Ken Klukowski is Director, Center for Religious Liberty at Family Research Council. This article appeared on Breitbart.com, June 2, 2013.
One month ago the Pentagon assured the public it was not being advised by anti-Christian extremist Mikey Weinstein. Yet two days ago Weinstein called the Pentagon demanding that a Christian painting be removed from a dining hall in an Idaho Air Force base, and the Pentagon complied with his demand--in less than one hour.
On Apr. 28, Breitbart News reported that Pentagon brass met with Weinstein and his Military Religious Freedom Foundation. That was shortly after Weinstein published an article in which he called observant Christians "fundamentalist monsters" who seek to impose "a rapacious reign of theocratic terror" in the military through their "putrid theology."
While he opposes all religion in the military, Weinstein reserves his most caustic language for observant Christians. And the one thing he objects to above all things is proselytizing in the military, which Christians call evangelism.
Regarding evangelism, Weinstein told the Washington Post that, "What is happening aside from sexual assault is spiritual rape. And what the Pentagon needs to understand is that it is sedition and treason. It should be punished." (Emphases added and brackets omitted.)
Weinstein said service members who evangelize in the military should be court-martialed, and added, "You need a dozen court-martials real quick." A court martial is a criminal prosecution in the military, which depending on the crime can carry punishments ranging from fines, to expulsion from the military, to imprisonment. In case anyone missed the point, he also said, "We would love to see hundreds of prosecutions."
It must be noted that the Pentagon says it would not take this drastic step called for by Weinstein. It should also be noted, however, that the Pentagon continues to change its story on what its policy is on evangelism.
Nevertheless, the latest example of Weinstein's influence with the Obama-Hagel Pentagon came last week, as reported by Fox News' Todd Starnes. In the dining hall of Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho there was a painting-style picture of a U.S. Airman with imagery of the cross, above the word "Integrity" and with a reference to Matthew 5:9. (That verse reads, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.")
Weinstein called the Pentagon directly to complain about the picture. Less than one hour later, the picture was permanently removed.
Col. Christopher Short, the base commander, told Fox News the artwork was removed because, "We make reasonable accommodations for all religions and celebrate the religious diversity of our Airmen." It's an odd statement to say that accommodating religion and celebrating diversity means tearing down Christian artwork.
Weinstein has previously boasted that he has special status with the leadership of the Air Force Academy similar to the "bat signal" from Batman. He explains that:
... he and Superintendent Lt. Gen. Mike Gould devised a code word only they know in case Weinstein needs to reach Gould with concerns about religious liberty on campus. "We have our own bat-signal," Weinstein said Friday, referring to the beam of light used to summon Batman in the DC Comic series.... Having a means to reach Gould with any concerns is a positive step in the work to make the academy religiously neutral ground, he said. "We had a bad 96-hour period where I felt like we had fallen back to the bad old days," he said. "Our relationship [now] is stronger than ever."
Given Weinstein's published anti-Christian statements, his relationship with top military officials should raise eyebrows.
And it has done so on Capitol Hill. After Breitbart News' reporting on this relationship, 59 congressmen sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel demanding to know who approved these meetings and what was discussed. A group of 72 congressmen then sent asecond letter demanding to know what the Pentagon is doing to protect the First Amendment rights of service members.
Also last week, one of Weinstein's staff members published a column denigrating Congress' efforts, and mocking Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) for coauthoring with Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) the letter signed by 59 Members of Congress. Taunting congressional leaders who are probing this situation may provoke lawmakers to amend federal law to clarify and reinforce service members rights regarding sharing their faith.
The Obama-Hagel Pentagon insists that it would never court-martial a Christian for sharing his faith, but fails to explain why it would accept advice from someone aggressively demanding that action. The Pentagon also claims that Weinstein cannot be called a consultant because he's not paid for his advice and holds no official position. Yet the dictionary defines a consultant as, "a person who gives professional or expert advice." There is nothing about having an official status or getting a paycheck.
Mikey Weinstein has been meeting with top Pentagon officials during the Obama administration since 2009. He continues to communicate with them at will, and they immediately respond to his demands. He is therefore an unpaid advisor to the Obama-Hagel Pentagon, with considerable influence.
Not only that, but it's been more than two weeks since roughly 100 congressmen demanded answers from Hagel, but have not heard a word in response. Yet this anti-Christian extremist brags about how the Pentagon leaps into action when he makes a demand, removing Christian artwork in less than an hour.
Lawmakers are likely to intensify their efforts to find out what's going on here, and what they can do to stop this assault on Christians in the military.