This editorial for Law Enforcement Today is brought to you by a United States veteran.
MINNEAPOLIS, MN – In 1969, Madelyn Murray O’Hare successfully lobbied to remove prayer from public schools. And from that moment on, the assault on Christianity has been running full-speed, while concessions and allowances are afforded to other religions in the name of political correctness.
Christian chaplains in the Army are being corrected for being Christian, but now, City administrators are allowing a mosque to publicly broadcast its call to prayer at least 150 times during Ramadan.
I want you to imagine the following scenario:
It is Holy Week. That is the week, celebrated by Christians around the world, that starts on Good Friday and goes through Easter. It starts with the recognition of Jesus’ triumphal entry to Jerusalem, his arrest, trial, execution, burial and Resurrection.
The location is in a major metropolitan city, anywhere in the U.S. A church in that city requests a noise permit to allow them to broadcast praise music, blaring it out on loud speakers across sections of the city.
The permit is granted. And the church plays Hillsong and Chris Tomlin songs 5 times a day.
How long do you think it would take groups like the ACLU and Freedom from Religion Foundation to start writing letters, making phones calls and filings lawsuits in state and federal courts?
Everyone last one of us know that the above scenario wouldn’t make it past the permit phase, as people would be screaming “separation of church and state” and “but the establishment clause!”
Now, let’s take this hypothetical situation and make it reality, swapping out Holy Week with the month of Ramadan. Exchange Christianity for Islam and church for mosque. Then replace Hillsong and Chris Tomlin music with the adhan (Muslim call to prayer). Leave the permit approval.
That is what is happening in Minneapolis.
“The Muslim call to prayer, known as the adhan, will echo from loudspeakers through parts of Minneapolis five times per day for the entirety of Ramadan in what is believed the be the first time the Islamic call has been publicly broadcast in a major U.S. city.
Last Monday, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) issued a press release claiming victory over Army chaplains at Fort Drum, after videos made by two of chaplains were pulled from a brigades primary Facebook page.
— Mikey Weinstein (@MikeyWeinstein) April 21, 2020
The MRFF, whose name is a bit misleading (could be more aptly called Military Freedom From Religion Foundation), used the following headline as part of their release:
IN RESPONSE TO MRFF’s DEMAND U.S. ARMY’s 10th MOUNTAIN DIV., FT. DRUM, NY SWIFTLY REMOVES PROSELYTIZING VIDEOS FROM OFFICIAL COMMAND FACEBOOK PAGE
“On behalf of MRFF’s 8 active duty Army client complainants in the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, New York, half of whom are practicing Christians, we at MRFF want to thank the Army’s senior leadership for so expeditiously pulling those illicit proselytizing videos off of the official command Facebook page of the 10th Mountain Division Sustainment Brigade.
(Especially the one where a Christian Army chaplain exhorts soldiers to query God as to where God is during this COVID-19 pandemic),” said MRFF founder and president Mikey Weinstein.
To provide a little bit of insight into this organization, they lean heavily on the establishment clause.
But, they also take some liberties with reality when they say, “members of the Armed Forces willingly surrender on a temporary basis certain free exercise rights when it impinges on military discipline and the successful completion of a military objective.”
It is a bit ironic that they would say that while going after chaplains, whose military objective is overseeing the spiritual health and well-being of the soldiers assigned to their units.
So, why exactly was Weinstein targeting these two chaplains? Breitbart reports that he:
“…then sent a demand letter to the commander at Fort Drum claiming the videos violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, the Christian Post noted.
The videos should have been shared on the Fort Drum Chapel page, not the brigade’s main page, the foundation argued.
The alleged violations include Smith discussing the Fort Drum Spiritual Fitness Trail in a video that was posted April 17, saying, ‘You are invited to pray, to pray for the family, to pray for the sick, and to pray for our leaders,’ Fox News stated.
In a second video, she encouraged viewers to visit the Fort Drum Labyrinth and said it was a good place to hear God speak.
The report continued:
Addressing the coronavirus pandemic on April 2, Ingram said, ‘God encourages us not to be dismayed by what we see around us, things we cannot control. We can, however, with the best intel in this moment, place our trust in him, walk forward in his strength, and treat others with kindness.’”
Speaking to Fox News, Mike Berry, a lawyer for the First Liberty Institute, said in response to the MRFF action:
“At a time when our nation is hurting and many feel hopeless, why on earth would Mikey Weinstein attack prayer?” Berry said.
