Church-state activist Mikey Weinstein– a U.S. Air Force Academy alumnus who has been spearheading the campaign against Christian proselytizing in the military – is not afraid to take on Rush Limbaugh.
Limbaugh mocked Weinstein on his show earlier this month, and today, Weinstein issued this open letter in response:
An Open Letter to Rush Limbaugh
In Defense of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation
Satan’s Lawyer. Un-American. Anti-religion. Pacifist. Anti-Christ. Liberal. The Field General of the Godless Armies of Satan. The Most Dangerous Man in America.
I’ve been called many names since I began my battle to uphold the religious freedoms of the noble men and women in our armed forces. I’m impressed with the creativity of my adversaries and frankly flattered that so much time has been invested in coining these denigrating titles.
It’s rare that I take time to call attention to these criticisms, sticks and stones may break my bones but, you know the rest; however, Rush, you who kindly called both me and Military Religious Freedom Foundation members liberal pacifists, also asked an important question of me on your radio program last week.
“Who in the world are you, Mikey, to say that our military has to ban religious activity in the Pentagon because it might offend the enemy?”
Well, Rush, exactly who do I have to be and who are you to openly trample on our Constitutional rights?
This has never been a political spectrum left or right issue; it is an issue of what is Constitutionally right or wrong. It is neither my goal nor the goal of my Foundation to “ban religious activity in the Pentagon,” and we certainly do not strive to appease the fundamentalist enemies we are currently fighting.
I am a great believer in the United States Constitution as laid out for us by our Founding Fathers. I am a staunch advocate for both freedom of speech and religious freedom. However, the military, due to its necessarily draconian command structure, is an inherently coercive, adversarial, and ritualistic organization - one that presents situations in which both of these cherished freedoms can easily be abused in the supervisor-subordinate relationship. Given your personal lack of service in our nation’s armed forces, I can partially understand why you might not grasp these basic facts.
Military leadership is required to uphold and abide by military regulations and Constitutional guarantees. Senior officials must strive to serve as exemplars to their subordinates.
Military and civilian personnel are undoubtedly entitled to their own religious beliefs. It is, however, clearly against military regulations and Constitutional guarantees to promote these beliefs during mandatory military meetings and events, while in uniform and on duty. My son and daughter-in-law (both of whom are United States Air Force Academy graduates) found this out when their request to appear in uniform in a documentary film about religion in the military was denied, in writing, by the Pentagon, for fear of government endorsement of their views.
We are not asking for the cessation of bible studies, prayer groups, sermonizing or religious functions before or after military duties have been completed. We are only asking that these religious events not be made mandatory or be thrust by those in the chain-of-command, in the face of subordinates who actively choose not to engage in them. Of equal importance, we are asking military members to not use their official government positions as a platform to preach about their particular biblical worldview.
As a United States Air Force Academy graduate, with a long family history of military combat service, I consider myself a true patriot and a loyal supporter of this country and her values. I have never sought to placate our enemies and did not choose to engage in this fight with that objective in mind. Rather, I took up this cause after hearing innumerable examples of specific Constitutional infractions and of blatant religious bias, from U.S. armed forces and civilian personnel stationed at the 702 U.S. military installations in 132 countries throughout the world.
I firmly believe that the encroachment of religious fundamentalism on our armed forces destroys their ability to successfully serve the American people. Servicemen and women, cadets, midshipmen and civilian personnel are crying out that constant coercive evangelizing and the pressure to adhere to a religion that is not their own, negatively impacts their ability to study, serve and stand together as a cohesive fighting unit in the war we are currently waging.
How can we successfully battle religious fundamentalists overseas who seek the destruction of American ideals, if we carry our own brand of fundamentalism into that war?
It is your support, Rush, for the deliberate erosion of our Constitution that truly emboldens our enemies overseas.
I’ll fight with every fiber of my being for you to have the right to spew your skewed notion of our Constitution. But I also won’t rest until all of our men and women in uniform have the religious freedom our nation guarantees.
Mikey Weinstein MRFF President and Founder
Here’s the transcript of Rush Limbaugh’s original comments, on December 13:
RUSH: Here’s another example, ladies and gentlemen. From the Cybercast News Service: “Pentagon Evangelism Called ‘National Security Threat.’ Christian military officers who share their faith at work in the Pentagon pose a threat to national security, according to a group that advocates for religious neutrality in the military.” Yeah. Religious neutrality in the military. That’s why we have to build separate religious facilities for Muslim soldiers, religious neutrality. Who are these people? Well, stand by. I’ll tell you. “Public displays of faith by high-ranking military officers project an image of a Christian nation waging war on non-Christians, both inside and outside the United States, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation said Monday.”
Now, who the hell are they? And why does anybody care? How does the Military Religious Freedom Foundation get any news coverage? They’re just a bunch of liberals, once again attacking the institution of the US military. The organization’s president is a guy actually named Mikey Weinstein.
He said this created an “internal national security issue every bit as great as the one we’re fighting outwardly.” Listen to this quote. “‘The jihadists, the insurrectionists, everybody from the head of Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, the al-Aqsa martyrs brigades, they see us as invading American imperialists and crusaders,’ Mikey Weinstein told a news conference in Washington, DC. Weinstein is a graduate of the US Air Force Academy who has been critical of proselytizing at the academy, called for an investigation of several officers who appeared in a promotional video for a Christian organization while in uniform.”
Let me just ask you this question. Go at this a different way. How many of you identify right off the bat what is inherently wrong about this whole complaint? You know, here’s the thing, Mikey. And by the way, I’m not calling him Mikey – that’s the name that’s in the story, M-i-k-e-y. Let me just tell you, Mikey, and all the other pacifists like you out there, I personally don’t give a rat’s rear end what Hamas or Hezbollah or the Islamic Jihad or the al-Aqsa Martyr Brigades see in the United States military. I don’t care whether they like the US military or not. The goal of our military is not to make our enemies like us. I can’t believe I’m even having to point this out. The goal of our military is to kill these people before they kill us, Mikey, and our allies.
Now, Mikey, here’s a news flash for you, pal. I don’t like Hamas. I don’t like Hezbollah. I don’t like Islamic Jihad. I don’t like the al-Aqsa Martyr Brigades, I don’t like Al-Qaeda. I don’t like any Islamofascist. I don’t like them! Why isn’t their responsibility, Mikey, to convert me into someone who likes them? Why is the burden on us, Mikey, to make our enemies love us, particularly our military? Our militaries are not emissaries of anything but death and broken stuff. I don’t like these people, Mikey. You know what? I see them as invading, murdering, uncompromising heathens. I see them as the enemy. Mikey, instead of calling a press conference in Washington, DC, why don’t you take your group over there and go meet with Hamas and Hezbollah and the Islamic Jihad, and the al-Aqsa Martyr Brigades, and anybody from Al-Qaeda you can find, and why don’t you convince them that they have to give up their religion in their armies so that we will like them more? Who in the world are you, Mikey, to go on this press conference tour and say that our military has to ban religious activity in the Pentagon because it might offend the enemy?
Would you like to go over and try this on the enemy? Go over there and meet with Hassan Nasrallah. Say, “Hassan, we want to promote world peace here. If you would just drop your religion, get rid of the turban, it scares Americans. They think you’re trying to take over the world with your militant Islamic beliefs. Get your religion out of it, Hassan.” And then tell that to Hamas. And go tell it to bin Laden and al-Zawahiri. No, not going to doing that, we’re going to tell it to the United States, the good guys. We’re going to punish the United States because there are Christian religious people in the Pentagon.