Mikey Weinstein's War With Dominionist Christianity
DonByrd printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Apr 26, 2007 at 04:06:16 PM EST
Actually, what he called it, in a recent Air Force Academy debate with Jay Sekulow, is his war with "premillennial, dispensational, reconstructionist, dominionist, evangelical, fundamentalist Christianity," but this site won't allow a title that long, snappy as it would have been.

Via Melissa Rogers, the audio is now available from that debate. Weinstein heads the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and has been a leader in uncovering instances of improper proselytizing at the Academy from which he himself graduated. The entire event is a good listen, if you've got an hour or so. The topic was: "What is the appropriate balance between religious freedom and official neutrality in the military?" My rough transcription of Weinstein's opening remarks, in which he so describes his opponent, is in the extended entry below:

I'd like to thank all of you for coming through this absolutely wretchedly hideous weather, and I'm delighted to be able to be here. It's the first time - I spoke here many times in the past in my years at the White House, and other times, but this is the first time since I've been in this war. And you know, I come to you today as somebody's son; I'm somebody's husband; I'm somebody's father and somebody's uncle. My youngest son - who God-willing will graduate in the event in May - is the 6th member of my family to attend this school. My older son and his wife both graduated. My brother-in law, my brother went here. This place for me is the most important thing in the world to me, other than being a husband, or a son, a father or an uncle. Having to take on my school and take on this fight has been bitter for me and bitter for my family.

Let me tell you what I'm about. There is alot of misperception, and I can tell you that being here today this is the first time that our two sides - the legions that I lead, and the legions that Jay leads - have ever had any interface. It's been a long hard battle. This is a very short period of time - we have 600 seconds to open up, 300 seconds for rebuttal, then 300 seconds for closing. I can tell you what I am not about is trying to eliminate anyone's religious faith or taking religion out of the military. We have thousands of chapels and thousands of chaplains in the US military. My wife and I were married at the one right down there, the largest University cathedral in the world - the first, I think only, jewish wedding ceremony in the history of the protestant chapel. We are not about that. What we are about is making sure during the duty day and duty night nobody is involuntarily forced to accept another religious faith.

Now I know I'm at war, and my legions are at war. We are not at war with Christianity and we are not at war with evangelical Christianity. Ah, but we are at war with a subset of evangelical Christianity with a long technical name that I hope won't take the rest of my time. I'll say it just one time today: it's premillennial, dispensational, reconstructionist, dominionist, evangelical, fundamentalist Christianity. I know it's a long name. We'll just call them Bob.  Dominionist Christianity - the leaders you know very well: Robertson, Dobson, used to be Haggard - he's had a career change - D. James Kennedy, John Hagee, alot of people that I won't be going out to dinner with, and for a long time.

Ultimately what we have now in America - when this thing started at the AFA I thought that this was something that would be, you know, a Tiger Woods 2-inch putt to fix. Little did I know that it was something that is actually plaguing, in a massive way, our entire Pentagon. We now have 737 US military installations that the Pentagon acknowledges - it's actually closer to 1,000 - in 132 countries around the world and in everyone of them there is a presence of the Officers Christian Fellowship for the officers and Christian Military Fellowship for the enlisted. I'm sure some of you are here today. Now, the goals of these organizations are fascinating, and they're unabashed about it, and they view it as a higher goal than the oath they took, many of them here, to support and defend, protect and preserve the Constitution of the United States, which is our social contract, and was the very first time in human history that a governing document for a nation-state did not invoke the name of a specific deity.  

The first goal is they want to see a spiritually transformed US military - I'm not done, goal number 2 - with ambassadors for Christ in uniform, and, number three, empowered by the holy spirit. My problem is the "in uniform" part and the "during the day" part.

March 1789, the Constitution finally is running our country. December 1791, the Bill of Rights is passed. The Bill of Rights contains of course the First Amendment, which has those 16 golden words which sets up the dynamic tension between the Free Exercise clause and the Establishment Clause.

I'm sure that my friend Jay has a different pespective about this concept of separation of church and state. But I'm gonna tell you from my perspective - we don't have time to put on evidence today - it exists. I view it as the separation of supernatural and natural, and the technologically most lethal organization ever created by homo sapiens, which is our honorable and noble US military. I am sad to report to you today as I come to you with the gun smoke in my face from this battle, that that wall is nothing but smoke and debris.

Now, I'm gonna tell you something, whether or not the military wants to accept it or not, and I'm a Republican but I've given up on the Republican Party becasue I believe that under Republicans, man exploits man, but under Democrats it's just the opposite. So I've decided to go with the federal courts.
The US military is going to be constrained by our law and our Supreme Court and our federal decisions at least to the same degree that a shift manager at Starbucks, Wendy's, Walgreens, Chipotle or Costco is. If you want to see a Fortune 1000 CEO brought to his or her knees, ladies and gentlemen, cadets, officers, enlisted, members of the public, have the most junior employee in the mail room say "Stop. I'm getting me a lawyer, because I'm being evangelized in the workplace." That is a killer lawsuit speaking as a litigator. That is a killer lawsuit under Title VII of the US Code, even without specific intent. Disparate treatment versus disparate impact.

