An Interview with Mikey Weinstein
This interview contains strong language, after the jump.
If you read this site, Mikey Weinstein appears in a number of posts. His organization, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, fights to protect the religious freedoms of soldiers and veterans. The infamous Christian Embassy Pentagon video, the anti-Semitic postings on Fort Leavenworth’s website, and now the case of Rabbi Goldman, the “rabbi on the run,” all point to a threat to the Establishment Clause. At the root of the threat is what Weinstein describes, and not for dramatic effect, as a “Christian Taliban.”
Weinstein’s motivations are absolutely genuine. He’s a man who clearly loves the Constitution and this country. His family has over 128 years of combined service in the armed forces. He is a graduate of the Air Force Academy. He’s been the target of what he now combats during his service, and it was his sons’ experience at the Air Force Academy that pushed him into action.
His book, With God on Our Side: One Man’s War Against an Evangelical Coup in America’s Military, details the ongoing case of the Air Force Academy. Clearly, he’s no stranger to the cause he waves the banner for.
It shows. He speaks in the easy manner of a seasoned grunt, and it’s not affectation, it’s genuine affection for the service members he seeks to serve now. During our interview, he took a call from a Marine deployed in theater, who described himself as a “Easter and Christmas Christian,” which apparently wasn’t Christian enough for someone in the chain of command of this Marine. That Weinstein drops everything else to take the call of a troop deployed abroad speaks volumes.
For his efforts he pays a high price. In a surprising rejection of their own “love thy enemy” mandate, many of those at odds with his cause have made death threats and harassed Weinstein and his family.
My family and I, mostly me, take a lot of heat, a lot of threats. A lot of them, physically, the death threats, have manifested themselves in slashed tires, dead animals placed on our front door, beer bottles of feces thrown at the house. Two weeks ago we had the largest window in our house shot out. A church was burned down in Topeka, Kansas after the head of it, Saint David’s Episcopal Church, the largest episcopal church in the capital there, came out and supported me after a speech I gave at the university.
We covered a lot of ground in the interview, from what will come of the Inspector General report about the Christian Embassy video, to the Rabbi Goldman case, to the Messianic chaplain we’ve blogged about on this site. He speaks with the confidence of one who knows that the Framers and the Constitution are on his side. If his statements come across as vituperative or pugilistic, one only has to look at what is at stake to understand why.
Weinstein: I’m delighted to make your acquaintance. I come to you today, and we’re at war. This is not an issue, this is a national security threat. That’s how we view it. There’s very little we can do other than go back into Federal Court and confront this as hard as we can, as powerfully as we can. This is not a small issue, this is essentially the Christian Taliban in our US Military.
I know that you see it. I try very hard to make sure that people don’t view this as a Christian/Jewish issue, but as a fundamentalist, Dominionist Christian Premillienial Dispensational issue versus the Constitution. You know, we’re the apple of the eye of the fundamentalists. They love us to death. Literally that. They’ve got to place us in Israel. They’ve got to make sure there’s Israeli hegemony over as much as of the Middle East as possible. They have so much to do. Then they have to make sure they can accelerate any conflict to help bring Jesus and G-d and the Holy Spirit back. And then when they come back, the blood runs hip deep. No Jews get to go to heaven at all, we are either forcibly converted or thrown into to lake of fire. But you know all this.
BK: And as you move to the right in our own circles, they find support, from perhaps the Dennis Pragers of the world.
Prager, and many others. I spent ten days in March in the Upper West Side and Upper East Side of New York. You can’t get through. Any religious entity that suppresses the rights of women and seems to hate homosexuals, and view with suspicion any applicability of the Constitution to subordinate their own Biblical world views. They’re bad. That includes our folks, the Orthodox, the others, many have quoted to me that they couldn’t at all relate. It’s my own fault that my three children, all of whom are Air Force Academy graduates, my daughter in-law who’s Christian, my two Jewish sons. They’re all lieutenants, and they should be in the US military, they should be in the IDF. That’s what matters.
I’m sure you get a pretty good sense of how bad this is. I refer to it as a contagion.
With regards to the Christian Embassy and the IG Report that came out, does it offer any hope?
Not really. It’s more of a weed whacker. The report itself was ludicrous, and I don’t mean the rap or movie star. It started out by exempting itself from DoD Directive 1300.17, entitled “Accommodation of Religious Practices within the Military Services.” The point of the report was to say “hey, no one in this thing was really trying to proselytize,” and the whole focus of the report was “you wore your uniform at the wrong time,” like wearing a Halloween costume at the wrong party, and they didn’t want to get anywhere near any Constitutional issues. The religious right picked that up, the ACLJ – American Center for Law and Justice – whose head I debated at the Air Force Academy on April 24th this year. That’s Pat Robertson’s personal lawyer–
Jay Sekulow. Yeah, he had no clue what was going on. Or at least professed to have no clue. So the report, and of course it was very weak, it recommended, quote-unquote, some corrective action to the officers and senior people who were found to be in violation of the “when can you wear your Halloween costume and can you not” reg. And of course that corrective action could be forcing them to eat chocolate or strawberry cupcakes after they’ve gotten pretty filled eating their entree at a dinner or something, who knows?
