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This is what a problem with religious freedom looks like

To say that Mikey Weinstein of the misnamed Military Religious Freedom Foundation has a hang-up about Christianity would be much too mild. It would be closer to say that Weinstein is a mouth-foaming, obsessed Christianophobe, a word I don't use lightly. Weinstein is Captain Ahab, and out-of-the-closet Christians in the military are his white whale.

Weinstein is so crazy that he doesn't even realize how crazy he sounds. His unhinged rants, which he fully expects to be taken with dead seriousness by everyone, would be funny if he didn't have far too much influence with higher military brass. See more examples here.

Here's Weinstein's latest, about an Air Force Major who (I know you will be shocked) actually keeps an open Bible on his desk.

For years he has kept an open, yellow highlighted Christian bible displayed front and center, quite prominently, on his official USAF work desk in an open office work environment. The egregious Constitutional and DoD regulatory violations of such a brazen display of sectarian Christian triumphalism and exceptionalism have been noted by many USAF members through the years but they have not sought to officially seek redress and remediation from this outrageous display of callous and bold Christian primacy from their respective USAF chains of command due to all-too-credible fears of reprisal and retribution from same.

Yep, sounds like an egregious violation of the U.S. Constitution to me!

But the military authorities are listening! In fact, they even reopened the case when Weinstein and his cooperative informants (Air Force personnel who anonymously claim to be quaking in their boots because of Major Lewis's terrifying open Bible) kept pressing.

Feltman [the Colonel in charge of the investigation] says when the issue was first raised, the display seemed in compliance. But after the MRFF complaint, he says, "We're going to go back and look at that to see if we're in compliance and if not, we're going to take corrective action."

Three years ago the Air Force adopted a new anti-proselytization policy. I wrote about it at length and debated liberal commentators about it here. This appears to be the fruit of that policy. Draw your own conclusions.

If you think the investigation and re-investigation of Major Lewis's having an open Bible on his desk where (gasp) people can see it is a reasonable response to a real problem, then I conclude that you are not a reasonable person on this issue.

Even if Major Lewis is ultimately allowed, graciously, to have the Bible on his desk, the process is to some extent the punishment. The fact that one's career will hang by a thread for having a Bible on one's desk is likely to have what we legal geeks call a chilling effect on religious expression in the military.

Weinstein didn't get as far in his call for a court martial (!) of Major General Craig Olson for an openly Christian speech to Congress, but not for want of trying.

Chaplain Modder wasn't so lucky. He was eventually reinstated after being hounded out of the Navy for his Christian moral views, but his case dragged on for a long time, and he actually was removed at one point. His ultimate recovery of his job hardly makes up to him for what he went through and does not remove the warning to other chaplains.

If you are a clueless political candidate whose eyes glaze over when someone asks you a question about the current problem with religious liberty in the military, I suggest that you start with these cases. Also see the video here. This is one area where we certainly don't need the permission of the Supreme Court to make a difference.

Comments (25)

The complacency of what are often thought to be our "conservative" institutions is hard enough to take; their active enmity breaks the heart.

I wish to cause no offence, but I am one Irishman who, if the US War Party achieves its seeming intention of prosecuting war against an emphatically post-communist Russia, will be rootin' for Putin.

The errors of Russia, as they inflicted her during Soviet times, were grievous indeed, but they had the excuse that they were enforced at gunpoint. Modern USA seems to be embracing these errors not just willingly but gleefully and spitefully and taking them to a far more wicked and extreme level.

It is sadly getting to the point that I anticipate the fall of the once great United States of America far more eagerly than I did that of the Soviet Union. What's wrong with US?

I wonder what would happen if an officer displayed a rainbow flag on their desk. What really is the difference? Both are displays of the person's religious beliefs. Yet the hypothetical rainbow flag displaying officer getting in trouble is inconceivable. That would be discrimination, right?


One difference between us and the Soviets is that we are still free to speak openly about the bad things happening in our country. Be careful what you wish for. The cultural rot has infected Europe too and the Russians and Chinese systems leave a lot to be desired.

We are emphatically not going to be discussing "rooting for Putin" on this thread. Or rooting for him. That is about as OT as it gets.

DR84, I'm sure the rainbow flag would be joyously permitted.

In fact, I pointed out in my earlier posts three years ago on this whole phenomenon that the military has for a very long time been carrying out sensitivity training, which is *obviously* threatening lower-ranking soldiers' careers if they do not subscribe to a particular ideology or at least keep their mouths shut if they don't. Yet when it comes to Christianity, specifically, any slightest indication that an officer is a Christian, thinks Christianity is true, endorses Christianity is placed under the microscope because of the possibility that this could make a lower-ranking member feel uncomfortable or threatened. It's insane. Some ideologies can be shoved down the throats of all military members in the most blatant fashion, with clear penalties for disagreement. But Christianity mustn't be endorsed in any way, shape, or form by a higher-ranking officer.

