base of over 34,000 servicemembers, DoD civilian personnel, and armed services veterans is 96% Christian (both Roman Catholic and Protestant) in composition. We by no means seek to witch-hunt every Christian in the armed forces (as our defaming detractors incessantly suggest) – to attempt to do so would be unspeakably reprehensible, not to mention foolish beyond words. However, whenever proselytizing occurs in uniform, in the military workplace (which could be a tank, Humvee, foxhole, or cockpit), during the duty day (which for many servicemembers can be a 24/7 ordeal), and/or from superior to subordinate, you’d better damn well expect MRFF to come out swinging for those oppressed.

Caslen got a taste of MRFF’s passion in 2006, when he appeared to place his oath of commission beneath his personal prerogative to spread his beloved Christian faith through the means at his disposal, which in this case was his rank as a commanding officer with the rank of Brigadier General. Caslen, in his U.S. Army uniform, prominently appeared in a video on behalf of a surpassingly sectarian Christian proselytizing entity known as Christian Embassy. On camera in this video promo for the Christian Embassy, he referred to himself and his fellow Pentagon Generals as comprising the “aroma of Jesus Christ” (go to minute 4 of this video to view Caslen’s bizarre performance). It is important to make clear that Christian Embassy is a militant evangelizing outfit that tasks itself with providing “safe places and practical resources to help… leaders working in D.C…. to integrate their faith and their work.” The actual Christian Embassy video itself boldly made the following shocking claim:

“There are over 25,000 Department of Defense leaders working in the rings and corridors of the Pentagon. Through Bible studies, discipleship, prayer breakfasts, and outreach events, Christian Embassy is mustering these men and women into an intentional relationship with Jesus Christ.”

Need I say more? MRFF lost no time in exposing and denouncing this blatant sedition at a much publicized press conference at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. in early December of 2006. Our Constitutional advocacy compelled the then DoD Secretary, Robert Gates, to order the United States Department of Defense Inspector General (DoD/IG) to aggressively investigate and release a report that blasted the rank misconduct on the part of the multiple, high-ranking Pentagon officials featured in the video. The DoD/IG report also concluded that then-Brigadier General Robert Caslen, as well as his fellows, “improperly endorsed and participated with a non-Federal entity while in uniform.” For many Americans, the “Christian Embassy” video was their first introduction to MRFF, not to mention our raison d’être: the protection and re-establishment of the Constitutionally mandated wall separating church and state within the United States military.

At the time, Caslen’s unfortunate participation in the video cast him as a deservedly wretched Constitutional scofflaw in our eyes. Here was a man who committed a grave offense not just against his fellow soldiers, but also violated of his solemn oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and resultantly, all citizens of our nation. But did he mean well? It didn’t matter. Our mantra remains, “Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.” If a surgeon responsible for a mastectomy removes the left breast of a cancer patient when the right breast should have been removed, the damage is done. In such cases, ignorance is anything but an adequate excuse.

Caslen, however, has remarkably proven himself to be a very special soldier of an entirely different breed. Imagine the beautiful and awesome sense of irony I felt as I sat with him in his well-appointed office, along with his key senior staffers, just 72 hours ago at West Point as his invited guest. I was honored to be accompanied by my trusted friend, USAF Academy Class of 1977 classmate and longtime, loyal MRFF ally, recently retired United States Air Force Lt. Gen. William T. Lord. We were there to discuss serious religious respect problems and a myriad of related Constitutional religious issues at West Point where MRFF currently has 177 clients amongst the Academy’s cadets, faculty and staff (137 of them practicing Christians, I might add). Eye-to-eye and heart-to-heart, MRFF’s one-time enemy #1 (and former President of one of MRFF’s most profound enemy organizations, the uber-fundamentalist Officers Christian Fellowship) proved to be just as pious as I expected. But not only in terms of his religiosity but also in terms of his learned and professional loyalty to his mission in the U.S. military. Our one hour and forty-five minute meeting was both fruitful and significantly encouraging.

