By Mikey Weinstein
When I began asking questions about what I saw going on at Colorado Springs in 2004 I never expected that the inquiry would lead me to the horrifying conclusion that our country had been taken over by people who have used our own freedoms to enslave us. But that is what happened. When I began I, like most people, was focused on the personal. I believed that what was happening at the United States Air Force Academy, the harassment of cadets and staff with unwanted evangelism, was limited in scope. As the months passed, however, I found myself forced to constantly reassess my basic assumptions. The logic of events was stark and undeniable. Promises of an open inquiry were ignored; decent and courageous people like former Air Force Chaplin MeLinda Morton were intentionally muzzled to ensure the truth would not be heard and the wrongs righted.
As a Republican and an Academy graduate I find myself in head on conflict with my own oath to protect the Constitution. As a Jew I confronted a situation through ears that still hear the cries of my people walking silently into the brick buildings that would reduce them to ash. I cannot stand still and let that happen to my country.
You know about the law suit we filed; that suit took on the issue directly, based on the1st Amendment Right of members of the military to choose their own spiritual paths, unhampered by those placed in positions of authority and on the basis of the Establishment Clause and Clause Three of Article Six, which prohibit the existence of a national religion. That is what has happened. America now has a national religion whose tenets extend to a foreign policy that sees war in the Middle East as the fulfillment of its core mission . The power block responsible for the take over are now, effectively, in charge of the mightiest weapon the world has ever known, the United States Military.
My law suit was one element in the larger battle to take back America. That might seem excessive or alarmist; I only wish that was the case.
I undertook this campaign to oppose those who were violating the principle of separation of Church and State head on and to make the public aware. I now understand that to undo the damage done Americans must come together to organize the dispersed elements opposing these forces that have gone so far in converting America into a theocracy that substitutes one parochial world view of the Bible as law, displacing the democratic foundation of our nationhood.
Every American should be awake to the real and present threat that the take over of America's military poses to our national security and to each of us personally. America is poised today on the brink of a disaster of global proportions. This situation has been moving towards its own logical conclusion while nearly all of us overlooked the clear and present danger signs posed by the coalition of unlikely forces who have come together in a voracious grab for power. Even those of us who have understood some parts of the larger problem have failed to see the connections. That is the past. Today we need to take action.
Those who have carried out this stealth operation, an imperious fascistic contagion growing for the last 30 years, have an agenda. That agenda demanded their patience. They have been. We must not be patient as we fight back. We must act now.
In late 2005 I founded the Military Religious Freedom Foundation www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org. As I studied what was happening I began to hear from our own noble and honorable sailors, soldiers, marines and airmen from all religious traditions at military bases in the US and all over the world. They all told the same horrifying story; my concerns grew.
Here is what we face.
First, the corporate interests: These for profit businesses have worked to ensure their streams of income, focusing on augmenting their own profits and avoiding liability for the damage they well understood they inflicted on America and to people around the world. To accomplish those ends they developed a collation of think tanks and not-for-profits that justified their actions, using ideas cauterized to make their actions seem plausible.
They knew they needed to change the institutions and expectations of Americans to ensure they would keep control. To that end they employed political operatives to build up the facade of respectability those ideas needed. Think of the Heritage Foundation and the words of such as Ann Coulter, John Fund, and Robert Novak. That facade is what we today know as the NeoConservatives or “NeoCons.” You can think of it as the public relations firm presently employed by those rapacious corporations which work through our government.
The third element, funded in large part by the corporate interests but acting from their own agenda, are those who are now coming out of the shadows. As their power grows their need to remain unseen diminishes. Paul Krugman and others identify these as the Theocons. It was the action of the Theocratic agenda that awakened me to what is happening. These elements are the broad strokes that bring into the light the behind the scenes action that is destroying our nation and the hope for peace and prosperity that has always been so present for Americans.
It is not simple until you understand who and why it has happened. The corporations wanted power and money; the NeoCons were willing to make it happen for power and money. The Theocons, a tool made up of elements from a formerly marginalized and unrespected segment of the Christian community, were able to realize their dreams of power and money by becoming the tool that made the whole possible.
Today the man with his finger on the button, those who will receive the order to strike; many of those who will then be expected to put their lives on the line to carry out American policy; have been molded by the influences of these elements. A power conversion has taken place that has nothing to do with freedom or religion. Many thinkers and writers saw the potential for such a threat over the last several generations. But it is our generation and those who follow who now have no choice but to take action.
Corporate interests and the patient and long range plan of Christian Reconstructionists have made this possible with the cooperation and coordination provided by the NeoCons If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes I would think it was bad science fiction. But when I wake up the nightmare continues. The threats to my family, the rising tide of violence aimed at me and those I love, and those whose courage has drawn them to stand with me affirm the truth of what we confront.
It began in the early 70s with the thought by a small group of Republicans that control of the GOP could be guaranteed by taking advantage of the newly disenfranchised Southern Democrats through elements in the Evangelical churches there. You will recognize the names of those whose plans have been drawn so large today. Karl Rove, Ralph Reed, Pat Robertson, Jerry Fallwell, James Dobson, D. James Kennedy, John Hagee and Jack Abramoff were among them.
