Sunday, May 27, 2007

Seperation of Truth and state

RE: Group to Sue Pentagon Over Role in Evangelical Festival

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: Precarious333
Date: May 26, 2007 4:00 PM


This says it all:
In response to the event, Mikey Weinstein, an Air Force veteran and the founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, intends to file a lawsuit against the Department of Defense. He stated: "The participation of the United States Air force and United States Army in a blatantly fundamentalist, evangelizing Christian conversion spectacle represents a veritable unparalleled rape of the US Constitution, which all members of the American military swear an oath to protect, preserve, support and defend. This is an absolutely crystal-clear example of the most pernicious religious predation by the US military command structure, and simply writing letters and making phone calls of protest appear to be as useless as a baseball bat in a football game."

And this:
The Task Force Patriot USA web site states that "Christ is our Commander-in-Chief."





... ... ...





Group Threatens to Sue Pentagon Over Military Role in Evangelical Festival
By Matt Renner
T r u t h o u t | Report

Friday 25 May 2007

A scheduled three-day celebration of the US Air Force's 60th anniversary, sponsored in part by evangelical Christian organizations, has prompted a military watchdog group to threaten legal action against the Department of Defense.

The controversial event, sponsored by Task Force Patriot USA, an evangelical organization, and LifeWay Christian Resources, the publishing house of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), was described by the official publication of the Robins Air Force Base as "an official US Air Force 60th Anniversary event." The paper stated that the religious groups and the United States Air Force "have joined together to create a three-day celebration ..."

Slated for the Memorial Day weekend, the "Salute To The Troops, Memorial Day Celebration" will take place at Stone Mountain, an Atlanta, Georgia theme park. The event is supposed to feature hourly flyovers by Air Force planes and parachute jumps by the US Army's Silver Wings Parachute Jump Team. Scheduled speakers include former SBC President Bobby Welch and US Air Force Major Brian "Jethro" Neal, a B-2 pilot, who will speak during a worship service that was to feature a flyover by a stealth bomber. SBC officials stated that special Bibles for military personnel would be disseminated at the gathering.

Plans for the event prompted a forceful response from watchdog groups. In a letter to Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne and Acting Secretary of the Army Peter Geren, the Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU), said, "There are legitimate ways to celebrate the Air Force's 60th anniversary and to pay tribute to military personnel who bravely serve the nation, but this three-day religious extravaganza is certainly not one of them." Lynn called the event "a stunning display of the federal government using vast resources to trumpet a religious celebration."

Lynn added, "Military personnel and veterans come from many religious traditions and no religion at all. So it is wholly disingenuous for the organizers of this evangelical Christian gathering to promote it as a salute to all our troops. It is anything but."

In response to the event, Mikey Weinstein, an Air Force veteran and the founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, intends to file a lawsuit against the Department of Defense. He stated: "The participation of the United States Air force and United States Army in a blatantly fundamentalist, evangelizing Christian conversion spectacle represents a veritable unparalleled rape of the US Constitution, which all members of the American military swear an oath to protect, preserve, support and defend. This is an absolutely crystal-clear example of the most pernicious religious predation by the US military command structure, and simply writing letters and making phone calls of protest appear to be as useless as a baseball bat in a football game."

In preparation for the lawsuit, Weinstein told Truthout: "I'm advising the DOD to save all their emails and all of their correspondence relating to the planning of this event." He warned the DOD not to "try and pull a Karl Rove and get rid of any of these emails. If that happens, we will move forward with obstruction of justice charges."

Weinstein is intimately familiar with military law. Serving as White House counsel, he defended the Reagan administration during the Iran-Contra investigation. Since he launched his watchdog organization 18 months ago, Weinstein said he has been contacted by more than 4,000 active-duty and retired soldiers, many of whom served or serve in Iraq, who told Weinstein that they were pressured by their commanding officers to convert to Christianity.

"The rise of evangelical Christianity inside the military went on steroids after 9/11 under this administration and this White House," Weinstein said in an interview. "This administration has turned the entire Department of Defense into a faith-based initiative." He recently published a book on the issue: "With God on Our Side: One Man's War Against an Evangelical Coup in America's Military."

The Air Force and Army issued statements amending their previous endorsement and coordination, and scaling back their equipment demonstrations. The statement issued by the Air Force said that it is "not a sponsor" of the event and that the Air Force was "not aware until recently of the religious connotations surrounding Task Force Patriot's participation."

According to Task Force Patriot USA's web site, the organization exists "for the purpose of sharing the fullness of life in Jesus Christ with all US military, military veterans and families." The web site states that "Christ is our Commander-in-Chief."

According to the Washington Post, the Air Force will still participate in the event, but its flyovers "will not be timed to coincide with religious services." Also, according to Air Force representatives, active-duty Air Force officers will not be allowed to wear their uniforms while speaking during the prayer services. It is unclear whether Air Force recruiters will attend as previously scheduled.

The Army has canceled participation of the parachute team and said it is "unaware of any other Army involvement."

Explaining his intentions to file suit against the Pentagon, Weinstein said: "Letter writing and phone calls are just weed-whackers. The only way to rip the roots out of this unconstitutional collusion is to go into federal court and demand remedial action."

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/052507R.shtml

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