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Bentley Rayburn Defends Religious Freedom For The Military

@MikeyWeinstein defends the indefensible

mrff-prayer

 

As Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput remarked in his Lenten reflection a couple of years ago:

Evil talks about tolerance only when it’s weak. When it gains the upper hand, its vanity always requires the destruction of the good and the innocent, because the example of good and innocent lives is an ongoing witness against it.  So it always has been.  So it always will be.

This is precisely what is going on in a skirmish anti-Chrisitan bigot Michael “Mikey” Weinstein @MikeyWeinstein (what kind of a grown man goes by “Mikey”? Was “Scooter” taken or something?). Weinsten has declared jihad on Christianity in the Armed Forces and has made a damned good living doing it. His fight against religion in general and Christianity in particular let him, in 2012 his hate-fest directed at Christians allowed him to take a salary of over $273,000 from his “Military Religious Freedom Foundation” out of a total of $584,000 raised by that “foundation”.

The Issue

Cadets in the dorms at the US Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs have a whiteboard outside their room door. By Academy policy the cadet can use it for either official or personal messages. One cadet wrote a passage from Galatians 2:20

“I have been crucified with Christ therefore I no longer live, but Christ lives in me,”

Weinstein went bat**** crazy.

“It’s not a gray area, this is absolute misconduct,” he said. “Not only should the cadet be punished but (also) his/her responsible USAFA cadet and officer chain of command who ignored this blatant and egregious violation of Air Force regulation 1-1 and the United States Constitution.”

Keep in mind this is the same guy who demanded the Army court martial the Chief of Chaplains for dedicating a day of prayer (sorry I won’t provide a link to a known hate site).

A group with a federal lawsuit in Kansas alleging widespread religious discrimination within the military called Wednesday for the Army to court martial its chief of chaplains.

But a spokesman said the Army respects soldiers’ right to worship freely “at all times and in all locations.”

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation sought Maj. Gen. Douglas Carver’s ouster on the day Carver designated for prayer and fasting for chaplains. It also was the start of Passover, observed with a ritual meal, or Seder, by Jews.

The Air Force Academy is made of different stuff. The USAFA, which replaced it signature “Bring Me Men” sign with “Bring Me Sensitive Transgendered Eunuchs,” folded like a cheap suit and let a rabid anti-Christian bigot, Weinstein, interpret Academy policy:

The Air Force Academy removed a Bible verse posted on a cadet’s whiteboard after it determined the posting had offended other cadets, a spokesman for the academy said.

The Response

While incumbent GOP US Congressman Doug Lamborn (CO-05) wrote a rather weak letter to the military on the subject, retired USAF Major General Bentley Rayburn, who is trying to get the GOP primary nomination in Colorado’s 5th Congressional District, wrote an op-ed on the subject:

The Constitution is clear, the government cannot restrict your free exercise of religion. Posting a Bible verse on a white board is not like yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater. Nobody can state with a straight face that the act of posting a Bible verse on a white board infringes or damages anyone else’s constitutionally protected individual rights.

Air Force regulations are just as clear. Air Force Instruction 1-1. para 2-12 is without equivocation in stating that Airmen “should confidently practice [their] own beliefs while respecting others whose viewpoints differ from your own.”

The young man or woman who posted this note was affirming his or her beliefs and certainly not being disrespectful of anyone. The university has always been looked at as an institution where young adults come not only to be educated but to wrestle with the important issues of life – particularly what do I believe (about any subject) and why? That process requires the give and take of ideas, even the most important ideas of life – is there a God or not and if there is, has He spoken to me?
To walk away from creating a culture at the Air Force Academy where ideas are expressed, debated, defended and strengthened is to make it a third-rate school, hardly deserving to be called a real university.

None of this is remarkable. The cadet in question didn’t make anyone else adhere to his beliefs and Mr. Rayburn is correct that both DoD and service regulations state that religious accommodation is a bedrock principle and can only be interfered with to the extent that it presents operational or safety issues (for instance, a turban is probably going to interfere with wearing a flight helmet). Chaplains have been a part of US military life since the colonial era as has religious expression while on duty.

@MikeyWeinstein Lies

Weinstein took his hate to the friendly venue of Huffington Post and essentially makes the case that members are only allowed to exercise their religious beliefs outside the duty environment

United States military members should be free to practice their religion, or lack thereof, as they see fit in their private time and in places and manners reserved for such practice and approved by competent military authority so as not to disrupt the critical cohesion, good order, morale and discipline of the unit.

The USAFA response was nonsense. By the logic they use a Jewish cadet would not be allowed to wear a yarmulke, something they are allowed to wear by USAF regulations, if a Muslim or atheist airman was offended. Like the cadet in question, our hypothetical Jewish airman wouldn’t have to proselytize to draw Weinstein’s ire. His very presence would offend. While USAFA and DoD regulations prohibit proselytization by superiors to subordinates, no regulation prohibits someone from being free from offense.

In Weinstein’s laughable screed the misrepresents, out of ignorance or malice, service regulations. He says, for instance,

Likewise, above Rayburn’s cited paragraph 2.12 of AF Instruction 1-1, had he actually bothered to read it, one finds paragraph 2.11, which mandates that all Air Force that leaders “must avoid the actual or apparent use of their position to promote their personal religious beliefs to their subordinates or to extend preferential treatment for any religion. Commanders or supervisors who engage in such behavior may cause members to doubt their impartiality and objectivity. The potential result is a dangerous degradation of the unit’s cohesion, morale, good order, and discipline.”

Clearly, that doesn’t apply to the context at the USAFA because the Academy found that some cadets were “offended” not that the cadet in question was promoting his belief to his subordinates. When read in context with the next paragraph, which Mr. Rayburn cites:

2.12.1. All Airmen are able to choose to practice their particular religion, or subscribe to no religious belief at all. You should confidently practice your own beliefs while respecting others whose viewpoints differ from your own.

Weinstein alleges the Army restricts religious practice:

The Army restricts accommodation of religious practices that might “have an adverse impact on unit readiness, individual readiness, unit cohesion, morale, discipline, safety, and/or health” (AR600-20).

The regulation does nothing of the kind. The quote Weinstein tosses out is prefaced with

b. Relationships between Soldiers of different rank are prohibited if they—

Clearly it does not apply to religious freedom but is part of the Army’s anti-fraternization policy. The regulation, however, is not silent on religion. The actions of the USAFA be illegal under AR 600-20 and a violation of US Army Equal Opportunity policy. It even specifies that prayers are allowed at unit formations.

Bentley Rayburn Deserves Your Support

That Scooter Mikey Weinstein is a bigot and a liar in not news. What is news is that a GOP candidate for Congress has shown the moral courage to confront the current national idol, tolerance, and its evil fellow traveler, secularism, to defend the rights of members of the US Armed Forces to practice their faith openly, unashamedly, and without fear of persecution. In other words, he has proclaimed them to be American citizens.

 

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