Please don't take my comment too much to heart. I was only venting. It is difficult not to be frustrated when observing that even the military of the United States is falling victim to the cancer of cultural Marxism that seems to have metastisised throughout every institution in the West.

DR84, the free speech of your country is something you rightly celebrate, but it is becoming severely constricted. It is desperately distressing and highly symbolic if a soldier, whose very way of life means exposing himself to possible sudden death for the protection of his society, is prevented from openly expressing his Christian moral views. In contrast, there are photographs aplenty on the internet of priests throwing holy water and blessing various Russian weaponry. Regardless of how you regard Russia, this is how it should be in any military. Those who face death at any moment should receive all the spiritual help they can get. As for Europe, many of us here are disturbed to see the US replicate the errors that have almost sunk us. You people are the last bastion of the West.

There is clearly an enormous alliance of various forces being currently applied against Christianity, Lydia, and I don't think the root cause is insanity, although I can see how it can seem that way. But the increasing attacks from secularism, Islam, satanism, not to mention the ceaseless internal rebellion makes me suspect a deliberate, cohesive source for all this devilment.

My apologies again for being so OT, but it is difficult for some of us to remain calm in the face of this constant attack.

I am sure the rainbow flag would be permitted, if nothing else, consider the media outrage if an officer were punished for displaying it. They would be calling for heads. Displaying a Bible and getting punished or facing punishment is a non-story, who cares? In my experience, committed activists who oppose Christianity and other traditional religions do not believe they have a religion. They just believe the facts and what science says. They have no faith, no beliefs, no ideology. It's crazy stuff, but that way of thinking destroys all possibilities of even communicating or even arguing about what is right. It is alarming to see it taking hold in the military. If it comes to pass that the military and perhaps even more so, law enforcement, personnel are opposed to traditional believers (because traditional believers are not openly allowed in the military or law enforcement) that is legitimately concerning.

DR84, if you see the video from (I think) 2013 that I linked in the main post, you'll see that it seems to be have taken root quite seriously. I'm thinking perhaps the Air Force is the worst offender of the branches. I don't know which is the least affected by hostility to Christianity, though I might very tentatively guess the Marines. (That is ignorance speaking, though.)

I really think a big part of the problem is that the U.S. military is this ginormous jobs bonanza. We've seen it with feminism and women in the military. The military is so _big_ and has so much _money_ and so many careers invested in it that it was inevitable that the social engineers would want to take it over and use it for their own ends. I was told many years ago, I think it's about eighteen years ago now, by someone who taught at West Point, that it was literally impossible to discuss the issue of the use of women in the military and war readiness or combat readiness, because the _whole_ focus was on making sure that women had equal career opportunities. The army was entirely a giant Jobs Fair. The ultimate federal career funding program.

Now, with that perspective, you can see how leftist totalitarian restrictions on speech, every sort of social experimentation, the coercive promotion of the homosexual and now the transgender agenda, and hostility to Christianity would be almost inevitable. We're talking about the federal government running a huge economic chunk, running jobs, and (this is important) doing so in a context where whoever is in charge at a high enough level can use a vague phrase like "discipline and good order" to promote whatever values they have power to promote.

It's a toxic mix of forms of power and desirable resources--economic and military authority.

This was almost bound to happen in the current social milieu.

The problem is that, unless someone can think of a better way*, we need some right-wing, Christian versions of Weinstein. People who manage to state their grievance in terms of victimhood that - crucially - other people may be able to relate to, even if crazy.

Of course, we can always decide "No, we'll be the mature party. We'll be calm, gracious, and we'll always be open to dialogue with men like Weinstein, and score a moral victory even if we lose." Popular option nowadays, I hear.

Weinstein's approach only "works" because he happens to have sympathetic hearers in positions of power. It has nothing to do with his position being such that "people can relate to" it. I would guess that most ordinary Americans who read his rants would just be put off by them. A "Christian, right-wing version of Weinstein" wouldn't need to take any particular tone. He would just need to be, through the luck of the political draw, listened to by the guys who decide what to investigate and what agenda to push. That is precisely what's happened with Weinstein. It's not like his sheer craziness has paid off.

A "Christian, right-wing version of Weinstein" wouldn't need to take any particular tone. He would just need to be, through the luck of the political draw, listened to by the guys who decide what to investigate and what agenda to push. That is precisely what's happened with Weinstein. It's not like his sheer craziness has paid off.

I can name someone else for whom what you call 'sheer craziness' is paying dividends. But let's put that aside.

Weinstein comes off as a nutjob. Then again, so does Dan Savage. So does Black Lives Matter. So does NARAL. Their common thread is that they're not just bold, they are shamelessly bold - and usually with a dash of histrionics throne in. (Dash may be underputting it.)

