Monday, May 17, 2010

The Best and The Brightest: Another Adventure with Mikey Weinstein

[Update: writing this blog post drew the ire of senior officers on the Air University faculty, who were fully postured punish me under the military's disciplinary system. You can read all about these events in my follow up to this post, "Under the Guise of Academic Freedom"]

The first time I saw Mikey Weinstein speak to a military crowd I left feeling very hopeful. Several months ago, Lt General Peck of Air University invited Weinstein to speak to the combined faculty of Air War College, Air Command and Staff College, and Squadron Officer’s College at Maxwell AFB, Alabama. In this small and intimate setting I witnessed officers listening intently, and afterwards asking pointed but respectful questions. There were a few tense moments, that bristled with the possibility of argument, but the students and the speaker exercised restraint over their emotions and remained cordial—as anyone who is experienced in debate knows, this restraint is essential if a group of people is going to hash through the issues and learn from each other’s perspectives. When I went to see Weinstein speak today to Air University’s current Air Command and Staff College students, I quickly figured out that we were not about to have a repeat of that initial pleasant experience.

My first sign should have been when I walked into the large auditorium, and found myself a seat near the back— trying to remain as inconspicuous as possible in a room full of senior officers. A Major with a Howdy Doody-esque comb-over plopped down in front of me, and proceeded to clumsily attempt to flirt with the female Major sitting next to him. He leaned in and remarked nonchalantly,
“Well, I had to miss Mikey Weinstein the first time because I had a dentist appointment. Now I guess I’m here because I couldn’t come up with another excuse. Wish I could go to the dentist again, I’d rather be in that chair than listen to him speak.”
I wasn’t amused, and the female Major he was trying to impress offered only a conciliatory chuckle—clearly she had become used to placating Air Force men during her career. The part of this that struck me was not the hapless efforts of Major Don Juan, but how loudly and confidently he made this sad little joke. He took it for granted that all the people sitting around would be on board with him, as if we were all a part of some good ol’ boys club that “knows better than to take this whole Constitution thing too seriously.” His classmates sitting beside him said nothing.

The thousand person auditorium quickly filled to capacity, as officers in their blues rushed in minutes before presentation time.

General Rock strolled on to the large stage and stood at the small podium perched in the center.
"I'd like to introduce our next speaker. Mikey Weinstein is someone that may make us uncomfortable, and someone we may not like, but this is part of what we do here at Air University-- we talk to people we disagree with, and our next speaker certainly falls into that category."
I could feel the negative energy setting in as he vacated the stage.

Mikey Weinstein walked out and introduced himself graciously, offering his thanks to ACSC, and going so far as to say he was honored to be speaking to a roomful of some of “the best and the brightest” the Air Force had to offer. I sat in quiet amusement, wondering if perhaps he’d been a little too generous in his assessment. I would soon find out what an incredible over-statement these initial compliments would turn out to be.

The initial speech went well enough. Weinstein explained the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, their mission, and their struggle against attempts to spread fundamentalist Christianity through the armed forces. Weinstein noted that the MRFF has had over 18,000 clients, and 96% of them are Christians (just not Christian enough). He explained that he views the attempts to intertwine religion into the military fabric of the most powerful nation in the world, vis-à-vis the National Day of Prayer Task Force, Officers Christian Fellowship, and groups like them, as a “national security threat from within.” He went on to explain that the military is ill-equipped to deal with this phenomenon, as the resident IG system in the military has failed to recognize this as a problem, while his foundation has been flooded with pleas for help since its inception. “Clearly” he said,”there’s a disconnect.”

The first few questions were run-of-the-mill, genuine inquiries from officers who wanted to know more about the foundation, or who had questions regarding the age-old Christmas Party vs Holiday Party conundrum. (The answer, by the way, is that if it’s a unit function just call it a winter holiday party, and make it an inclusive environment for all your troops like any good commander would.)On the whole, the event was shaping up to be a nice, educational, incident free discussion, where everyone could leave a little smarter on the issue of religion in the military than when they came in, even if perfect agreement hadn’t been reached.

