Mikey Weinstein Makes a Call. Air Force Academy Makes “So Help Me God” Optional.

Deacon Greg has the story.

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Mikey Weinstein, former legal counsel to the administration of President Reagan, has scored what I would imagine is to him another big victory. Thanks to a phone call from Mr Weinstein, the Air Force Academy has made the phrase in its oath “so help me God” optional.

Just in case someone might be tempted to mistake Mr Weinstein for a civil libertarian, let’s consider an article I discussed earlier that he wrote for the Huffington Post:

Ladies and Gentlemen, let me tell you of monsters and monstrous wrongs. And let me tell you what these bloody monsters thrive on.

I founded the civil rights fighting organization the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) to do one thing: fight those monsters who would tear down the Constitutionally-mandated wall separating church and state in the technologically most lethal entity ever created by humankind, the U.S. military.

Today, we face incredibly well-funded gangs of fundamentalist Christian monsters who terrorize their fellow Americans by forcing their weaponized and twisted version of Christianity upon their helpless subordinates in our nation’s armed forces. Oh my, my, my, how “Papa’s got a brand new bag.”

What’s Papa’s new tactic? You’re gonna just love this! These days, when ANYone attempts to bravely stand up against virulent religious oppression, these monstrosities cry out alligator tears in overflowing torrents and scream that it is, in fact, THEY who are the dispossessed, bereft and oppressed. C’mon, really, you pitiable unconstitutional carpetbaggers? It would be like the utter folly of 1960′s-era southern bigots howling like stuck pigs in protest that Rosa Parks’ civil rights activism is “abusing” them by destroying and disenfranchising their rights to sit in the front seat of buses in Montgomery, Alabama. Please, I beseech you! Let us call these ignoble actions what they are: the senseless and cowardly squallings of human monsters.

Queasy with the bright and promising lights of the cultural realities of the present day, those evil, fundamentalist Christian creatures and their spiritual heirs have taken refuge behind flimsy, well-worn, gauze-like euphemistic facades such as “family values” and “religious liberty.” These bandits coagulate their stenchful substances in organizations such as the American Family Association  (AFA), the ultra-fundamentalist Family Research Council (FRC), and the Chaplains Alliance for Religious Liberty(CARL). The basis of their ruinous unity is the bane of human existence and progress: horrific hatred and blinding bigotry. However, when the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and others correctly characterize them as “hate groups,” they all too predictably raise a deafening hue and disingenuously bellow mournfully like the world class cowards they are. (Read the rest here.)

That, my friends, is hate speech directed at Christians. It is the same kind of hate speech that has preceded overt discrimination and violent persecution of groups of people all over the world. It says all anyone needs to know about Mr Weinstein, his organization and their goals.

Predictably, Mr Weinstein is not satisfied with making “so help me God” optional. He wants the phrase removed from the oath altogether. Also predictably, he claims that his motivations are based on his desire for “freedom.”

From the Associated Press:

DENVER (AP) — Air Force Academy cadets are no longer required to say “so help me God” at the end of the Honor Oath, school officials said Friday.

The words were made optional after a complaint from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, an advocacy group, that they violated the constitutional concept of religious freedom.

Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson said the change was made to respect cadets’ freedom of religion.

The oath states, “We will not lie, steal or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does. Furthermore, I resolve to do my duty and to live honorably, so help me God.”

Cadets are required to take the oath once a year, academy spokesman Maj. Brus Vidal said.

Mikey Weinstein, founder and president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, welcomed the change but questioned how it will be applied.

If the person leading the oath includes the words, cadets who choose not to say them might feel vulnerable to criticism, he said.

“What does it mean, `optional’?” Weinstein said. “The best thing is to eliminate it.”

Vidal said the oath is led by the Cadet Wing honor chair, a student, and that person will also have the option to use or not use the words.

Academy officials did not immediately return a follow-up call seeking comment on Weinstein’s question.

  • pagansister

    Though I disagree with the words and tone of Mr. Weinstein’s rant in the Huffington Post, I agree that repeating the words “so help me God” at the end of the Honor oath should be optional, as everyone who is sworn into the military or one of it’s academy’s isn’t necessarily a believer in a higher power of any kind. If a person joining the military or one of the military academies is intimidated into saying it, then what are they doing joining the military at all? Even though the military depends on group/team work and following orders is the basis of that team work, it shouldn’t require a religious belief. That should be a personal choice.

  • FW Ken

    Did you post something about this bit of secularist goodness?

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/deaconsbench/2013/10/flush-with-bigotry-florida-professor-compares-a-priest-to-a-toilet-because-theyre-both-full-of-s/

    Anyone who hasn’t read Philip Jenkins’ Anti-catholicism: the Last Acceptable Prejudice should do so. Like Pedophiles and Priests, it provides fundamental information on the topic at hand.

