Too Many Crusaders in U.S. Uniforms

By Mikey Weinsteinpresident, Military Religious Freedom Foundation Imagine a theocratic militia imposing its will on whoever it encounters; forcing its … Continued

By Mikey Weinstein
president, Military Religious Freedom Foundation

Imagine a theocratic militia imposing its will on whoever it encounters; forcing its way of life on those unfortunate to live nearby; demanding assimilation, inflicting excruciating torture or even death on its enemies because they pray to a different god. A similar fate falls on their own citizens and fellow soldiers brave enough to question why.

This scenario is not a stretch of the imagination for any middle school world history student. Our history books are filled with stories of soldiers and kings conquering their enemies in the name of and because of their lord. But is the notion of a military whose orders were given by a spiritual being a forgotten part of human history as much as the Visigoths or Canaanites?

After all, we no longer live in ancient or medieval times; our military fights not for a sacred cause or holy premonition, but as a last resort to protect and defend the nation from its enemies pursuant to our cherished Constitution. Or do we? Unless steps are taken immediately to prevent the fundamentalist Christian evangelical proselytization of our nation’s military, America is dangerously tiptoeing closer to a modern day reincarnation of the Crusade’s Templar Knights.

Unfortunately for us, during the first 100 days of his administration, President Obama has been, sadly, more of the same when it comes to protecting the religious liberties of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines. His inaction could not come at a worse time. Our nation continues to be at war against a fundamentalist Muslim threat, which seizes every opportunity to inspire new generations of terrorist fighters by comparing America’s actions to those of the Crusaders. Knowing this, why do we continue to allow fundamentalist Christian evangelicals in the military to incite and embolden our enemies and give fodder to those who want to kill and maim our children?

Instead of courts martial, demotion or discharge, senior military commanders guilty of proselytizing and limiting the religious freedoms of others have actually been promoted. Instead of taking steps to disband and prevent evangelical fundamentalist religious groups at our nation’s military academies from organizing, these movements have gone underground. Controversial faith speakers are still invited to address cadets, midshipmen and others, and military superiors and chaplains are given free reign to impose their own traditions and beliefs on all those who serve under them regardless of their subordinates’ own religious upbringing. Time and time again, the Pentagon has encouraged or turned a blind eye to these actions; something we learned to expect from the Bush administration, but were hopeful would be discontinued once he left office.

Opponents will argue that I am trying to take away our soldiers’ faith in God. That I am trying to remove Christianity from those wiling to and who, under the current situation in Iraq and Afghanistan, may die in service to this country. This notion, much to the chagrin of my enemies, is false. Every soldier has the right to pray or not in the manner they see fit. This fact is true in the battlefield and in life. However, it is fundamentally wrong under any circumstance for that same soldier to directly or indirectly force his or her own religious traditions and beliefs on others under his or her command.

Our founding fathers instilled in our national fabric equality for all, and as a result, all Americans were given the right to live freely and practice their own religious and cultural traditions without bias. Furthermore, since our nation’s founding, our armed forces have brought together in service whites, blacks, Christians, Jews, Muslims and many other faith and ethnic groups, even as they were unable to eat at the same restaurants or attend the same schools with one another. At no point in our history has there ever been a religious test or requirement to serve our country. Our Constitution specifically prohibits it. But such a prohibited test now exists both implicitly and explicitly in our U.S. military. When one dons the uniform of our country, there is only one Cross, Crescent Moon or Star of David: the American flag. There is only one Bible, Torah or Koran: the Constitution. And, there is only one religion: American patriotism.

Every four years, our President takes the same oath; in fact our current president uttered its words twice. Let’s hope that before the next 100 days pass, President Obama will remember that the promises made in the presidential oath include the First Amendment. Further, that he will find fault with and punish the actions of those in the Pentagon who make a travesty of the religious liberties of those who choose to serve our country; a travesty that has now become a national security threat. When it comes to these constitutionally guaranteed freedoms, the men and women serving honorably in our nation’s military cannot afford a carbon copy of President Bush.

Mikey Weinstein is an honor graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, former Reagan White House legal counsel and general counsel to H. Ross Perot and is currently the president and founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.