With the next student however, my hopes were dashed, and the entire episode took a turn into the Twilight Zone. A Major positioned at the front of the auditorium bolted up from his chair and in a trembling voice declared that he “couldn’t be as glib as [Weinstein]” so he “may not be able to make [his] case as well”. I’m not sure this was proper use of the word “glib”, but it was insulting nonetheless. He went on to issue emotional claims that he was the “evangelical enemy” Mikey was fighting, and proceeded to say he didn’t see a problem “sharing his faith” with his subordinates. Weinstein carefully explained that when a commander “offers” anything, it never feels optional. Any military member should understand the special relationship between a commander and his troops—I never deemed it appropriate to “offer to share” my views on atheism with any of my subordinates.

The next few students offered their views in a similar vein, and I can’t pinpoint exactly when the transformation took place, but a room full of military professionals quickly devolved into an unruly mob. Having spent four years at the Air Force Academy before graduating, and five years on active duty, I don’t have any illusions about the open-mindedness of military officers. But I was shocked at how hostile the level of discourse became.

One tall, fresh-faced Major opened his commentary to Weinstein by charging, “you’re just paranoid!”He then went on to offer his sophomoric observation that, “pushing religion in the military doesn’t seem any different to me than pushing one football team over another.” The back of the auditorium broke into applause. I was absolutely dumbfounded. Weinstein reminded him that the US Constitution all military members swear to defend says nothing about “the separation of football and state.” But the simple logic of these statements couldn’t seem to pierce through the fog of philistinism that was taking hold in the crowd.

It seemed as if half the auditorium had become a mob of hollering and jeering morons, who would scream and clap in unison whenever any person would make any argument against Weinstein, no matter how ill-informed, no matter how intellectually devoid. Many had decided that instead of standing up to ask a question, they would simply sit in the back, cowardly yelling taunts from their safe little corner of the room. I would expect this at a Tea Party rally, not at the Air Force’s prestigious Air Command and Staff College.

The Major’s sage advice on football and church was only one of many such incidents, and I’d be doing a disservice to my readers if I didn’t highlight some of the gems of intellectual insight that earned the approbation of the assembled ACSC students.

One student, a self-proclaimed historian, pointed out that George Washington advised his troops to find solace in God. Weinstein recognized this argument before the student had even finished, and responded by reminding him that George Washington and many of the founding fathers owned slaves, and participated in other questionable practices, and that emulating them perfectly would be ill-advised. He reminded the students that whatever George Washington thought of God, the Constitution he helped bring into being is very clear on the separation of church and state. This statement from Weinstein earned no applause.

A foreign exchange officer who flies helicopters stated that he isn't a Christian, and that while he agrees with most of what the MRFF does, he flies his helicopter with a doll of Santa Clause that was given to him, so he didn’t see what the big deal was about. If he agreed with “most of what the MRFF does”, I wondered, what was his point? Weinstein simply moved to the next question.

Another exchange officer, who proudly proclaimed his Christianity, said he didn’t see why Weinstein was trying to take God out of the military. This earned rounds of applause. Weinstein responded by telling him “the constitution of our country dictates a separation of church and state in all aspects of government, which includes the military”.

Another Air Force Major spoke up, this one with a crew cut and a belly that I doubt was within Air Force standards. He said that he thought Weinstein was too abrasive, and that he hadn’t seen any problems with religion in the military. Cue the applause and hollering. Weinstein politely ignored the clamor, and reminded the student that a lot of things happen that he may not see, and most people who are in the majority don’t notice these things. As he put it, “the fish in the aquarium don’t see the water.” As a member of both majority and minority groups I can attest to this phenomenon, and would add that if all commanders’ calls ended with a prayer to Satan, that these people might not be so comfortable if they were told to “just deal with it” as non-Christians are told today.