But in the US military it's a trillion times worse. That isn't just your shift manager, that's you're military superior. We have the Uniform Code of Military Justice. We have this concept we call the "Draconian specter of command influence". In the Pentagon we actually have regulations that prevent superiors from pushing Amway, Mary Kay Cosmetics and Tupperware on subordinates. And yet it's happening. Thousands have come to our foundation - sailors, soldiers, marines and airmen. Here's the sea-change for you. 96% are Christians - 3/4 traditional protestants - presbyterians, Lutherans, Methodists, Assemblies of God, Church of Christ, even Baptists. 1/4 are generally Roman Catholic. 4 or 5 percent will be Jewish like I am, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Wiccan, atheist, agnostic.

It's basically dominionist Christianity praying - p-r-a-y, ladies and gentlemen, and p-r-e-y, on non-evangelical Christians saying, you know what, you're not Christian enough. We don't see that personal relationship with Jesus Christ. As a result you're going to burn eternally in the fires of Hell, along with the Jews.  I don't have time to tell you all the thousands of cases. But they're stunning and they're startling - from generals to privates; from basic airmen to colonels. But I can tell you one thing - I've had alot of people try to get me to stop doing this. My family and I get routinely death threats, that just comes with the nature of the territory. I got one today at 12:16 at the Broadmore - telling me that my red blood would stain the white snow here. I had to call the office to see if it was actually snowing. Now I know.

But I can tell you something. They've said to me: Mikey look if you've got the cure for cancer, wouldn't you want to give it to our members of the military? We have the cure for cander, Mikey, don't you understanad that.You're a republican, you're a graduate, my God what's wrong with you? Strong military tradition in your family. Three generations of military academy graduates, 120 combined years in my immediate family of combined active-duty military service in every major combat engagement this country's been in from World War I to the current so-called "global war on terror." Come on, Mikey what's wrong with you? They don't even realize that by asking that, they're insulting my faith and the faith of anyone who's not a dominionist Christian by calling us a cancer. So what I've said is, look. I try to explain the basics. We talk about the Constitution. We talk about Clause III, Article VI of the body of the Constitution, where our founding fathers were so prescient that they stated we will never have a religious test for any position in the US government.

And where were we all, ladies and gentlemen, on Tuesday, July 12, 2005, when on the front page of the NYTimes, the paper most reviled by the Pentagon, the number two ranking chaplain in the US Air Force of the thousands of chaplains and members of that corps, Brigadier General Cecil R. Richardson made the amazing statement that it was now Air Force policy to reserve its right to evangelize anyone that it determines to be un-churched. My wife and I raised the hens. We have three kids in the US Air Force - 2 of them graduates, one at the Academy. Do our kids fall in this Richard-Nixon-era enemies list of being unchurched? And if so, we now demand, Air Force, are you going to exercise your reserved right to evangelize them? For 88 days they wouldn't answer. We sued them on the 89th day. We'll be going back to the federal courts soon.

Most of America is docile and supine. I would ask you to please consider looking at the facts here. We're talking about when you're in a situtation where even if you're being gently evangelized by a military superior, if you are a subordinate, "get out of my face, sir or maam" is not an option for you. It's not an option. And it's rarely a superior officer looking oyou directly in the face saying "you need to get right with Jesus" You know what I'm talking about - you're mostly a military audience. It's the tacit nuance. It's always the tacit nuance.

Benjamin Fanklin was the rock star of his day. He walked out of the Constitutional Convention besieged by American citizens: "Mr. Franklin, Mr. Franklin, what type of government have you bequeathed to us?" His response? "A republic, if you can keep it." Ladies and gentlemen, please help me keep the republic.

[Cross-Posted from the Baptist Joint Committee Blog]

As a 1980 USAFA grad I am very interested in how this all turns out.

by SharonB on Fri Apr 27, 2007 at 12:04:19 PM EST

First the Academy then the Pentagon.

Weird times ahead if this trend is not checked.

by Shockwave on Fri Apr 27, 2007 at 12:41:11 PM EST

Weinstein, 25:00-30:15 in the debate with Sekulow at the Air Force Academy:

"I  didn't expect to like Jay, I think he looks a lot like Dustin Hoffman. And, I know he's a Messianic Jew but my Judar went off, and he's a  good Jewish boy - I could the moment I met him.

