Friday, July 21, 2006

MRFF Board Meeting Tomorrow

Tomorrow MRFF board members will meet in Chicago to discuss our progress so far and make plans for the future. We've been hard at work educating the public about MRFF's mission but know there's much more to be done.

Since the publication of the Washington Post article last Sunday, we have been flooded with messages from supporters. We received numerous tales of Constitutional violations within our nation's armed forces - all a reminder of why continue our work. These letters are fuel for our fire. Thank you to those who have shared stories.

An update will follow after the weekend.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Albuquerque Journal Column

Ex-Soldier Keeps Fighting for Freedom

By Jim Belshaw

I hadn't talked to Mikey Weinstein in a while. Then Sunday, there he was in the Washington Post, the centerpiece of a 2,600-word story.

He talked about "laying down a withering field of fire and leaving sucking chest wounds." He reflected on Christian megachurches that had given him a label: "Field General of the Armies of Satan."

Never a dull day in Mikey's life.

It has been two years since he started doing battle with the Air Force Academy and now the Air Force itself.It began when one of his sons, the second to attend the academy, just as Mikey had done, told his father that he was tired of being accused of having "killed Jesus Christ."

Mikey Weinstein is Jewish, a former Air Force officer, an attorney in the Reagan White House, a corporate attorney with Ross Perot and a member of a family with a long history at military academies.

He said it's painful to be at war with such institutions.

He has formed a non-profit- the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, its board laden with generals and admirals and combat veterans.

"I designed this foundation for two things- litigation and agitation," he said.

He has sued in federal court in Albuquerque for a permanent injunction barring the Air Force from allowing superiors to proselytize or evangelize lower-ranking service members while on duty.

He says such behavior is pervasive in the Air Force.

"You know, people say there are bad apples in the crate," he said when we spoke on Monday. "But that's not the problem. The problem is the crate is bad."

He succeeded in bringing about new guidelines at the academy, but then found the new rules no better than the old.

He ratcheted up the fight, making formidable enemies along the way- The National Association of Evangelicals, the Alliance

Defense Fund, Focus on the Family.

He said he's had feces and beer bottles thrown at his Albuquerque home; he said tires have been slashed and "I can't go nine days without getting some kind of threat."

But there will be no toning it down, no easing off.

"For the first year I was in this thing, I quote-unquote dialed it back," he said.

No more.

He is routinely depicted as anti-Christian, a charge he categorically rejects.

"I'd be happy to go to (National Association of Evangelicals leader) Ted Haggard's church and tell the 15,000 people in that church what I'm all about," he said. "I'll be the first one to grab an American flag and lead an army against anyone who tries to prevent you from having your religious belief. But not when the government says what that religious belief should be."

His wife, Bonnie, diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and recently with a painful jaw disorder, says there will be no stepping back from the fight.

"The problem was that at no point was there a stopping point, unless you just drop it and run," she said. "But it's not the quality of person I am, nor is it the quality of person my husband is. Stopping wasn't anything we could consider."

He's written a book, filed the lawsuit, travels to fundraisers around the country. In Washington, he found allies in Joseph Wilson and his wife, Valerie Plame, the former CIA agent outed by columnist Robert Novak.

The day we spoke, he said he'd just had a lunch with an old friend, a devout Christian and conservative Republican."He's always understood," he said. "He's always gotten it. He knows the people who try to paint me as a Christian basher are completely wrong."

The fight goes on. There will be no dialing it back.

Monday, July 17, 2006

A Quick Thank You

Many you have already seen the wonderful piece in the Style section of this past Sunday's Washington Post - "Marching as to War" - that profiles my battle against illegal proselytizing in the military and the work of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.

I received many warm words of encouragement and I appreciate all of your support.

If you haven't read it yet - take a look:


Friday, July 14, 2006

MRFF Newsletter

As some of you may know, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation now has a bi-weekly newsletter to keep you posted on the work we're doing. We're currently putting together the next edition - to be released at the end of next week.

We expect that the first newsletter, which went out last Thursday, will be posted on the website shortly.

If you haven't already received the newsletter and would like to be added to the mailing list, please send an email with your request to If you have received the newsletter, please forward it to those who may be interested in supporting MRFF's work.

I'm pleased and excited to have a new way to keep you updated.


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Upcoming Events

The MRFF board members and I have been busy at work preparing for our first board meeting - next Saturday, July 22 - graciously hosted by McGuireWoods, LLC in Chicago. It will truly be a meeting of the minds - a necessary gathering to discuss the important work we have been doing and the important work will continue to do in the future.

I am also busy preparing for our first Chicago fundraising event on Thursday, July 20. Each of these events is a chance to come face-to-face with those who so loyally support MRFF's cause.

Thank you all for your consistent support and words of inspiration.

Continue to check the website and the blog for additional details.

- Mikey

Thursday, July 06, 2006

MRFF Applauds Navy's Ruling in Klingerschmitt Case

Navy Review Finds Chaplain’s Complaint “Without Merit”

ALBUQUERQUE – The Washington Times reported this morning that the Navy had reached a decision in the case of Chaplain Lt. Gordon J. Klingenschmitt, an Air Force Academy Graduate, who had filed a complaint charging that “his commanding officer censored and harassed him by discouraging the use of certain Bible quotations.” A Navy review concluded the Chaplain’s complaint was “without merit.”

Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) founder and president, Mikey Weinstein, released the following statement praising the Navy’s decision:

“The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is extremely pleased with the Navy’s ruling against Chaplain Klingenschmitt’s complaint. We have stood firm in our belief that the Chaplain violated the Constitutional rights of Naval personnel by preaching, at an ecumenical memorial service in 2004, the Gospels – including the Gospel of John, which says that only those who believe in Jesus will have eternal life.

This is the first time that the leadership of a branch of our nation’s armed forces has spoken out against discriminatory prayer at mandatory military formations. The Navy’s decision flies in the face of the Air Force’s continuous violations of the Constitution including their dismissal of charges of coercive proselytizing against former U.S. Air Force Academy Commandant of Cadets, Brigadier General Johnny Weida ,and their revised guidelines on religion that allow for chaplains to publicly pray in Jesus’ name at mandatory military formations and for the evangelizing of subordinate personnel by the senior members of their chains of command.

The Navy’s judgment reveals the travesty of the official findings in the June 2005 Report of Air Force Headquarters Review Group Concerning the Climate at the U.S. Air Force Academy. Page 11 of the report discusses the case of Chaplain Major Warren ‘Chappy’ Watties, who during a ‘voluntary ecumenical’ Protestant worship service, ordered the Cadets in attendance to proselytize those who did not attend. The Chaplain also ordered the Cadets to deliver the message to those who refused to be evangelized that their penalty would be to burn eternally in the fires of Hell. The U.S. Air Force concluded that Chaplain Watties, who was at the time the reigning U.S. Air Force Chaplain of the Year, had done nothing wrong.

This ruling, in which the Navy has taken the position that ‘commanders can influence what chaplains say at public events, such as the memorial event, as opposed to a divine worship service’ should set an example for the other segments of our nation’s military which continue to blatantly violate the United States Constitution.

The Navy’s declaration is a small victory for those of us who continue to work so diligently to defend our Constitution.”


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.