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  • kert1

    Wow, not sure what to call this. Obviously this guy is against religious practices and in particular Christianity.I will start by saying that religious practice has always been a big part of the Military. Almost all great military leaders have shown a faith of some kind. Given their great responsibility, this is no surprise. I think the same can be said of any great leaders in our history. Faith is some common among people of integrity, such as our military.As for people practicing faith in military, there is a freedom of religion in the military too. People are free to preach and live as they choose. No one is forced to do anything, but many people use this opportunity to explore the faiths out there. Again, being in great responsibility often make us reflect on God. It is very common and the military encourages such activity. And as far as I know, no real wrongdoing has been found, forcing people to convert. This is a little wacky to think this. Obviously people convert by their own choice.As for using force to promote Christianity, this is another thing that hasn’t happened. I would remind you that ultimately the president runs the military and we have never forced anyone to convert or die. If anyone did they would be prosecuted.If you want less religious folks in the army then convince others to join. While I agree that there is a higher rate in the military than elsewhere, but I highly doubt they are anywhere near a majority. Christians do feel a particular duty to be involved in the countries protection but I can’t see how this a bad thing. It’s a free country and the military accepts most anyone. If you want to change the makeup of the military then join and serve.

  • kjohnson3

    “I will start by saying that religious practice has always been a big part of the Military….Faith is some common among people of integrity, such as our military.”Yes, Christian religiosity does flourish in the military. But not for reasons of integrity or responsibility.The brainwashing that can make a human being into an automaton soldier is the same as that which makes a person into a fundamentalist Christian. So, it’s no great stretch to admit that this kind of over-the-top faith makes a great marriage with the extremes of military life and the people it appeals to.Yes, I agree that many great leaders have turned to their faith for help and sustenance in managing huge responsibility, but these people were looking for internal guidance, not browbeating others into ideological submission.

  • kert1

    KJOHNSON,I personally believe these people are some of our best and brightest citizens. It’s very sad today that they are often seen a joke. I hope someday our people will again respect them like we used to.

  • Nosmanic

    They is a larger point that: When did forcing religion on others? become a religious right and when did hate speech become “True Christianity”

  • Paganplace

    No, folks, the writer here is *not* hating on Christianity, he’s talking about the aggressive and coercive and exclusionary activities of Fundamentalists and evangelical Christians in the military. These abuses he’s referring to are pretty well documented, despite not getting much airplay. Frankly, though, the Obama administration has so *much* on its plate that such a hot-button issue is a little harder than an executive order to solve. It’s been a tricky first hundred days for our President, and it’d certainly have been hard to give all the issues involved the proper kind of attention… Perhaps you have some suggestions, in the meantime, sir? The President *is* certainly talking about issues relating to pluralism and other themes, and trying to undo some of the divisiveness of recent decades.

  • Freestinker

    “Faith is some common among people of integrity, such as our military.”Kert1,Faith is also common among people with no integrity, such as in our prisons.——————–“And as far as I know, no real wrongdoing has been found, forcing people to convert. This is a little wacky to think this.”Kert1,If you doubt that any “real wrongdoing” has been found, please check out Mr. Weinsteins’ web site (Military Religious Freedom Foundation) ——————–“As for using force to promote Christianity, this is another thing that hasn’t happened. I would remind you that ultimately the president runs the military and we have never forced anyone to convert or die.”Kert1,”Convert or die” is not the standard by which 1st Amendment violations are measured. Unlawful religious coercion takes many forms short of “convert or die”. Uninvited proselytising by a superior officer is all it takes to constitute a serious Constitutional violation (which is also a clear violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, UCMJ) and Mr. Weinstein has documented many such cases on his MRFF website.———————“If you want less religious folks in the army then convince others to join.”Kert1,Mr. Weinstein never said he wants fewer religious folks in the military. As a practicing Jew, he’s pretty darn religious himself. He just wants religious service members to respect the Constitution and abide by the UCMJ and not use their position or authority to threaten or coerce others based on matters of religious opinion. He wants those in positions of authority, starting with the President, to hold their subordinates accountable to the law. That’s all.———————“It’s a free country and the military accepts most anyone. If you want to change the makeup of the military then join and serve. “Kert1,From Mr. Weinstein’s website: “Mikey’s family has a long and distinguished U.S. military history spanning three consecutive generations of military academy graduates and over 130 years of combined active duty military service in every major combat engagement our country has been in from World War I to the current Global War on Terror.”So Kert1, Mr. Weinstein has joined and served as you suggest. All he is asking is for the U.S. Military to honor the oath they all took to respect and defend the Constitution and likewise to abide by the UCMJ.

  • Arminius

    Another broadside aimed at Kurt:It might interest you – might, maybe, perhaps – that the US Army did a study, after WWII, on what motivates a soldier in combat. They fully expected to validate the prevailing opinion of religion, motherhood, and apple pie.Boy were they ever wrong.The first thing that goes through a soldier’s mind in combat is, “Am I gonna die?”. The next thing in his mind is much, much stronger: “There is NO WAY that I will let my buddies down, even if I must die.” His loyalty under fire is first, to his friends beside him, and next, to his immediate unit, always small, usually a company or regiment. Beyond that – nothing. A soldier in combat may pray, or not, but it does not motivate him, even if it brings comfort. (I have personally talked to combat veterans who spoke much like this.) He does not think at all about religion, or the political leanings of his friends, or even their sexual orientation. All he thinks about is “Let’s get the job done, everybody, and somehow get out of this mess together and alive.”Go figure, Kurt. Better men than you and I have been in combat, and this is how they felt – and feel today.