  • stlouisix

    I have a question for the Godless Mikey Weinsteins of the world who, in their attempt to eradicate the name of God from the world’s vocabulary, believe that the atheistic worship of the state is to be recommended over an appreciation of a “higher” or “natural” law as the foundation for the rights that government ought to secure for the common good. The latter is a concept that can be readily appreciated in the American experience given The Preamble to the Declaration of Independence, which states:

    When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to
    which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

    What is the Natural Law? It is something above power or force that gives content to the notion of justice. This is a notion, which in turn, suggests that there is a higher law or a “natural law” by which the positive law of the state is to be measured and judged, e.g., slavery was ultimately abolished in America because of the recognition of this “higher law”. Thomas Aquinas sets the most famous variation of this approach to a higher law in his Summa Theologica. His “Natural Law” is a participation in the wisdom and goodness of God by the human person, formed in the image of the Creator. It expresses the dignity of the person and forms the basis of human rights and fundamental duties. It is a key to understanding the foundation of political authority in the recognition that Positive law ultimately derives its authority from the foundation of what is right by nature. This was the approach later used by Martin Luther King, Jr. in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, which contains references to Aquinas.

    Simply put, “What has ‘state worship’ done for us lately?” We only have to look at recent history for an answer. We saw the deaths of six million Jews and twenty million Ukrainians in the concentration camps and gulags of Hitler and Stalin respectively. Today we see the killing of fifty million innocents and counting in what should be their safest place of refuge, their mothers’ wombs, sanctioned by the state because America ignored the truth of the Natural Law and its Author in the Roe vs. Wade decision.

    Caution is advised since if the state is the final arbiter of the law, the sole dispenser of rights, we’re in big trouble given the lessons of history. The state can easily take these rights away with catastrophic consequences. This is inevitable when each man is a universe unto himself, courtesy of Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, which ignored a very important question. What happens when each citizen’s “personal universe of rights” collides with another’s? In the absence of some absolute, immutable, higher law, knowable through reason, and not just faith, we’re left with anarchy.

    But more to the point, the traditionally recognized goal of a respected political regime as opposed to a tyrannical one is working toward the common good. Does killing our children when they’re most vulnerable, and promoting aberrant behavior that leads to physical ruin, meet that goal?

    The fact is that ignorance of the necessity for human law to be rooted in the Natural Law has led to the major ills plaguing society today. This has nothing to do with erroneous connotations of “tending to a theocracy” in the sense of a
    state religion based on the Christian God. It has everything to do with common sense and the rule of right reason. This is obvious to any Christian who knows that God’s supreme gift to us at creation was the opportunity to choose Him freely.

    Interestingly enough, those decrying theocracies have no problem whatsoever accepting a “state religion of amorality”, which is promoted by demagogues who won’t stand for any opposition. This is the current state of affairs in a “politically correct” but “morally bankrupt” America for which we can thank the example of the “adolescent-in-chief”, whose main claim to fame is making the country more comfortable with its vices.

    So our response to the Mikey Weinsteins should be the following.

    “Freedom from religion” is nowhere found in The Constitution which guarantees “freedom of religion” to especially include those who are comfortable with oaths based on a belief in God and whose rights are not trumped by those who don’t!

    Those who are living The Declaration of Independence’s many references to the Almighty are not obliged to stop doing so due to those who are in a fit of pique because they do.

    Accordingly, people of faith do not have to shut up due to anyone’s complaints, especially those of pouting atheists, as where is it in The Constitution that people of faith have to shut up to accommodate the Godless?

    I’ll save you some time. It’s not there! How could it be given that America was founded upon a belief in the “laws of nature, and of nature’s God” necessary for the promotion of the common good, read America’s survival, per The Declaration of Independence, a Declaration that, in its conclusion, called upon the protection of God for its support?

    If atheists have a problem with the founding documents of this country recognizing the importance of God, then that’s tough! Their rights STOP when they collide with the rights of believers who are not obliged to kowtow to their demands, PERIOD!

    • pagansister

      Should a cadet be forced or required to say those words even if he/she doesn’t personally believe in God? To me that is worse, because they are mouthing words that they do not mean as they do not feel a need to ask for help from a higher power. One can have honor without a faith or belief in a supreme being. This is America and there is the right to either follow or not to follow a faith. As I already mentioned below, I find the words offensive that Weinstein wrote, but I feel a cadet/soldier should not be required to say words they do not believe in regarding a belief in God.

      • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

        I would like to make one point that should matter to a Christian, and perhaps even to a Pagansister, if not to a Weinstein. The man is obviously insane. You cannot read three sentences of his speech without realizing that he is quite literally mentally ill. And by allowing him to go on with his pseudo-political crusade, which is in effect nothing more than the acting out of the symptoms of mental illness, the leading figures in this country are encouraging a man to drive deeper and deeper into mental illness. To a Christian this means that the Obamas and their courtiers, for whatever perverted and despicable reason, are encouraging the ruin of a soul. Allow me to remind you that there is nothing nice, romantic or heroic about mental illness. It is ugly, ruinous, small, constrictive, and often ends in death – the number of mentally ill people who commit suicide is horrifyingly high.