A different officer took issue with Weinstein’s support of Sikhs seeking to wear their religious head dress. He accused the MRFF of targeting Christians, while helping religious minorities. More applause. Weinstein calmly responded with a story of a Christian soldier who was being attacked for her faith, to the point that pages of her Bible had been used as toilet paper—Weinstein’s organization fought for her case to success. Silence filled the room.

The most overt show of disrespect came from an officer who, in the middle of his exchange, said "we've had to suffer through you". Weinstein, never one to duck a fight, asked for this Major's seminar number so they could continue their debate after the formal session. The Major responded, "I'd rather not."

The rest of the exchanges in Weinstein’s Q and A session were of a similar nature, with the atmosphere of defensiveness and ignorance having firmly taken hold. Most of the comments came from stubborn officers who said they didn’t see any problems, and that Weinstein was making a big deal over nothing. This, even after he told them that 18,000 soldiers had come to him in desperation, after they were neglected by the military’s systems of justice.

The display I witnessed from the current class at ACSC had left me disoriented and angry. I walked out of the auditorium feeling outraged, yet powerless to level any real criticisms at officers who outranked me. I had felt the need to speak up while the mob of bullies attempted to turn Weinstein into a punching bag, but was too afraid of making myself a target in a military system. When I spoke to Mikey Weinstein on the phone I apologized for my cowardice, and he responded in his usual humble manner by assuring me that there’s nothing I could have done in a room full of superior officers. He also gave my ailing spirit a slight boost when he said that as he talked up front he saw a lot of heads nodding in agreement—folks who agreed with MRFF’s mission, but didn’t feel comfortable speaking up. This was confirmed later in the day when Weinstein received phone calls from eight ACSC students, and an email from another, apologizing for the rudeness of their classmates, and saying that they wished they had spoken up but felt pressure not to be singled out among their peers. (By the way, Mikey Weinstein got these calls by engaging in a task reserved solely for those with brass balls: he read his cell number aloud to an entire audience of people who had been attacking and mocking him.)

This here, is the danger of letting fundamentalist religion creep into a culture that’s as coercive, conformist, and authoritarian as the military. Even other Air Force Majors, peers to the obnoxious crowd members, felt as if they couldn’t speak out against them. As a younger officer who was outranked by all of them I felt this pressure ten-fold. How would a young enlisted troop have felt?

When I consider this issue, I often count myself lucky that I’m simply an atheist, and therefore the dominant culture in the military tends to regard me with merely suspicion and, in my worst experiences, mild disdain. I can only imagine how difficult it must be for a Muslim in the military. In the past, anti-Muslim bigotry in the military was another one of those “problems I didn’t see”. Then I got involved in a relationship with a Muslim woman (who was, by the way the most open-minded and tolerant of the girlfriends I’ve had) and then I started to notice the snide comments, jokes, and all-around ignorance within the military culture in regards to Islam. Since then I’ve charged headfirst into more than one savage argument in defense of Islam—such irony for an atheist!

If we were to wonder what life for a Muslim soldier might be like, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation’s latest client should give us an idea. While the ACSC students broke into their seminars following the dustup with Weinstein, the fight went on for the MRFF. Weinstein headed immediately to do an interview that appeared this evening on CNN’s Campbell Brown, for his latest client, a Muslim soldier in the Army. Zachari Klawonn, a 20 year old Army Spec. at Fort Hood has come to Weinstein after the Army failed to address repeated complaints of harassment he’d been receiving from fellow soldiers. Klawonn was moved out of his barracks and off base for his safety, but was neglected the standard housing allowance the Army issues to all soldiers. He has been forced instead to resort to drastic measures, taking out two personal loans, pawning his possessions and borrowing money from the MRFF to make ends meet. As is all too typical in cases like these, Klawonn’s requests for his housing allowance didn’t receive any attention until his chain of command was contacted by reporters. Since then he has been told he will receive his stipend starting in June. Klawonn’s long history of discrimination and neglect within the Army is a real embarrassment to the service, and is unfortunately too lengthy to repeat here. Please take the time to read it at the Washington Post.