  • beforegod

    Interesting. The other day me Son and WE spotted a Army Guy carrying his lunch (from some store) as he was walking into a JOIN THE ARMY Kiosk. So,WE asked Him Hoe mush does a ‘Private” (no Rank) make Annually? He said, “… With Benny’s +/- $32,000. WOW! Now thats tempting. Especially when Joining the SERVICE can save ones Life; Not Only Prison!As a young lad I once attended a Military School, But I [WE] decided JOIN, The “CONSCIENTIOUS-OBJECTORS” Party of Space-Ship Earth during the HIGH AMERICAN 60’s & the AMERICAN IMPATIENT 1970’s!!Note: I used to be a “BOY SCOUT.” Please see:

  • beforegod

    Oooppps:I Was also a “CUB-SCOUT” before being a “BOY-SCOUT”. And that Experience is PRICE-LESS! Note: I was also a U.S. MERCHANT SEAMAN (non-Combat).

  • beforegod

    Note: As a Young Lad (oh’ how I [WE] wish then what I [WE] know now)And during “Honest-Clean-fun” We would change the pledge, jokingly singing,”On My Honor, I will Do My best to help the Girl-scouts Get Undressed.”Please; Excuse Us Young at heart!

  • Arminius

    BeforeGod wrote, re Boy Scouts:”On My Honor, I will Do My best to help the Girl-scouts Get Undressed.”Well, don’t you remember this?A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, reverent, and HORNY!!!

  • Gaby1

    I am confused, did I miss something?My husband who served in the U.S. Army from 1971 until 1993 was never coerced into any religion. I know, I was there from 1975 until his retirement. Nor were any of the other soldiers he served with inundated with religion(s). Those who wanted to go to service did, and those who liked to sleep in on Sundays did that too. In all those years, at all the different duty stations, I never met a chaplin who preached a particular faith. They served the whole community and that was that.You know that OLD saying about there being no atheists in foxholes. Trust me, when in a foxhole you last thought is about religion for the vast majority about soldiers.The only one who got it right so far is Arminius. More power to him!

  • Gaby1

    Hi JJ!I guess Arminius has you pegged!

  • Arminius

    Hi, Gaby,Thanks, and I did forget to mention that when I was in the Army, 1968-1970, there was absolutely NO pressure. Chaplains were respected, and neutral, and trusted.Damn those bigots who have perverted our Army.

  • Gaby1

    Well, Arminius, you know what they say about opinions!!!

  • Gaby1

    Oh, then again, Arminius, maybe it’s a flyboy thing. You never know what they do up there when they soar. LOL!!!

  • beforegod

    Correction:”So, SEXUAL-GUILT [Should-Not] come between “LIFE” & “LOVE”: duly Married/Wed or not Wed/Married, license or no license!”

  • Gaby1

    Hey, JJ, are your hormones whacked out today??? You seem a little out of sorts!

  • Arminius

    JJ,Please go back to your prison cell.

  • beforegod

    F a r n a z 1M a n s o u r i1:I thank you for directing [Us, in U.S.] me to ROSS PEROT’s soldier Mr. M. Weinstein’s expos’e. I will use it as “Evidence” in our [Federal] court case in defense of the Holy-Cosmic-Feelers-Faith [Ho-Co-Fe-Fa] SYSTEM, a belief, like a religion, but better & Justly based on TRUTH (opposite MYTH) Systems! Something the EVANGELICALs are afraid of in U.S. of A will Evolve/Explode As Prophecied!Like a “Blessing” [ the Ho-Co-Fe-Fa System] is Un-Reversable! Hence a Prophecy whose TIME is cometh, as foretold!

  • Gaby1

    Oh, Arminius, don’t mind JJ….he’s just who he is, he can’t help it!!!

  • Arminius

    Gaby,JJ is a thoroughly foul customer. He is responsible for the size limit on posts, and got thrown off for that, and for gross insults. His ‘religion’ was created in prison, and is, by many accounts, a white supremacist cult.

  • Gaby1

    Oh, Arminius, I know that and you know that and many others know that….but JJ doesn’t know that!I have to smile when he posts, cause he is SOOO obviously JJ, regardless of what moniker he uses.