You talk about Weinstein having friends in positions of power, but how did he get them? From atheists to feminists to gays, the road to victory has not been one hard slog of humble reasonableness and self-effacing attitudes while casting their overly animated allies into outer darkness.

You talk about Weinstein having friends in positions of power, but how did he get them?

The leftists took over the military. It's a long story. I doubt that you know more of it than I do.

I'm not going to let you hijack this thread as you have many others. I could try to answer you reasonably. I could tell you that I have no objections to a "victim narrative" about Christians (since in many cases it's true, and as long as the instances given are truthfully related). I could give you examples of organizations that actually do play that so-called "victim card." I could point out that these stories do resonate with the general public, that the general public would probably think the investigation of this guy's Bible on the desk is nuts, but that Mikey is the one who happens to be "on the inside" nowadays.

But it wouldn't matter, because this isn't, for you, about listening to reason or making reasonable contributions to a discussion. It's about trying to hijack the thread to talk about whatever you want to talk about, to blather, always to pretend that you haven't been answered (even when you have, ad infinitum), and to waste my (and others') time. As you have done many a time before. And this time, I'm not going to let you do it.

>> I really think a big part of the problem is that the U.S. military is this ginormous jobs bonanza. We've seen it with feminism and women in the military. The military is so _big_ and has so much _money_ and so many careers invested in it that it was inevitable that the social engineers would want to take it over and use it for their own ends.

In the most general terms, the military is two things. A very large organization, and a microcosm of American society. It was always the latter, and at least as significant as the former to be the target of Liberal social engineers. This social engineering has been going on for decades, well before Clinton's "don't ask don't tell" as I think we all know.

>> The complacency of what are often thought to be our "conservative" institutions is hard enough to take; their active enmity breaks the heart.

I don't really know what it means to say in this case an institution is complacent or has an "active enmity" towards itself; it always comes down to factions and power struggles. I think the Libs are trying to destroy the military as it is, except of course as a giant social service organization. The Libs a faction in our institutions have been on the ascendant of course, but I hope the future in all these institutions isn't linear, We'll see.

I had a similar conversation with a friend last week over how much SCOTUS speaks for the American people. As with the military higher ups, their authority is legitimate because of the process. Sometimes they follow public opinion, and sometimes they try to shape it, and sometimes succeed in that and sometimes not. But we hope the shorter term doesn't determine the future, as with them all. This election cycle is a depressingly bleak one.

and a microcosm of American society.

I'd say the military has been more avant garde than the rest of society for, as you say, Mark, many decades. I agree that there's a chicken and egg issue. It's like the age-old question, does art influence society or does society influence art? But in this case I'd say the social engineers were pushing the envelope in the military in ways that society at large was unhappy with and had a general sense of themselves as doing so. It was an opportunity. DACOWITS wasn't _representative_, though they couldn't have gotten away with what they got away with if they hadn't had the connivance of the executive branch. I seem to recall that their influence *to some extent* waxed and waned with different administrations. Carter's decision to change the definition of "combat roles" was pretty crucial. Brian Mitchell gives some of this history in his book on women in the military. Carter couldn't (of course) have been President without being elected, but the extent to which gender was being redefined was "ahead" (if one can use that terminology) from the rest of society.

Re: religious freedom and the zero sum game, from an apostate Baptist:


I wonder if Gushee thinks we should thank him for the warning/threat.

I'm greatly looking forward to a Russell Moore response to it. That will be fun.

If that's your idea of fun, a Mark Yarhouse response would be even more fun. I expect Moore to discover his backbone on this particular issue.

I'm sure Gushee is gleefully forward to traditional religious institutions losing tax exempt status and perhaps facing crippling fines on top of that for "discrimination". He probably feels he is being overly kind trying to convince us "bigots" and "heretics" to "voluntarily" change our views. Have we gotten to the point where it may be a good idea for leaders or institutions who still hold to the correct (aka traditional) view of sexual morality and ethics to get together and issue a defiant warning back? Perhaps something along the lines of we will not pay any taxes we have never paid before, we will not pay any fines if found "guilty" of "discriminating", and will not vacate our buildings and property if/when law enforcement is sent to remove us (for not paying taxes/fines/etc). It seems me to that this exactly what Gushee is threatening/prophesying is coming, we have a window of opportunity to "voluntarily" change or else they are coming (ultimately with guns). Maybe it's too late now for a defiant stance to change the course of what is to come, but if it is not, maybe the people who want these things to happen and have the power to make it happen will think a bit more carefully if they know that in order to get what they want they may have to do so over the literal dead bodies of their opponents.

If these things happen my hunch is most churches will change the way Gushee and his cronies want them to, and the one's that don't will try to pay whatever is demanded of them until they can't, and when they can't they will go peacefully. Maybe a few will be defiant, and most people will figure whatever bad things happen to them (jail time/killed in police raid) they had coming.