Cases like this are exactly why we need the MRFF. Young religious minorities like Klawonn are regularly treated with scorn within the military system, and then neglected or scoffed at by their superior officers— officers just like "the best and the brightest" I encountered this morning at the Air Command and Staff College. Officers who, when they were told by a knowledgeable speaker that fundamentalist Christianity is contributing to a hostile religious environment within their ranks, responded by shedding all vestiges of professionalism, hurling insults, and generally engaging in behavior that was a downright embarrassment to the Air Force. Of course they don’t see the problem. They are the problem.

Speaking with Mikey later in the day I commented that given some of the phone calls and emails he’d received, that there were probably a lot of “quiet allies” in the auditorium, and that the conversation had just been hijacked by the most combative element.

“Yeah” he agreed, “But the problem here is that these students are future commanders. MRFF is a voice for the voiceless, but these people are the command structure. They have a voice. We need them to not be shy about defending their Constitution. As Martin Luther King said, when things get critical ‘a time comes when silence is betrayal’”

16 comments:

  1. Chris, thank you for this EXCELLENT recap of this event. It's sad to see how willfully ignorant the 50% that doesn't get it really is.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow! Such behavior among these officers. Is this an example of our leadership in the US Air Force?

    I was enlisted USMC/USN, Vietnam 1967-68. I can't remember ever seeing such behavior in our officer rank back then???

    Thanks for the great review Chris. I'm not sure it's so good for my moral except for Mikey's courage and leadership straight into the battle.

    ReplyDelete
  3. General Rock strolled on to the large stage and stood at the small podium perched in the center.
    "I'd like to introduce our next speaker. Mikey Weinstein is someone that may make us uncomfortable, and someone we may not like, but this is part of what we do here at Air University-- we talk to people we disagree with, and our next speaker is certainly falls into that category."
    General Rock set the tone and should be fired!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Chris ... as a friend and supporter of Mikey's [except at NAVY-chair force game time], I wonder if there was any comment -formal or informal- from the brass at ACSC either to Mikey and/or to the "students" and, if not, why not ?

    ReplyDelete
  5. USNA-- that's a great question, and I don't know off the top of my head. I'm going to do a follow-up on this story and I will make sure to address that

    ReplyDelete
  6. Having attended this meeting also, Chris, quite the sensational and propaganda piece. Nice use of the similar inflammatory nature Mikey used, but interesting that none of Mikey's language was noted here. As one that agrees with Mikey's message about the misuse of power as inappropriate and criminal, no matter the subject, Mr. Weinstein's presentation, especially after reading this post, reeks of some sort of purposeful, inflammatory, self serving effort. No mention of the applause, thanks, and gift presented to Mr. Weinstein at the end of his time speaking with the ACSC class. I’m disappointed that someone who was invited to attend an educational effort aimed to educate and produce consideration of tough social subjects took that experience to then denigrate using out of context and manipulated contexts to further what now seems to me as just another extremist. 18000 clients out of what base population? When asked, multiple times, Mr. Weinstein did not answer, to the extent of saying he did not have time to build a case for us, that is what the court room was for. If an alarm needs to be raised, shouldn’t there at least be smoke? Presenting a number… is that smoke? Not if, as Mr. Weinstein led me to believe that his client base is not just the active duty military, but also veterans. Just take the 1 million plus uniform wearing members of DoD… How does 18000 into 1 million make this a critical national security threat? How does the misuse of power in regards to gender, race, or age differ in relation to religion? Mr. Weinstein didn’t answer these questions. Again, I agree with this anti-discriminatory presented platform, however, his presentation lead to my personal opinion that Mr. Weinstein is a good lawyer with a niche that he is passionate about. I also agree that a separation of church and state are not only an American strength, but something that needs to be protected. However, I do not agree that, to the extent Mr. Weinstein argues, not just at ACSC, but in many of his other interviews posted online, that religion should be removed from any government function, especially the military. Just as military leaders had to learn to deal with gender and racial concerns within their units, and likely will have to deal with sexual orientation concerns within their units to greater extents in the future, military leaders must understand and address religious and spiritual needs of those assigned to them, regardless of individual beliefs. This does not remove religion from the military, as Mr. Weinstein suggests is constitutionally mandated. Religion and the state are not separated. Nor have they ever been separated in the history of the United States, or many other countries around the world. Religion provides many people the base education and motivation in regard to right and wrong, morality and an ability, at times a motivation, to continue. Religion and the commonalities between religions often provide, and in the military critical, strands that allow individuals and groups to connect and bond leading to other social dynamics of effectiveness, support, and encouragement, to name a few. The picture that was painted of Mr. Weinstein’s presentation to the ACSC class, was at best, disappointing in its presentation of the truth – which is even lacking in the factual environmental details. And Chris, even if you really exist, good luck with leadership.

