Monday, July 17, 2006

The military fights to protect our Constitution. Shouldn't they be entitled to freedom of religion?

By Nancy Jane Moore

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation was recently established to fight the ongoing efforts of the religious right to make the military an evangelical Christian stronghold. The group is suing the U.S. Air Force for violations of the First Amendment. According to a website description of the litigation:
The suit seeks to counter attempts, which have persisted for more than a decade, to impose Evangelical Christian beliefs and practices on [Air Force] Academy Cadets. The violations include pressuring non-Evangelical Christian Cadets to listen to proselytizing efforts to forcing them to participate against their will in Evangelical Christian prayers.

Mikey Weinstein, the founder, is a graduate of the Air Force Academy, a former Air Force JAG officer, and a lawyer who once worked in the Reagan Administration. He's also something of a character, at least according to The Washington Post profile on him Sunday.

Weinstein's family is military. His father graduated from the Naval Academy, his brother-in-law, eldest son, and daughter-in-law all graduated from the Air Force Academy, and his youngest son is at the Air Force Academy. That is, this is a family that takes the military seriously.

Weinstein is also Jewish. According to the Post article, he decided to start this organization and litigation after his son came up against repeated and nasty anti-Semitism -- of the "you killed Jesus" type -- at the Academy.

The Post provides a couple of good quotes from Weinstein:
[T]he Christian right wants people to think that separation of church and state is a myth, like Bigfoot.
I will not accept my government telling me who are the children of the greater God and who are the children of the lesser God.
It's good to see more people fighting the influence of the religious right. I'm sure the ACLU and the Americans United for Separation of Church and State -- who have been fighting this battle for years -- welcome the help.

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