I founded the civil rights fighting organization, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), to do one thing; fight those monsters who would tear down the Constitutionally-mandated wall separating church and state in the technologically most lethal entity ever created by humankind, the U.S. military.
Today, we face incredibly well-funded gangs of fundamentalist Christian monsters who terrorize their fellow Americans by forcing their weaponized and twisted version of Christianity upon their helpless subordinates in our nation’s armed forces. Oh my, my, my, how “Papa’s got a brand new bag.”
What’s Papa’s new tactic? You’re gonna just love this! These days, when ANYone attempts to bravely stand up against virulent religious oppression, these monstrosities cry out alligator tears in overflowing torrents and scream that it is, in fact, THEY who are the dispossessed, bereft and oppressed. C’mon, really, you pitiable unconstitutional carpetbaggers? It would be like the utter folly of 1960’s-era southern bigots howling like stuck pigs in protest that Rosa Parks’ civil rights activism is “abusing” them by destroying and disenfranchising their rights to sit in the front seat of buses in Montgomery, Alabama. Please, I beseech you! Let us call these ignoble actions what they are: the senseless and cowardly squallings of human monsters.
Queasy with the bright and promising lights of the cultural realities of the present day, those evil, fundamentalist Christian talibanic creatures and their spiritual heirs have taken refuge behind flimsy, well-worn, gauze-like euphemistic facades such as “family values” and “religious liberty.” These overtly bigoted bandits coagulate their stenchful substances in organizations such as the American Family Association (AFA), the ultra-fundamentalist Family Research Council (FRC), and the Chaplains Alliance for Religious Liberty (CARL). The basis of their ruinous unity is the bane of human existence and progress: horrific hatred and blinding bigotry. However, when the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and others correctly characterize them as “hate groups,” they all too predictably raise a deafening hue and disingenuously bellow mournfully like the world class cowards they are.
Case in point: long-time MRFF foe and fact-challenged Fox News Radio reporter Todd Starnes’ brimstone-tinged, apocalyptic reaction to a simple restatement of Constitutional principles and foundational military professionalism by Lt. Col. Jack Rich of Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
In an email obtained by that “Fair and Balanced” network, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Rich lays out domestic “hate groups,” using a list from the SPLC that categorizes these groups by ideology. Among the named groups are FRC (or as I refer to them, the “Freedom Restriction Conspiracy”) and AFA (referred to by me as the “Anti-Freedom Association”), who are given place alongside Fred “God Hates Fags” Phelps’ Westboro Baptist Church, infamous for its repugnant “Thank God for IEDs” protests outside of armed forces servicemember funerals.
Illustrating the extremist, militant nature of these virulently homophobic organizations’ rhetorically-charged propaganda, the SPLC list notes that “In the words of Focus on the Family founder James Dobson; the battle against gay rights is essentially a ‘second civil war’ to put control of the U.S. government in the right hands, meaning those who reject gay rights.”
The SPLC dossier quoted in Lt. Col. Rich’s letter continues, explaining “The religious right in America has employed a variety of strategies in its efforts to beat back the increasingly confident gay rights movement. One of those has been defamation. Many of its leaders have engaged in the crudest type of name-calling, describing LGBT people as ‘perverts with ‘filthy habits’ who seek to snatch the children of straight parents and ‘convert’ them to gay sex. They have disseminated disparaging ‘facts’ about gays that are simply untrue assertions that are remarkably reminiscent of the way white intellectuals and scientists once wrote about the ‘bestial’ black man and his supposedly threatening sexuality.”
News of Rich’s email comes one week after FRC, AFA, and CARL raised a clamorous, disingenuous hullabaloo over a PowerPoint slide on “Religious Extremism” that lumped “Evangelical Christianity,” “Catholicism,” and “Sunni Muslims” with the Ku Klux Klan, Jewish Defense League, and “Al Quaeda.” You can read MRFF Senior Research Director Chris Rodda’s take on this foolish slide here. The slide, while certainly offensive, was slipshod in style and substantively inaccurate in content. Its impact was certainly paltry and small-fry in comparison to the plethora of fundamentalist Christian outrages including, but not limited to, the “Jesus Loves Nukes”/”Christian Just War” and genocidal “Total War on Islam” presentations that MRFF has broken to international media in the past two years.
CARL head Ron Crews vocally took exception to the presentation, stating, “It is dishonorable for any U.S. military entity to allow this type of wrongheaded characterization.”
Chris Rodda’s response to Crews’ statement was spot-on: “…while Crews and the Catholic archdiocese were clearly outraged that Evangelical Christians and Catholics were in this list, not a word was said about another ‘wrongheaded characterization’ on the slide – the inclusion of Sunni Muslims (about 85% of all Muslims) in the same list.”