  • Gaby1

    I think his whole problem stems from being raped one too many times in jail by his fellow inmates. Maybe he is just a little, feminine male who likes to talk about sex between a man and a woman, cause he can’t have it. Who knows! I feel sory for him in any case!

  • beforegod

    Dear; C C N L:Dear; F a r n a z 1M a n s o u r i1: ANDDear CYBER FREUNDS Et Al:On April 3rd, 2010 [exactly the Therein YE will find the “ULTRA-PARA-TESTAMENT” of the HOLY-i Cosmic “NEW-SONG”, comming from ALL our “OLD-SONG”s {Chumash/Bibles, Quran/Koran, Geeta/Gita..} as promised All Us real-MEN & real-WOMEN.”IT”s “DUE-TO-BE” & will have the blessings of the “United Nations” via the “WORLD FAITH EXCHANGE” in order to expedite HEALING OF NATIONS, WORLD-PEACE & more good Tidings as promised.PS: There’s lots of Bible-LESS & Evil-Spirited & Spiteful/Jealous Folk whom hath a Bibless Life and think they got/have TRUE (opposite MYTH) religion. And whose behaviors, on board WAPO here, tickles Us to Death! Soo,Dumb gets Dumber; Ye knowth what Me means aye!?THEREFORE: Dear Sisters/Brethrens of Space-Ship Earth; WE are ALL the SONs & DAUGHTERs of the Creator of ‘PHOTONS’ (of the stuff/thing of OUR “Holy-i Cosmic ‘LIFE’ etc..) ANDThat WE are not “god(s) chosen people”? anymore; but WE are in TRUTH “NATURALLY-SELECTion’d” ANDAs Students Forever of SOURCE-ONE that Us Son’s & Daughter’s Never Graduate! How about YE?

  • Athena4

    I’m sure that in the Armed Forces of the 70s there was no pressure to convert to any religion. However, times have changed. I am not a member of the military, but I work closely with them. I was browbeaten by some Mormons back in the late ’80s and early ’90’s, but told them that I’d never willingly give up caffeine (let alone alcohol, but that’s another story). I’ve heard numerous stories from numerous soldiers about being harassed and threatened by their fellow soldiers because they weren’t Christians. Focus on the Family and other Fundamentalist organizations are in Colorado Springs for a reason – they practically OWN the AF Academy. I’ve not heard that it’s so bad in the Navy, but it’s especially bad in the AF. Nobody is disrespecting the military, or criticizing their performance. It’s just that men and women of all faiths – and none – should be equally valued and respected by their fellow soldiers.

  • Gaby1

    Athena,I have a hard time imagining that the military has changed that much.I am not questioning your experiences, and since I was just an Army wife and have no knowledge of what goes on in the other services, I may be out of line.But honestly, I have never heard of such behavior.On the other hand, we spent most of our time overseas, so that may be a factor. Plus we never really lived on base except in Ft. Hood (Army) for about 1 1/2 years and in a military complex off base in Philly (Navy) while husband was punished with recruiting service for about 3 years.

  • arosscpa

    Mr. Weinstein:How many individuals need to be “offended” before the rights of the majority are limited? Just you? You and five of your groupies? Remember that the US Constitution, which you swore to uphold when you arrived at a plebe in Colorado Springs, guarantees “freedom of religion.” “Freedom from religion” appears only in the private correspondence of Mr. T. Jefferson.Our military service folks face higher occupational morbidity and mortality in their chosen professions in peacetime than most any civilian does, These rates increase several fold during wartime. If in dealing with that risk the majority choose to practice their faith, as individuals and communities, I think most Americans will encourage them and more highly honor their sacrifices. If some service people are so self-centered and immature that they cannot deal with that, then they should find other vocations, because they never understood military service in the first place.Grow up!

  • kert1

    Arminius,I have no problem with the study you post. It sounds logical but it doesn’t really have to do what I’m talking about. I doubt a combat soldier in action is thinking over the finer points of theology any more than I am at work. We are both thinking of getting the job done and our livelihood. But many soldiers do turn to God for motivation to go on. I think that goes unsaid. Risking your life is a hard thing to do I’m sure in times of reflection and deep stress religious and even non-religious turn to God. I have no clue about what attitude of mine and chaplains you are referring. The job of Chaplains is to give spirtitual guidance to soldiers as they need. They don’t have any time to chase around those that have no interest and I’ve never heard of this. My Brother-in-law is currently trying to be a military chaplain because there is a tremendous need and few volunteers. There is a diverse group of chaplains that represent different religions and denominations. They are given the sam religious freedom we all have. They give the spiritual counsel they believe and they respect the beliefs of the soldiers.

