No, Christian Post, Mikey Weinstein Was Not Hired by the Pentagon

I saw this at the Christian Post earlier this afternoon:

The Pentagon has hired a Jewish activist who has been outspoken in his opposition to conservative Christianity to serve as a consultant and develop new policies on religious tolerance.

Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, has spoken out against a number of conservative Christian groups, calling them “Fundamentalist Christian Monsters.”

What?! Mikey’s been hired by the Pentagon? No way!

Mikey Weinstein

Then I saw this, also at the Christian Post:

President Obama’s new “religious tolerance” consultant to the Pentagon, Mikey Weinstein, wants Christian military service members who openly talk about their faith in uniform to be charged with treason, which is a crime punishable by death according to military law.

What?! Mikey’s been hired by President Obama? No way!

Also, wha….? The MRFF is a church/state separation watchdog group, not a group that goes after people who pray. You can pray; you just can’t force others to do it with you, as some commanding officers have done in the past. MRFF isn’t trying to indirectly kill Christians, no matter what they want you to think.

But I was surprised about Mikey getting hired. I figured I would have heard something about it if it had happened.

So I called him up a few minutes ago.

It was a short, frenetic conversation that involved him explaining how certain groups are after him for all sorts of reasons, including his Jewish name and what MRFF fights for… but he told me he was not, in fact, hired by the Pentagon or Obama.

So where did they get that information from?

Breitbart, he said. The right-wing website, home to conspiracy theories and slimy attacks on anyone associated with the liberal cause.

Sure enough, this is what Liberty University School of Law professor Ken Klukowski wrote:

Weinstein will be a consultant to the Pentagon to develop new policies on religious tolerance, including a policy for court-martialing military chaplains who share the Christian Gospel during spiritual counseling of American troops.

How’s that for spin? Saying that military chaplains shouldn’t proselytize during their counseling of troops (certainly, not non-Christian ones) somehow became an attack on military chaplains.

Here’s the truth: Government officials met with Mikey recently to hear about why officials who proselytized to their subordinates needed to be punished. That’s all. They listened to what he had to say. They didn’t even take any action on it — yet. But that got spun into how the Pentagon hired some anti-Christian hate group leader.

To alleviate that concern, here’s what Mikey said about the proselytizing in a recent Huffington Post piece:

Neither MRFF nor any other genuine religious freedom organization of any repute has ever championed — and never would champion — that evangelical Christians, as a whole, should be ousted from the government or the military. We demand only that people of all faiths (or no faith) obey their solemnly sworn oath to the Constitution and follow the military’s regulations regarding religion.

Sounds like what the military should be doing already.

The article is blunt and provocative, as is much of what Mikey writes, but it’s certainly not suggesting that anyone should be punished or put to death for being a Christian.

Mikey wasn’t hired by the Pentagon. That’s a lie. Mikey doesn’t want Christians killed or punished for practicing their faith. That’s also a lie. What he wants is for our military to follow our Constitution.

Because of the rumors and articles, he’s getting all sorts of crazy threats, which he passed along to me. (I’ve blacked out the senders’ email addresses.)

I included that last one because, death threats aside, saying “I will have my troops pray for you also” is exactly the sort of sounds-fine-but-totally-isn’t thing that Mikey is trying to stop. You can’t tell your troops to pray when you’re a commanding officer. It’s an abuse of position that has no place in our military.

I asked Mikey if he had anything else to say to the people spreading these lies about him. He said he had five of them:

“Tell it to the judge.”

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.