    ReplyDelete
  7. May 20, 2010 1:24 PM
    @Blogger Perception management and presentation "... 18000 clients out of what base population? ..." One is too many ! Somehow, I get the distinct feeling that your agreement with, support -and understanding- of Mikey's "message" is as superficial -if not completely non-existant- as your intellect, at least as expressed.If you don't truly believe that the over-reaching extremist evangelical movement, not only in the military, but throughout the country in virtually every aspect [e.g., C St and "the Family" in politics, the texass school board & teachers who espouse Presidential assassination in geometry classes in Alabama in education, the ayatollah pat robertson of the "amerikan taliban" with his imams f. graham, james dobson, geo. rekers ... ROTFLMAO, falwell, et al, in "religion", and -almost as importantly as the military- in geo. dubyous shrub's & "dick [in every sense of the word] cheney's private mercenary "crusaders" of prince eric's blackwater/xi in wannabe law enforcement, oh, and sight mfgrs in private industry] constitutes a national security threat ... well, then you're a bigger fool than your post indicates [hard to believe] ! Most disturbing ... that you would even be allowed to take the oath to protect and defend the Constitution, since you obviously have absoF******lutely no concept of what it means, let alone be considered for or admitted to ACSC !

    ReplyDelete
  8. Perception-- I can assure I exist, whatever that means. I'm not going to waste space dealing with every bizarre assertion you've made, but I do think there is one important area of disagreement we can settle easily, with your cooperation.
    You dispute my account of what happened in the auditorium "sensationalist". I'm aware that this presentation was taped. If you would please send me the video I would be happy to post it on this site and let the people decide for themselves.

    ReplyDelete
  9. You said:
    "I'm aware that this presentation was taped. If you would please send me the video I would be happy to post it on this site and let the people decide for themselves."

    You should know the only audiovisual devices allowed in that auditorium are official ones. You should also know military policies generally prohibit what you're asking, so your "challenge" isn't even possible. If it is, why don’t you provide the video to prove your case, rather than the other way around?

    While you're at it, you can also provide proof that the content of this post doesn't violate Air University policies, as it certainly appears to do.

    If you can't figure out why, you can read the explanation at this site.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Chris, it was my privilege to interview Mr. Weinstein for a feature article on Subversify Magazine, along with a companion piece on Subversify Radio.

    JD's statements, above, were typical of the 'other side's' commentary on my piece. The site referenced by JD (christianfighterpilot.com) is almost-exclusively dedicated to debunking Mr. Weinstein and his Foundation - pretty solid proof to me that Mikey has connected the dots pretty well and is hitting a raw nerve with the Fundies in the Air Force, early and often.

    As he pointed out to me, what he's doing is blood-sport. He's routinely threatened with death by these 'followers of Christ'.