  • kert1

    Freestinker,I agree there have been cases brought against individuals, but that is about all. While there may have been a couple issolated inncidents with some credence, most are just people trying to remove religion from the military (like Mikey). Unfortunately the military has gotten weary of dealing with these and has promoted policies that try to discourage overt religious behaviour, but this goes against military policy. Military personel have always had the right to have religious groups and have events and promote their beliefs respectively. Anyone can respond as they wish and most people don’t get involved. Quite frankly what Weistein is promoting is religious bigotry. No one should be dismissed from the military or oppressed because of their beliefs. Currently this is the case but to force out Christians because they are influencial would be the same as forcing out Jews, Muslims, or Atheists. You know people would be crying about that. I think even Mr Weistein would have a problem.

  • justillthen

    Hello arosscpa,”How many individuals need to be “offended” before the rights of the majority are limited?”What are the “rights of the majority, arosscpa? And relating to the influence of evangelicals in the military, how are they being limited? Do you believe that majority means domination and subjugation of the minority?Freedom of religion must be by definition freedom from religion. Leastwise it must allow the freedom to non-engagement in religion.The influence of the christian right in the military is an issue for very good reason, and the warning signal that people like Mr. Weinstein sends up in important and very appreciated by me. If the evangelicals were themselves less “self-centered and immature” and better “understood military service in the first place”, they would be getting more respect and less suspicion. History is full of examples of conditioned and indoctrinated military and it is never good. In the hands of elitist and arrogant believers in myth unfounded in reality, (prove to me evangelicals got it right!), then it can become downright dangerous.I do not think that the christian right will ever voluntarily seek accord or compromise with other faiths. They are far too elitist and egotistical. So I think that rules must be followed and enforced, and the implementation of these rules overseen by non evangelicals. They obviously cannot police themselves when it comes to religious proselytization.

  • Athena4

    It is the right of every person in the Armed Forces to worship as they choose or not. It it NOT the right of every person in the Armed Forces to be pressured or intimidated by someone – either a commander or a fellow soldier – into worshiping a certain way. It goes against the Constitution. You know, that document that all soldiers swear to protect and defend?

  • arosscpa

    Justillthen wrote “Freedom of religion must be by definition freedom from religion. Leastwise it must allow the freedom to non-engagement in religion.”This is not a fact, it is not black letter law, it isn’t anything other than personal opinion based on a reading of T. Jefferson’s private correspondence, which has no force at law.While I agree that private individuals can never be mandated to practice a religion thay do not belong to, what this means in terms of the US Constitution tends to cycle about every 50 years. With the USSCt’s decision on the pledge and public display of the Ten Commandments and other religious symbols in public spaces, I believe that the cycle of more tolerance for religious expression in public life has begun. One example from last week would be BHO’s administration removing the question about religious hiring exemption for organizations receiving federal funds from the list of pending task force issues.It is also well established that civil and military employees have restrictions on their Constitutional rights, which private citizens would not suffer. The Hatch Act is one example.The public is best served when men and women are fully prepared to deal with tasks assigned them, including one’s spiritual resources. For this reason public safety officers and military personnel are provided chaplaincy and counseling personnel, when other government personnel are not. If unit cohesion and morale are enhanced by members of the unit sharing their faith lives in a communal setting, I don’t think anyone has a right that trumps those rights, and compromises the public’s peace and safety.

  • Freestinker

    “Unfortunately the military has gotten weary of dealing with these and has promoted policies that try to discourage overt religious behaviour, but this goes against military policy.”Kert1,The U.S. Constitution and the UCMJ both strictly prohibit unwanted proselytising or any kind of religious coercion by active duty service members. Exactly what “military policy” are you talking about? ———————“I’ll be honest with you. I really am not much concerned with what Mr. Weinstein has written.”Kert1,How on earth can you possibly object to well-documented constitutional violations in the military if you haven’t even read, much less researched, Mr. Weinstein’s allegations? How can you so easily dismiss so many serious violations without even knowing what any of the facts are? Never mind the facts, you’ve made up your mind! Then you have the gaul to criticize the messenger without ever hearing the messege! You accuse Mr. Weinstein of religious bigotry without providing a single shred of evidence to support your claim. That’s nothing more than a baseless ad hominem attack and is not very persuasive at all. It sounds like you have the standard Christian persecution complex we hear so often. It goes like this. Christians bully and coerce others to accept or endorse their religious opinions at work or in other inappropriate settings (i.e. the military). Then, when people object to this uninvited coercive proselytising and file legitimate complaints supported by irrefutable evidence (which you have refuse to even read), the oppressors cry religious bigotry! What a canard! Stopping inappropriate and unwanted proselytising in the workplace does not constitute religious bigotry. Holding service members accountable to the oaths they freely took does not constitute religious bigotry. Of course “no one should be dismissed” simply because of their religious opinions but when they violate the religious liberty of others, when they violate the Constitution, when they violate the UCMJ, then they most certainly should be severely disciplined.