“America has the strongest military in history, but our brave service members are not immune to the havoc COVID-19 has wreaked.”
“I cannot believe the legendary U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division raised the white flag of surrender to an anti-religious freedom zealot.
Every president, from Washington to Trump, has publicly prayed for our military. If the commander in chief can pray, then our soldiers can, too.”
Again, let’s keep in mind what a chaplain’s job is.
According to the US Army Recruiting Command:
“The Army chaplain is a qualified religious leader dedicated to serving Soldiers and families. Chaplains provide ministry worldwide, accompanying Soldiers and families as they carry out their units’ missions in both peace and war.
Chaplains are charged to nurture the living, care for the wounded and honor the fallen.
A chaplain’s mission is to bring Soldiers to God and God to Soldiers. America calls on our Army to fight and win our nation’s wars and Army chaplains are there every step of the way.
Whether in training or operations, Army chaplains represent hundreds of American denominations and faith traditions and fulfill a sacred calling of service captured in our motto, ‘Pro Deo et Patria’ (for God and country).
Join us and have a ministry that embodies global impact, builds up society through individual relationships, and serves others in something BIGGER THAN YOU EVER IMAGINED!
Army chaplains are expected to observe the distinctive doctrines of their faith while also honoring the right of others to observe their own faith.
The Army is a pluralistic environment. Rabbis, ministers, imams and priests serve our Soldiers with conviction and commitment.
While serving their own faith groups in the Army, chaplains also ensure and provide the means for others to observe their own faith in accordance with United States law.”
The Army itself recognizes that its chaplaincy corps exists to bring God to soldiers and soldiers to God.
The Corps’ motto is ‘Pro Deo et Patria’, not ‘Pro Deo et Patria ad Populum Queri de eo Quod Licet Deus” (For God and Country until people complain about God being allowed).
Furthermore, they state that chaplains are expected to observe the distinctive doctrines of their their faith,while honoring the right of others to observe their own faith.
Nowhere in the “offending” videos are soldiers told that their only course of action is to pray to the God of Christianity, whether you believe in him or not.
I remember during my military career, I served in units that had people of all faiths, and some who had no faith. We had a Wiccans, Jews, Muslims, Catholics, Protestants, Atheists and everything in between.
In one particular assignment, our chaplain was Catholic. His name was Major Frederich. He was respected by everyone. He would counsel soldiers of all faith backgrounds.
He would end every counseling session with prayer. He would tell the individual in the room that they did not have to participate, but he was going to pray for them, conversing with the God he believed in.
And guess what? No one was offended. No one went crying to the chain of command. Nobody sought the assistance of an outside interest group. It actually encouraged people to know that someone cared enough about them to pray for them, whether they worshiped the same Deity, a different one or none at all.
Major Frederich was so well loved that I actually asked him to perform my re-enlistment ceremony. He graciously did so. Many people followed my lead, and it began a tradition in that unit. People of all faiths asked the chaplain to conduct their re-enlistment ceremonies.
So, to Mikey Weinstein, I have to ask:
What is your problem? Why are you so adamant about the Christian faith being relegated to a specific page on a website or within Facebook?
Your ‘About’ section on your website does not match up with your ‘Achievements’ section. Even a cursory glance at what you and your organization have “accomplished through all of you demands shows that you have a proclivity to sanction a single faith while advocating for numerous others as well as no faith at all.
And your statement, shown proudly at the top of the page is in contradiction to what you claim to be your mission.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is dedicated to ensuring that all members of the United States Armed Forces fully receive the Constitutional guarantees of religious freedom to which they and all Americans are entitled by virtue of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
But quoting you, Mr. Weinstein:
“When one proudly dons a U.S. military uniform, there is only one religious symbol: the American flag. There is only one religious scripture: the American Constitution. Finally, there is only one religious faith: American patriotism.”
Sounds to me that you are not a fan of any religion once you put on the uniform. That statement alone says everything one needs to know about your mindset and that of your organization.
Let’s be clear. I love this country as much as any one. I am as patriotic as any one.
I proudly served this great nation, and I would have given my life if called on to do so. But, there is a huge difference between love of country and worship of country.
The United States of America is a nation. It is not a religion.
The American flag is one of the single greatest symbols of freedom. It is not a religious symbol to be worshiped.
The United States Constitution (not the American Constitution) is the foundation of the greatest nation on earth. It is not the inherent Word of the Creator of the universe. It is not scripture.
I challenge you to show me how our founders words would indicate otherwise.
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