But sensitivity training is common throughout society. I've had I don't know how many hours of sexual harassment training over the years in corporations. They are highly political. And now, even in Christian colleges it's now ramped up to include racial and gender identity sensitivities familiar to the rest of the world to an amazingly high degree. I'll derisively call it indoctrination for sure, since it is neutral in no way. I'm skeptical that we can say it's qualitatively different for the military because of their command structure. Not so sure at all.

I work with a couple of college students getting their degrees after recent service in the Army. They look at it as very similar to their military "education" or whatever you call that type of sensitivity stuff. Everyone tries to avoid it, unless you need a break from work. They've told us it's just the same as it was for them.

I also think we need to be careful about conflating the Air Force with “the military”. Each branch is different, and some have proved much more resistant to their Liberal overlords. There is a type of federalism there.

Full disclosure, I led a Bible study on an Air Force base in NM just before 9/11, and in discussions of witnessing or other activities no lack of freedom ever even came up. I remember many of those conversations. A sergeant who was a trainer said how often it was that young men under the stress of training would ask if they could talk privately, and what an opportunity it was for him as a Christian. But it makes total sense to me, because I look to try to be prepared myself for such conversations too should they arise. Many things don't happen in public because people aren't comfortable doing them in public. But I suspect saying that may be marking myself as a dupe who doesn’t understand how fast things change and the real effects of laws and regulation. But I don't see any reason to justify being more defeatist than those who've served.

Some things never change. I was clued into the subject of pacifist distortion of the idea of Christians in the Roman military by a book on JWT. Christians who wished to “serve with their bodies” volunteered in significant numbers for service in the Roman army, and remained so even during periods of state persecution. It was an all-volunteer force. It’s a persistent but discredited myth that Christians before the era of Constantine were pacifists who didn’t enlist in the Roman military (army and navy).


Not sure why sometimes I can't get links to work. Maybe it's just browser and preview issues, but pasting it naked.

I remember many of those conversations.

Mark, when I was talking about the changes in the military in a historical way, I didn't mean to imply that specifically these religious freedom issues have been with us for that long. I was doing more of a "root causes" or "long process of change" kind of thing. I would definitely say that the religious freedom issues have become much more acute after 9/11. (By which I'm not designating 9/11 as the cause of the change but merely saying "after that," since you brought up that date.)

Watch the video linked above. Those are men who have served, as are the different chaplains and so forth who have gotten in trouble. It's not like I'm making up the stories or anything. This is pretty serious stuff. I think it's definitely accelerating right now.

I _do_ think that changes of administration make a difference, and also congressional action _may_ make a difference. Chain of command is trying to implement policies and regulations. An explicit policy was passed three years ago in the Air Force (so that's obviously a new thing), and that is the cause of some of the problems here. As you see in my main story, the guy in charge of the major with the Bible on his desk at first said it was all right and now feels like he has to go back and re-investigate. As you see in my older linked post, groups of generals at the DoD meet with Mikey Weinstein on repeated occasions to fine-tune policy. Why the dickens do they do that? Not just everybody gets a meeting with top brass like that. Someone is telling these higher-ups, or something is telling them, that they have to at least appear to be cooperating with Weinstein's group, despite the fact that he's crazier than a loon. (Look at some of the mouth-foaming rants that I quote in my older post.)

So there's definitely an acceleration of this anti-Christian stuff, and it really does look like it is a change since you served. That doesn't mean you are "naive" or anything else insulting. It just means there's new data now.

Has there been any similar action taken against an islamist? As of now I doubt it.

If you read many of Weinstein's rants, you will see that he's always accusing Christians in the military of being Islamophobic. So I would guess that his obsession with goading the military to punish "religious" displays doesn't extend to Islam.

>> So there's definitely an acceleration of this anti-Christian stuff, and it really does look like it is a change since you served. That doesn't mean you are "naive" or anything else insulting. It just means there's new data now.

New data that I’m not aware of? Um, no. And yes, I’ve seen the videos. Just to be clear, I didn't serve and didn't claim to.

I’m loathe to cite personal experience, and I don’t know why I ignored that and gave my past experience on an airbase, since I know Christian young men personally who are currently serving just out of college. The latest is son of good friends from church and I filmed his marine ROTC ceremony last year. Great kid. I’m one of the great many that reads 10-15 soldier memoirs, diaries, and advice for prospective recruits a year, and at this point I prefer the latest ones coming out since Obama was president, and that doesn’t include military history. A few even written by active service members. I read several military blogs daily as a matter of course. This has nothing to do with information. I know and volunteered long ago the bias and nonsense is accelerating. Sorry, once you start sharing experience you’re automatically in a spitting contest and that’s a reminder to me why I don’t normally do it. Sorry for this waste of text. Live and relearn.

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