  • Freestinker

    “How many individuals need to be “offended” before the rights of the majority are limited? Just you? You and five of your groupies? Remember that the US Constitution, which you swore to uphold when you arrived at a plebe in Colorado Springs, guarantees “freedom of religion.” “Freedom from religion” appears only in the private correspondence of Mr. T. Jefferson.”————————-AROSSCPA,Actually freedom from religion is right there in the 1st amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It’s the part that reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, …” This means that government officials, those acting in official government capacities (like active duty service members), can not proselytise, endorse or otherwise promote religious opinions while on the job acting in their official capacity. That’s freedom from (gov’t imposed) religion.Being “offended”, as you call it, is not the issue here. If you think it is, then you have completely missed the point. No one has a Constitutional right not to be “offended”. Mr. Weinstein is concerned about those offenses that clearly violate of the law and his legal foundation has documented many such violations on their website.

  • beforegod

    “Al Taqiyah” The Islamic Zionist Conquest to takeovewr ‘Flast-earth THEN, but now They {Al TAQIYAH}ists want to takeover the Whole-ROUND (not flat) Earth; After Teaching them our TRUTH (opposite MYTH).

  • beforegod

    Opppsa:Al TAQIYAHist’s “… Take Over ‘Flat-Earth” Then …” Now Round-Earth?!

  • B2O2

    “After all, we no longer live in ancient or medieval times; our military fights not for a sacred cause or holy premonition, but as a last resort to protect and defend the nation from its enemies pursuant to our cherished Constitution.”HA HA HAHAHAA HAHAHAHAAAAOh, you’re serious. Our military is used to protect us from our enemies? That’s not what they were sent into Iraq for. Ask Hunt Oil, et al. God, how naive so many Americans still are.

  • Farnaz1Mansouri1

    B202″Oh, you’re serious. Our military is used to protect us from our enemies?”Interesting. Reminds me of a something Robert McNamara recalled in his efforts to persuade the Soviets to give up the Anti-Ballistic Missile System, which he deemed ineffectual and, hence, did not want the US to bother with. A waste of money, thought Bob.At all events, the Soviets couldn’t understand why the US would want them to end their ABM “program,” protesting that it was simply defensive. I can’t recall the name of McNamara’s Soviet counterpart, but I remember McNamara’s comment in the old interview rebroadcast last year, when I first learned about his efforts: “He REALLY believed this,” said McNamara. His counterpart really believed that the ABM was defensive.The reasons for nations to have regular armies are questionable. However, it seems obvious that either we all give up our militaries or none of us do. And, then, they grow, take on dimension. You can have your Taliban military, your Fundi military, etc.

  • arosscpa

    Freestinker says: Actually freedom from religion is right there in the 1st amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It’s the part that reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, …” This means that government officials, those acting in official government capacities (like active duty service members), can not proselytise, endorse or otherwise promote religious opinions while on the job acting in their official capacity. That’s freedom from (gov’t imposed) religion.No ignorance is as infuriating as invincible ignorance. “Congress shall not establish..” is a long way from not pemiting any government official to in any way reference religion. The meaning of the 1st Amendment is interpreted by the federal courts, not a small crew of anti-religious nutcases. As stated previously, the USSCt’s jurisprudence with respect to religious freedom tends to move in 50-year cycles.The fact of the matter is that disallowing military officials any exercise of religion while in service would effectively vitiate their 1st amendment right to practice their religion, These people are in a service capacity 24/7. What do you expect: Have them place their religious lives on hold until the service commitment come to an end?People who are so immature that they are intimidated by another’s open practice of his/her faith probably doesn’t belong in the military, or any where near weapons.

  • Athena4

    If people weren’t so immature as to think that their faith was the ONLY one and that they could proselytize in the barracks, then we wouldn’t have this problem. Mr. Weinstein is NOT suggesting that we bar any soldier from practicing their religious faith. He is an observant Jew, and wants the same freedom to practice his faith as Christians have. What you don’t understand is that proselytizing, especially by superior officers, is offensive to those people who are not Christians.