    The earlier comment here, which cavalierly states that "...Religion and the state are not separated. Nor have they ever been separated in the history of the United States, or many other countries around the world. Religion provides many people the base education and motivation in regard to right and wrong, morality and an ability, at times a motivation, to continue.", is the time-worn and hackneyed apologetic offered by every theocrat and theocratic dictator in the world.

    Kudos to you for this post, and kudos to Mr. Weinstein for his efforts!

    http://www.subversify.com

    ReplyDelete
  11. Standing Up
    Having listened to Mikey Wienstein’s presentations (including this one at ACSC) and read his news releases, I will briefly add my thoughts. I do so with some hesitation as bloggers like USNA Ancient are not really interested in honest dialogue but use extremism and distortion hoping to be heard. In the end, these kind of tactics create only noise that makes it difficult to discern the real issues.
    It is obvious that Chris had his own agenda which colored his perception. Even though Chris, the original blogger, broke Air University’s academic “non-attribution” rules when he posted his own biased perspective of the event, this blog gives an opportunity to respond in a general fashion. I will not respond specifically to the ACSC event (in order to observe the academic non-attribution rules).
    I have read MRFF’s website and his news releases. Mikey Weinstein has no problem using extremism, exaggeration, and broad categorizations to make his points. He has no problem going on the attack but quickly becomes defensive when someone challenges his perceptions or ideas.
    Weinstein said numerous times what was written in his Nobel Peace Prize nomination letter, “The brutal yoke of religious oppression wrought from the draconian spectre of U.S. military command influence is extremely painful. Normal and traditional internal military personnel recourse has been so terribly corrupt by this same religious extremism scourge that MRFF stands completely alone as the only entity to whom the thousands of victimized servicemen and servicewomen can effectively turn for help. MRFF works tirelessly in the courts and in the media to expose this extremely dangerous mixture of American military fanatical religious proselytizing with U.S. weapons of mass destruction.” Mikey Weinstein indicates he is fighting a national security threat. He accuses Fundamental Christians are gaining unfettered access to weapons of mass destruction to take over the world. Mikey has no problem stating military members are under rigorous and unusually severe attacks of terror of religious oppression by fanatically religious, proselytizing power-wielding-fundamentalist military commanders. Really? Give me a break. The sky didn’t fall even though chicken little stated it over and over. Neither will fundamentalist take over the military with their “unfettered access to weapons of mass destruction.” Last I checked, those weapons are tightly controlled and the President controls the decision to employ and to use.

    ReplyDelete
  12. standing Up (part 2)
    When people raise George Washington’s support for religious expression as a military commander or president, Weinstein is quick to dismiss George Washington as someone who should be ignored since he owned slaves. Why? He knows Washington, who was the Continental Army Commander, the Constitutional Convention President, and the First President had much more to say about the role of religion and civil government than Jefferson ever did. George Washington saw religion as being indispensible for the army and for the nation. Weinstein also knows that the “separation of church and state” phrase was not used in a constitutional informative way by the Supreme Court until almost 150 years later. Jefferson used it as a policy statement for his own administration when he wrote it to the Danbury Baptists. While the Supreme Court has used it numerous times since 1947, if one does an honest assessment of the historical meaning from primary sources of the guarantees of the First Amendment, then the current meaning of the “separation of church and state” is an abused statement that misses the historical perspective. The First Amendment says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” What about the meaning of the other constitutional guarantee about the state not “prohibiting the free exercise thereof”? We sure don’t hear much about this complimentary guarantee.
    The sad point in all of this is Weinstein’s concerns do have some merit. However, his exaggerations and aggressive methods make it very hard to take him seriously. One described his efforts as marking the target with napalm. It is my understanding that to date, he has lost all of his numerous court challenges.
    I have watched his numbers grow. Supposedly, it is now at 18,000. That is an interesting number. How does he get it? Is it those who sign up for his newsletter? If so, then it is equally interesting he is able to decipher out that 96% is Protestant. How does he get that information? I challenge that information as I signed up for his newsletter from his website simply as a way of staying in tune with what he is saying. I never listed what religious background I am. Additionally, I can assure you I don’t agree with 95% of what he is saying. He is quick to attack fundamental Christians using language that is both inflammatory and dismissive. Such attacks do not solicit an honest discussion but creates a response like the one he got at ACSC.