Crews’ transparent sin by omission was far from accidental, and the timing of his supposed concern for (actual) “religious liberty” tipped his odious Islamophobic hand. One need only look at the long record of vituperative anti-Muslim hate speech emanating from his intimately close cohort, FRC Executive Vice President and retired Army Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin.
Boykin, a literal Poster Child of pernicious fundamentalist Christian prejudice, in a panel discussion with alleged former Islamic terrorist turned evangelical Christian Kamal Saleem, recently endorsed lunatic tea-bagger Michele Bachmann (R-MN) in her own defamatory, McCarthyite witch-hunt to rid the U.S. government of Americans of the Muslim faith. Boykin claimed that Bachmann and her ilk “are a very small number who are standing on God’s word and because they have the spirit of God, they see this for what it is.” So, Jerry, what actually is “it”? Surely someone of valor can encapsulate “it’ in just a few words. Indeed, as renowned scholar, Boston University professor, historian, retired career Army officer, and my personal friend Andy Bacevich brilliantly opined, “what Americans in the 1950s knew as McCarthyism has reappeared in the form of Boykinism.”
Bryan Fischer of the AFA, another free-range purveyor of fundamentalist Christian supremacy and exceptionalism, also heartily endorses the McCarthyite approach to this cretinistic canard of tortured “religious freedom.” Writing on the AFA blog, Fischer stated “it makes sense to prevent Muslims from serving in the United States military. I would suggest it is folly of an extraordinary magnitude to allow men to wear the uniform who have a sworn, sacred and solemn duty to kill American infidels.”
I told you, my friends. Monsters abound.
Neither MRFF nor any other genuine religious freedom organization of any repute has ever championed – and never would champion – that evangelical Christians, as a whole, should be ousted from the government or the military. We demand only that people of all faiths (or no faith) obey their solemnly sworn oath to the Constitution and follow the military’s regulations regarding religion. Yet it is now MRFF and its allies who, in the blighted and vacuous eyes of the hatemongers represented all too well by the AFA, FRC, and Fox News, are now the true religious “persecutors”? Uh huh. Right. Only to the extent that up is now down, cat is now dog, and rainy day is now sunny day.
We should as a nation effusively applaud Lt. Col. Rich for his absolutely correct characterization of anti-gay religious extremist organizations as “hate groups” with no place in today’s U.S. military. But we are compelled to venture even further. We MUST vigorously support the continuing efforts to expose pathologically anti-gay, Islamophobic, and rabidly intolerant agitators for what they are: die-hard enemies of the United States Constitution. Monsters, one and all. To do any less would be to roll out a red carpet to those who would usher in a blood-drenched, draconian era of persecutions, nationalistic militarism, and superstitious theocracy. Human history is all too festooned and replete with countless examples of such bleak and forlorn tragedies.
If these fundamentalist Christian monsters of human degradation, marginalization, humiliation and tyranny cannot broker or barter your acceptance of their putrid theology, then they crave for your universal silence in the face of their rapacious reign of theocratic terror. Indeed, they ceaselessly lust, ache, and pine for you to do absolutely nothing to thwart their oppression. Comply, my friends, and you, too, become as monstrously savage as are they. I beg you, do not feed these hideous monsters with your stoic lethargy, callousness and neutrality. Do not lubricate the path of their racism, bigotry, and prejudice. Doing so directly threatens the national security of our beautiful nation.
In the stirring words of Elie Wiesel, “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it’s indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it’s indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference.”
Your indifference now to “Papa’s brand new bag” will surely reap the whirlwind as a consequence for the United States of America and its military defenders.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is up against well-funded extremist religious organizations. Your donations allow us to continue our fight in the courts and in the media to fight for separation of church and state in the U.S. military. Please make a fully tax-deductible donation today at helpbuildthewall.org.
Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein, Esq. is founder and president of the five-time Nobel Peace Prize-nominated Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF). He served as a White House counsel in the Reagan Administration and as the Committee Management Officer of the “Iran-Contra” Investigation. He is also the former General Counsel to H. Ross Perot and Perot Systems Corporation. Mikey is an honor graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and a former J.A.G. in the U.S. Air Force. His two sons, daughter-in-law, son-in law, and brother-in-law are also graduates of USAFA. In December 2012, Mikey was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in U.S. Defense by Defense News. He is the author of “With God On Our Side” (2006, St. Martin’s Press) and “No Snowflake in an Avalanche” (2012, Vireo).