  • renkent777

    Im not sure which is a cult anymore..After going to some Baptist Churches and Churches of Christ I learned one thing that is so very important..Dont become a member of any of them..and if they request membership…find a church that doesnt put any pressure on you to become a member..I think Jesus would ask why would anyone be under a pressure to join a church if they are indeed baptized into myself..One Baptist Church was run by the ancient masons in Maine who hide behind the chamber of commerce and I watched how when one pastor left and a new pastor came in he enitrely changed the church from a place of a graceful attitude to a legalism type attitude creating hate in the church.The church of christ I went to had their members so paranoid that they all were suffering from serious problems and were so afraid of life it was sad..So even though a church might have a big title it can so become a cult as many church leaders use the church for thier own agenda or political means..so know your pastor and know this…Jesus says the kingdomm of God is with in you…It is a personal relationship and find a quiet place and pray and let Jesus show you the way…Dont let anyone (pastor,church or doctrine) put themselves between you and Jesus. and as the word says..clean your own cup from the inside and the outside will become clean..So many churches members will try to clean your cup for you for a way of control and only you can clean your own cup Jesus will show you the way….and stay clear away from the noseybuddies and gossipers at the churches because they spend time worrying whats in every other persons cup but their own cups.

  • arosscpa

    Athena:You have correctly identified the two principle points of conflict between postmodernism and the monotheistic faiths (at least Christianity and Islam):1) That each faith makes statements it believes are universally true, rather than locally true for an individual or group.2) That a constituent part of the faith requires the believer to proselytize, and the omission or refusal to do so makes one a less perfect adherent of that faith.The problem is not that these faiths will not adapt to late postmodern demands; the problem is that anti-religious activists expect the ancient faiths that have constructed civilizations to change at the whim of postmodern nihilism.I read a lot of Jewish rabbis and commentators. Mr. Weinstein might want to spend some of his rant time doing the same, because he is in no way representative of the literature.

  • Athena4

    “The problem is not that these faiths will not adapt to late postmodern demands; the problem is that anti-religious activists expect the ancient faiths that have constructed civilizations to change at the whim of postmodern nihilism.”So, proselytizing in the barracks is okay, then? I’m sure that you won’t mind if someone’s superior officer forces them to attend a Scientology brain scanning, then. Or to harass a Catholic because they’re not the “right kind” of Christian. It’s not nihilism to say that you cannot push your religion onto other people, it’s the Consititution. When you join the Armed Forces (something that you obviously have no idea about), you swear to uphold the Constitution – not the Bible. It’s everyone’s right to practice their religion, and it’s also everyone’s right to not want other religions pushed onto them.

  • Freestinker

    “The fact of the matter is that disallowing military officials any exercise of religion while in service would effectively vitiate their 1st amendment right to practice their religion, These people are in a service capacity 24/7. What do you expect: Have them place their religious lives on hold until the service commitment come to an end?”—————AROSSCPA,I think you missed the point.Of course service members can and do practice their religion while serving, within certain bounds. And I agree that those exact bounds are established by the Constitution, the Courts, and the UCMJ but generally speaking, the line is crossed when they move from “practicing” to “preaching” religion. In other words, if their practice violates the Constitution, or violates the UCMJ, or violates the religious liberty of others then it is (or should be) out of bounds. This includes things like mandatory prayer at mealtime, superior officers “suggesting” that subordinates attend a religious service, and discriminating against people in promotions, awards, or assignments based on their religious opinions.Are you saying that active duty service members should be allowed to preach, proselyise or otherwise coerce others on matters of religious opinion while on duty?

  • arosscpa

    Freestinker says: Of course service members can and do practice their religion while serving, within certain bounds. And I agree that those exact bounds are established by the Constitution, the Courts, and the UCMJ but generally speaking, the line is crossed when they move from “practicing” to “preaching” religion.I did address this issue. If a faith such as Christianity or Islam demands the adherents proselytize (share, witness, preach, invite), then to guarantee the 1st Amendment rights of all cannot simply be accomplished by banning these types of conversation from the barracks, especially for soldiers that spend all of their waking hours on the base. You must balance the dangers of creating a compulsory environment for non-adherents, while guarding the right of the adherents to fully practice their faith. What I hear from folks like Weinstein, Barry Lynn, and Athena is a lacking in that balance. Only the right of the non-adherents get protected, not the right of the adherent.Having said that, I firmly believe Christians in this position should follow the admonition of St. Francis: Preach constantly, only using words if necessary.

  • kert1

    Freestinker (part 2)Perhaps you should view this from another perspective for a second. The truth is that far more military personal are secular or at least behave this way than Christian. It is actually very challenging to keep one’s faith with so many that don’t believe as you do. Many people lose their faith or at least stop practicing it, under such pressure. Should we now punish people for pushing people to abandon their faith? I’ve heard many stories of soldiers or commanders who mock and make fun of those who read the Bible and pray. Surely, following Mr. Weinstein’s principles they should be removed as well.