["my mother thinks so", quips Sekulow]

My response is ( and I  can see the minutes are typing, uh, coming down, so I wish we had more time ) my response to my Jewish brother Jay  is sir, - Toto - we're not in high school anymore. This is the US Force Academy. It's not Baylor, it's not Notre Dame, and I don't - I may be wrong - I don't believe you've ever served in the US armed forces. I don't say that pejoratively, or, either, pedanticly.

It's very different, in your first thirty seconds, when you come off the bus here at the Air Force Academy. It's very, very different. This is not a civilian organization. It's not Lincoln High School. And, you know what ? In our military, many of our constitutional rights are intentionally and necessarily truncated and taken away so that we can both preserve the higher concept of good order and discipline to create a lethal military to protect the full panoply of  constitutional rights for the rest of us.

We had a situation, with Goldman vs. Weinberg, where there was a Jewish gentleman who  wanted to wear a yarmulke, and that was found to be prejudicial to good order and discipline. Later on Congress did something with it, but it's still good law. You can't wear that yarmulke - it messes up good order and discipline.  2003, Mellon vs. Bunting, Virginia Military Institute. The ancient supper time secular prayer given to the cadets, was found by the Fourth Circuit, not the crazy Ninth Circuit - the liberal Ninth Circuit in California where I'm a lawyer, I'm also a lawyer in Washington DC. And here's their words, my brother Jay : Being at a military academy, it's an adversarial, communal, ritualistic environment. We believe that even a secular prayer, from what would be the staff tower in Mitchell Hall, the gun facility, exacts an unconstitutional toll among upon... among those who are not believers. Toto, we're not in high school any more.

One other thing that I'd like to mention is that we have 29 and 1/2 million Americans that profess no faith whatsoever: atheists, agnostics -  whatever you want to say - they should enjoy the feel rights that we have.

But, you know something ? In 1947, Curtis E. LeMay, the famous, legendary general, founded the, you know - one of the leading fathers of the Air Force (course, the legendary commander of the Strategic Air Command) created something called "The Little Blue Book" - how people out there know the "Little Blue Book", of core values ? That's embarassing that you don't know that. That's the core, not peripheral values of the US Air Force. In 1947, that said that's what we're all about; this is what we're all about. 50 years later, in 1997, because airplanes were falling out of the sky, there was contractor ethical ssues, the Air Force was coming to pieces.... they amended the CORE values. Not just integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do. This was a CORE vaue:

Here's what it says, and it still says it : "religion is a matter of individual conscience. Military professionals, including chaplains and especially commanders, must never take it upon themselves to try to coercively influence or change the religious views of subordinates."

What you do when you have a 3 star general that's ordering his staff to put together a Powerpoint presentation showing the direct parallels between the Book Of Revelation and all of our movements in the AOR ? (  for you civilians - area of responsibility, Iraq and Afghanistan )

What do you do when have a four star general who favors the distribution of a pamphlet in his commander's building,  his palace, advertising, at an off-base, at an mega-evangelical church class, quote "Jesus vs.Mohammed, An Examination of The Life of Both Prophets and Why  Jesus is Superior To All" ?

Why was the most popular joke here at the Air Force Academy in 2004 "Why do Jews make the best magicians ?" Anyone know ? Show of hands ? We make the best magicians, apparently because we have the magical ability to walk into a red brick building and come out the smokestacks in a puff of smoke.

The matriarch of my family passed away, in Albaquerque, in 1991. She was very old. She said to me "Mikey, don't give up this fight". She was a Holocaust survivor, Speilberg took her testimony for four hours. "Don't give up the fight", and I said "I won't, aunt Grady, I heard you." But I asked her a question. I asked her one single question. "Why were you so mad at the family when we took your driver's license away ?" She was 88 when we took it away. She was really, seriously frikkin' pissed. We knew she only had a few days to live. She got up off her elbows, and I can't affect her Berlin, her German accent. She pointed at me, 91 years old, six days away from death, anbd she said, "Because when you're a Jew, you always have to be ready to get away. " 91 years old.

We're not getting away, this is our country. With a beautiful constitution that represents everything that we're about. It doesn't matter ; we beat Tojo, Hitler, and Mussolini, in 44 months, without becoming Tojo, Mussolini, and Hitler. We don't have to become the Christian Taliban to win this one. "

by Bruce Wilson on Fri Apr 27, 2007 at 06:32:30 PM EST

For more typing. I initially intended to transcribe much more of it, but wow did I ever gain new respect for transcriptionists... I type slow. Mikey talks fast...not a good combination. Will try to post more in a diary over the weekend. But I was especially hoping to get this first rebuttal you transcribed here - in which he explains to Jay the difference between high school and a military academy. It's worth reading/listening to.

by DonByrd on Fri Apr 27, 2007 at 07:08:34 PM EST
could divide up the transcription:-)

by Frederick Clarkson on Sat Apr 28, 2007 at 12:22:07 AM EST

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