Largely credulous and uneducated the evangelical elements that became their raw material contained strains of thinking from individuals like R. J Rushrooney and Gary North. Margaret Mead once said that only a small determined group ever changes things. Ms. Mead was thinking of positive change; she could not have imagined the vision and motives that moved a small group of Baptists to take over the Southern Baptist Convention by stealth to achieve first a power base and to move on from there to apply the same methods to civil government and our military. But that is what happened.
Today the platform of the Republican Party in Texas reflects their goals. These are consistent and explicit, including the substitution of the Bible for the rule of law in America. In their world capital punishment for sodomy, adultery, for unruly children, and the end of free speech are desirable goals mandated by God. Lying to achieve the ends they believe are appointed by an unimaginable vision of God are entirely acceptable.
Paul Krugman said in his article of last week, For God's Sake, “In 1981, Gary North, a leader of the Christian Reconstructionist movement - the openly theocratic wing of the Christian right - suggested that the movement could achieve power by stealth. "Christians must begin to organize politically within the present party structure," he wrote, "and they must begin to infiltrate the existing institutional order." “
Krugman does not cite the documentation of this, though it exists in a letter written by Dr. Steven Hortzel dated March 13, 1990 . The letter exhorts the recipients on how to take over their local Republican precinct. The back of the letter lays out the Platform which includes ending minority status for homosexuals, an end to the right to abortion, the sovereignty of the family instead of having that status rest with individuals, as intended by the rights theory on which America is founded. And most frightening, in their view the Church will control what is and is not a crime. The same letter sports the direction to, “Vote twice on election day.” So much for respect for our law and the institutions of America.
Today the Platform of the Republican Party of Texas reflects that agenda. The goal of the Texas Republican Party is to "dispel the myth of the separation of church and state."
Organizing and planning far in advance with funding provided by corporations through those we now know as NeoCons, they laid out the stealth plan that has been followed until the present day. You can hear this admitted in clips of a tape assembled recently by Dr. Bruce Prescott. The voices of J. R, Rushrooney, now deceased, and Gary North, his son-in-law, say it all.
No rogue elements were responsible for what took place at the Air Force Academy. Funding provided by those major corporations who put us in Iraq to augment their profits and ensure control of oil funded the NeoCons who wrote the orders taking us to the Middle East against all truth; through the same funding source grew the 'religious' institutions that have taken control of our military. To them the separation of Church and State, the first amendment of the Bill of Rights, is a myth like Bigfoot and Paul Bunyan to be dispelled, by their own words.
We can expect violence. The head cleric of St. David's Episcopal Church of Topeka, Kansas came out to support me; five hours later his church was burned to the ground. A synagogue where I spoke was desecrated. My home has been targeted by feces and beer bottles; our tires slashed; dead animals have twice been placed on our front porch. The death threats come in ceaselessly. It is not convenient and safe to confront and defy those in power; I know that but I refuse to back down. They may try to harm me but I will not go quietly; I will be a Jew from the Warsaw Ghetto, not Berlin. I will be an American from Lexington and Concord, not an American from Halliburton and Blackwater.
With all the bad news it is heartening to note that some people are standing up and fighting back. Every day we are joined by more Americans who hear, understand, and come prepared to take action.
Dr. Bruce Prescott moved to Norman, Oklahoma three years ago and started an organization called, “Main Stream Baptists,” that is challenging the primacy of Christian Reconstructionists in the Baptist faith in the same town that supplied those who carried out the take over of the Southern Baptist Convention. When Bush hosts 'religious leaders,' it is those people who receive the invitations.
Next January between 20,000 and 30,000 Baptists from all races will gather. They will be representing hundreds of thousands of Baptists who affirm the original belief that brought Baptists to America, the freedom to worship as they pleased. Together they will forge a New Baptist Covenant making them the largest Baptist group in the United States. The group includes former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton; the announcement took place in Atlanta, Georgia in January of 2007.
Others, secular and religious, for instance the Methodists who stood up to oppose the Bush Library at SMU stand with us.
I cannot emphasize strongly enough that this is not a partisan battle. I am a Republican who had the honor of serving as Assistant General Counsel in the Reagan White House and as General Counsel to two time presidential candidate H. Ross Perot. I am a Jew proud to stand with Christians, Muslims, agnostics and atheists, and others who, like those I just mentioned, are committed to the vision of an America for which generations have laid down their lives. Stand with me on this and you stand with men and women who dreamed a freedom that the real Jesus would have recognized. At the end of the day, it's simply all about just one thing; our beautiful United States Constitution. Each of us free; each of us equal, living lives where we confront not the dead words of the past but the living truth that is tomorrow
That is America and it is worth dying for. As a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, the father of two graduates as well as one current Academy cadet, the brother-in-law of yet another graduate, and the son of a graduate of the U. S Naval Academy I believe in the vision that is America with every fiber of my being.