  • kert1

    Freestinker,

  • Freestinker

    “What I hear from folks like Weinstein, Barry Lynn, and Athena is a lacking in that balance.”————————AROSSCPA,The problem is that you criticized those folks without providing a single specific example that clearly demonstrates your point. Can you provide at least one example where Mr. Weinstein has failed to demonstrate balance as you suggest?

  • Freestinker

    “Your insistence that military leaders are banned from expressing their faith because of the constitution is quite a logical leap. The constitution guarantees religious freedom, not freedom from religion.”Kert1,I never insisted than anyone be banned from the service merely for expressing their faith. What I said should be banned is uninvited or otherwise coercive expression (i.e. preaching), especially by commanding officers. The Constitution guarantees both freedom of religion and freedom from government sponsored religion. ————–“Our constitution guarantees us the right to personally practice our beliefs without the government telling us what we can or can’t do.”Kert1,Exactly! That’s the freedom from religion that our Constitution guarantees! ————–“A military leader (or political leader for that matter) has every right to personally express their faith to others and in their work.”Kert1,The have that right but not without limits or without repercussions if they violte those limits. For example, if the unwanted preacher is your superior officer, then we have a problem Houston.————“I’ve seen the cases and they mostly brought by groups like the ACLU that are trying to secularize America, when most Americans don’t want it.”Kert1,Unsupported claims are not very persuaive and so far, you have completely failed to support your claim. If you could describe just one MRFF case that you find objectionable and explain why, then we’d have something more specific to discuss.

  • arosscpa

    Freestinker:I define the right to practice one’s religion as being able to practice all aspects, including recruiting, social activities, table grace, etc. Weinstein seems to stop the practice of religion whenever a non adherent is within ear shot.The most outrageous case to me was the VMI table grace case, which I think Weinstein was involved. For one person to be able to displace a 150 year-old custom at VMI because one student “felt uncomfortable” demonstrates a total unwillingness to balance the rights of all concerned. A demand that the one person’s feeling be recognized to the exclusion of all others is precedent that cannot be overturned too soon.

  • Freestinker

    “I define the right to practice one’s religion as being able to practice all aspects, including recruiting, social activities, table grace, etc. Weinstein seems to stop the practice of religion whenever a non adherent is within ear shot.”AROSSCPA,I would generally agree with your definition with some important exceptions. The primary exceptions being any religious practice that has the imprimatur of the government or any religious practice that either discriminates or is coercive to others.

  • Freestinker

    “The most outrageous case to me was the VMI table grace case, which I think Weinstein was involved. For one person to be able to displace a 150 year-old custom at VMI because one student “felt uncomfortable” demonstrates a total unwillingness to balance the rights of all concerned. A demand that the one person’s feeling be recognized to the exclusion of all others is precedent that cannot be overturned too soon.”AROSSCPA,As a taxpaying citizen of Virginia, I couldn’t disagree with you more on this particular case. The VMI situation was a case where, over time, the religious opinions of the majority became entangled with the compulsory daily military traditions of the school (i.e. compulsory mealtime prayers). Official compulsory prayers are prohibited at VMI not because “one student felt uncomfortable” or because of “A demand that the one person’s feeling be recognized to the exclusion of all others”. Official compulsory prayers are prohibited at VMI because they are plainly unconstitutional and Mr. Weinstein won the case completely on it’s merits.Still, to this day, no one is prohibited from praying at mealtime at VMI or in any other public school. What is prohibited are official compulsory prayers and the court has correctly ruled that official prayers at mandatory events in public schools are unconstitutional. No one should ever be forced or coerced by the State into praying against their will and no one should ever be compelled by the State to attend any prayer or religious service whatsoever and this is exactly what was happening at VMI.The VMI folks would have had a better case if attendence at their official prayers was not mandatory and if the official prayers were more inclusive of the diversity of religious opinions at VMI but they were not (nor were they intended to be). Even so, government officials still cannot promote religion (however inclusive it may be) over non-religion without running afoul of the Constitution and the basic safeguards for ensuring invidvidual religious liberty. As government officials, VMI officers, professors and staff all are employees of the State and as such they are prohibited by the Constitution from endorsing or promoting religion in their official capacity. Compulsory mealtime prayers at at State school clearly violate the Constitution. That’s precisely why VMI lost the case and why Mr. Weinstein prevailed! As a student of VMI “traditions”, I’m sure you know that racial segregation and discrimination against women were also long held “traditions” at VMI before similar court cases ended those “traditions” as well. Oh well, unconstitutional traditions never impressed me that much anyway!