        We should not be repelled at the behaviour of this sick person, but we should be disgusted and furious at those who make use of him and hide behind him.

        • pagansister

          If he is indeed mentally ill, it makes no change in my opinion that that phrase should be anything but optional at the end of the honor oath. If he is indeed mentally ill, then hopefully he will get help. You do not have to tell me about mental illness. I had an uncle who was mentally ill.

          • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

            I know. I’ve had a bit to do with mental illness too. That is why people exploiting obvious delusions makes me so angry.

            • FW Ken

              I worked with adults having severe mental illness for about 15 years, and we have depression in the family. That said, I don’t see much in this guy’s stuff to warrant a diagnosis. There is some paranoia, I guess, but he’s pretty coherent. Of course, that much rage, assuming it’s not staged for effect, will likely send him over the edge, if he’s not already there.

              • kenofken

                Come on folks. He’s an activist, and he does what activists do. He makes a lot of noise and smoke to get his cause media attention. He’s also a trial lawyer, and that’s a form of street theater all it’s own. It’s an act, and it’s one that’s performed by activists of every political and religious stripe.

                Labeling someone as “mentally ill” because you don’t like their political position is a cheap form of insult, and it demeans and cheapens the struggle of people who really do have mental illnesses. It’s also very dangerous to conflate mental illness with the “wrong” political views. That was a favorite tool of the Soviets and many other repressive regimes, and if you can label someone crazy for disagreeing with you, they can do the same to you one day.

                I think it would also do us all well to read Weinstein’s Huffington Post rant in its entirety before rendering judgment. I don’t agree with his choice of words like “monsters”. I think it’s unhelful, at best. But it’s also clear that he is targeting some fairly extreme groups, not Christians generally. Some of these folks have argued for truly extreme positions, including banning Muslims from the military, denying First Amendment protections to Muslims so that they could worship only by our leave etc. I don’t think most Christians in this country real want to make common cause with Weinstein’s “monsters.” They are no one’s allies in the fight for religious freedom.

                • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

                  He is targeting Christians, period. And his choice of words shows his mental state. Nobody sane, even if villainous, would use such language to argue a point. That is not an attempt to convince anyone, that is an uncontrolled surrender to a pathological state.

    • katiehippie

      Capital letter don’t mean you are RIGHT.

    • PNW

      Hello, I am probably someone you would classify as a “Mikey Weinstein.” Could you please tell me what you think the difference is between freedom of religion vs. freedom from religion? There isn’t a difference but I am just curious about your thoughts.

      It is illegal to force cadets to take the oath that forced them to swear to a god. At the very least, believers should have the option to swear the oath to their ‘chosen’ deity which is what the AF Academy choose to do.

      Also, I especially like your last paragraph. The irony in it is wonderful.

      • Dale

        Hi PNW,

        Offhand, I think the difference between freedom OF religion vs freedom FROM religion is that one is open to religious expression and viewpoints whereas the other one shuts out such things. However, that distinction is just off the top of my head so I welcome a discussion of your question.

        As for Mikey Weinstein, my guess is that you may not want to identify with him. He uses the sort of rhetorical hyperbole normally associated with AM radio talk show hosts, Here is an example, chosen at random:
        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-l-weinstein/fundamentalist-christian-_b_3072651.html

        • PNW

          I just used the term because that is what stlouisix used. I also almost always agree with Mikey.

          Perhaps we have a difference in the way we think about freedom from religion. To me, that means I am allowed to pick a religion or no religion. I am not sure how it would shut out things like religious expression. Do you think that in freedom of religion I should be allowed to pick no religion at all? Thanks

          • Dale

            PNW, welcome back

            Yes, I think that freedom of religion includes allowing persons to choose no religion. From the discussions I have had, many Christians consider atheism to be a matter of faith. I realize that many atheists do not agree with that perspective, and I do not wish to offend you. However, I think it is a common view among Christians (at least in the US, I can’t speak for other countries.)

      • FW Ken

        Freedom of religion, guaranteed by the Constitution, is the practice of our faiths in all forms. For Christians, that means relief for the poor, family services, schools, hospitals and disaster relief. Jews and Muslims do that sort of thing as well. Freedom from religion is simply adolescent demands from hate-mongers insecure in their unbelief. Mikey’s screed is only one bit of evidence for that.

        Now run along and build a gulag. It’s all your type can build. Everything else is social destruction. And consider this: smug superiority isn’t the best way to sell your product.

      • FW Ken

        Oddly enough, I’m listening to a news feature about Ft. Hood soldiers being threatened should they support Christian groups, tea party groups, or pro-life groups. These are all terrorists, you understand.

        More atheist goodness.

  • $50360981

    If I were a cadet, I’d be tempted to recite the oath, emphasizing the final phrase by raising my volume, not quite shouting. But I”m contrary that way.

    • Donalbain

      Why? What would you achieve by doing that?

      • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

        One’s dissent to the change.


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