    ReplyDelete
  13. good god, standing up, did you really post an entire essay that doesn't relate directly to the event this blog post describes? Specifically referring to the event at ACSC is actually not a violation of this 'academic freedom' rule, though I could really care less-- I never signed any paperwork restricting my right to free speech, so I couldnt possibly have violated this flimsy stricture. And Mikey Weinstein can certainly say whatever the hell he wants to about it. The point of your long long post seems to be this-- you are just another person that refuses to think there might be problem, and you certainly don't seem interested in doing any genuine inquiry on the matter. You have already made up your mind before you see any evidence. I do like your attitude on "freedom of religion" within the military. I will take your logic and run with it-- when I was an officer I suppose I could have handed my subordinates pamphlets detailing the evils of Christianity, and "offered to share" my views with them on socialism. Do you think the military is a democracy? I'd like to see how your unit is run.
    In any case, I will say to you the same thing I said to another commenter who insisted that my "perception" of events was way off-- find a way to get ahold of the tape and I will gladly post it on the web. I guarantee that when people see the video they will see whose version of events is colored by an agenda.

    ReplyDelete
  14. watchtower on-line...

    Not only a very important issue, this is certainly an emotional one for everyone. Unfortunately the US Military doesn't deal well with emotional issues.

    I guess the facts are that Mikey Weinstein had a somewhat "cold" reception at ACSC and Chris wrote about it. While I understand the issues surrounding the "academic freedom" rules, I did not see a violation of them in Chris' posting.

    I can attest that the Military has religious issues and they need to get it under control. While I respect the person who desires a personal relationship with a deity I request they keep it to themselves. I'm tired of going to Military functions and have to listen to someone thank their deity first and foremost...I don't care!

    I read a lot of the info on the christainfighterpilot website...he scares me to death. If there is a reason to believe we have a probable issue with national security...he's it! However, also I believe there are some in the Military that take their deity and the US Constitution as two separate and distinct entities...and I say again "separate" entities. The deity thing is the so-called afterlife and the US Constitution is the present (liken to democracy) for lack of a better word(s).

    President Kennedy said it best:

    "I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is
    absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he
    be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his
    parishioners for whom to vote. . . . I believe in an America . . . where
    no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public
    policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other
    ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will
    directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of
    its officials. . . . That is the kind of America in which I believe...Whatever issue may come before me as president - on birth control, divorce, censorship, gambling or any other subject - I will make my decision in accordance with . . . what my conscience tells me to be the national interest, and without regard to outside religious pressures or dictates."

    Words to live (and love) by!

    watchtower out...

    P.S. Chris--you did well to speak out...wish there were more like you!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Watchtower: Bravo Zulu from " ... USNA Ancient ... [who is] not really interested in honest dialogue [sic ,] but use[s] extremism and distortion hoping to be heard ..."

    To: standingupfc "... briefly" ? ... really ... yet -amazingly- you said nothing worth reading. Regarding your opinion of me ... to quote Rhett Butler, "Frankly, ... I don't give a damn !" ... but, if you are an example of what the military in general and the USAF in particular is permitting within the ranks ... well, it does more to prove Mikey's point than anything I could ever say !

    ReplyDelete
  16. Actually, Mikey Weinstein would have been treated a lot better at a Tea Party rally. The TPs are largely Libertarians, and at every TP rally I've ever seen, the crowds were wonderfully polite. In fact, I'd strongly recommend that Weinstein arrange to speak at one of their rallies, pointing out how officers pushing their pet religions in the military is a betrayal of the Constitution.

    --Leslie <;)))><

    ReplyDelete