Here is truly an extraordinary specimen among the top brass, a commanding general officer of true dignity and worth who talks the talk and walks the walk with honesty, confidence, and diligence. Every single one of the many MRFF clients and supporters who have worked closely with Lt. Gen. Caslen in the “post-Christian Embassy” period have testified personally to me of Caslen’s impeccable moral fiber. Caslen’s profound appreciation of diversity and plurality and his intense suspicion of the lunacies of religious supremacy were doubtlessly tempered by the sweltering heat of his dangerous deployment to an Iraq torn by searing sectarian, ethnic, and tribal strife. It was there that Caslen played THE strategic role mediating the blood-hatred borne from centuries of vicious fighting between the Kurdish people, Sunni Arabs, and the Shiite-majority led central government in Baghdad. His totally unforeseen transformation from a militant, dogmatic evangelical Christian fundamentalist into an exemplary illustration of professionalism tempered by Constitutional compliance was surely an organic and painful process, one borne of excruciating, gut-wrenching introspection, self-examination, and auto-criticism.

To be clear, Caslen has NOT had to compromise his Christian faith in ANY way whatsoever to accomplish this magnificent metamorphosis.

To be sure, the United States Military Academy at West Point, one of the foremost and illustriously storied institutions in the entire world for the doctrinal instruction and professional development of officers in the profession of arms, requires such leadership. Only such sterling leadership is capable of resolving the astounding offenses against religious liberty and pluralism which allowed for the red carpet to be rolled out to case-hardened, inveterate bigots such as retired Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin, the current executive Vice President of the SPLC-designated anti-gay hate group, the Family Research Council (FRC). While the vigilance of MRFF and our valued allies from the Constitutional and interfaith communities squelched the opportunity extended to this vile Islamophobe to speak at West Point’s National Prayer Breakfast, such a public outcry should not have been necessary in the first place. Egregious offenses to the U.S. Constitution in our nation’s armed forces should not be taking place in any way, shape, or form whatsoever, least of all at USMA.

When former bitter enemies can unite on a solid base of non-partisan, patriotic interest and loyalty to the democratic values embodied by our nation’s founding document, the Christian theocrats and extremists have profound reason to shudder in trepidation. Likewise, advocates and supporters of the continued separation of church and state within the armed forces should have a firm reason for optimism. Simply put, the separation of church and state neither portends nor champions the elimination of either. Indeed, quite the contrary. As our founding fathers made crystal clear, both church and state flourish most optimally when rationally and reasonably separated from each other within common sense constraints as outlined by Constitutional bounds.

MRFF intends to remain vigilant – we don’t make the mistake of “burying hatchets” (historically, this has proven to be a poor strategic choice) – but in Caslen’s case, we’re placing our hatchets in our holsters and effusively outstretching our arms for a firm handshake and following embrace with Lt. Gen. Caslen. The time has come for hand-in-hand collaboration, when people of good worth, dignity and good faith can unite in defense of our nation’s welfare and the protection of our national security interests.

Lt. General Bob Caslen is such a person of this rarified valor. If we all work hard enough at it, we all can be.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is up against well-funded extremist religious organizations. Your donations allow us to continue our fight in the courts and in the media to fight for separation of church and state in the U.S. military. Please make a fully tax-deductible donation today at  helpbuildthewall.org.

Michael L. "Mikey" Weinstein, Esq. is founder and president of the five-time Nobel Peace Prize-nominated  Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) and an honor graduate of the Air Force Academy. He served as a White House counsel in the Reagan Administration and as the Committee Management Officer of the "Iran-Contra" Investigation. He is also the former General Counsel to H. Ross Perot and Perot Systems Corporation. Mikey is an honor graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and a former J.A.G. in the U.S. Air Force. His two sons, daughter-in-law, son-in law, and brother-in-law are also graduates of USAFA. In December 2012, Mikey was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in U.S. Defense by Defense News. He is the author of  "With God On Our Side" (2006, St. Martin's Press) and  "No Snowflake in an Avalanche" (2012, Vireo).