The JWV has no spine. I’ve been completely depressed. They haven’t reached out at all, they seem to have absolutely no balls whatsoever. Somehow I think they and the ADL, Abe Foxman, have confused circumcision with castration. I don’t see any balls at all from any of them, so my response is “go back to collecting your dues.”
I am not a national Jewish leader. Yes, I’m Jewish; I hold the banner very high. I love my cultural Judaism. My spirituality is attacked by Jews, by rabbis, saying that I married a Christian woman–I did, back in 1977, she converted eight months later. She’s been Jewish since she was 19. She turns 50 this year. She’s been on the board of our synagogue, she’s been the president of the Sisterhood of our synagogue, she runs the Judaica shop.
They call me the “Field General of the Godless Armies of Satan” and throw my picture up on Jumbotrons at a lot of their mega-evangelical churches on Sundays with that name underneath it. Or Satan, or Satan’s lawyer. I get attacked for my Jewishness on both sides. It’s irrelevant. I could be a Satanist, I could be a Catholic or Protestant, it doesn’t matter. I don’t care if they embrace me as the messenger, I couldn’t fucking care less. I want them to embrace the message that we have a beautiful social contract in this country called the US Constitution, which represents the very first time in human history that a nation-state created a governing document that did not–not–invoke the name of a particular deity.
I just got an email from a guy telling me that since we have “in G-d we Trust” on our currency, and we say “under G-d” in the Pledge of Allegiance, that shows we’re a Christian nation, and by me attacking that, we’re attacking the moral fiber of our country.
Remember, we have Homer Simpson America out there. We stopped teaching Government in high school, years ago. We are graduating people from Yale and Princeton that do not know the difference between congressman, congresswoman and Senator. Most of Homer Simpson America gets excited if their neighbor is willing to spend three chilly nights on an air-mattress in front of Circuit City to make sure they get their Play Station 3. Now that’s something to get excited about. I don’t care about Janey and Jimmy Six-pack. I couldn’t fucking care less. What I care about is making sure that our donor base, the right number of them realize what we have to do. I hope that when you post this, you’ll include our web site, which is www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org. Let them know that don’t give all the money to the local Little League, the library, JCC or Jewish Federation, because anything they give to us is fully tax deductible.
We are a weapon. We’re a militant organization. Our job is to kick ass, take names, lay down a withering field of fire, and leave sucking chest wounds on this unconstitutional heart of darkness, if you will, this imperious fascistic contagion of unconstitutional triumphalism.
Do you think it [Christian influence] is getting worse, or is the new media picking up on it more?
They only do that because of our foundation. The other groups that our out there, the ADL, the ACLU, People for the American Way, Southern Poverty Law Center, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, in their own ways, they’re all good groups, I’ve belonged to all of them. None of them focus with laser-like precision on where all the nukes. It is getting far worse.
You’ve seen the Tikkun article. We have 737 US military installations, that the Pentagon acknowledges. These are scattered in 132 countries around the world. On every one of them we have an OCF now. There’s like 39 of these organizations at Fort Leavenworth alone. Officers Christian Fellowship for the officers, and Christian Military Fellowship for the enlisted.
And they do have this tripartite, three level goal. It dwarfs, in their minds, the oath that they all swore, like you did, my three kids did, that I did, to support and defend protect and preserve the Constitution of the United States. And these three goals are, listed right on their website, number one, they want to see a spiritually transformed US military. Goal number two is ambassadors for Christ in uniform. Parenthetically, that hasn’t worked out too well for the planet Earth for the last 2000 years. Then lastly, empowered by the Holy Spirit.
These are people believe six things, six very very quick things about their religious faith. First of all, they will acknowledge, Dominionist Fundamentalist Christians in the military and elsewhere, there are about 10,000 extant or recognized world religious faiths.
Number one, they believe they have the only correct faith, their version of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is 12.6% of the American public, about 38 million. They have the only correct faith.
Number two, everyone else, including most of their Christian brothers and sisters, have the wrong faith.
Number three, they believe they are assured as a reward, they will get for their weaponized Gospel, that they will get eternal life.
Number four, the penalty the rest of us reap for not believing, that we will be lit up like a Roman Candle on the 4th of July, burning eternally in the lake of fire in Hell.
Number five, they believe that their weaponized Gospel of Jesus Christ requires that they use every fiber of their physical, sociological, physiological, spiritual being to convert the rest of us, including their non-fundamentalist Christian brothers and sisters to their religious perspective.
Lastly, they will quote 2nd Corinthians, Chapter 6, verse 14 over and over again, indicating that they cannot be “unequally yoked.” They must forcibly disassociate themselves if we eventually fail to convert, because those who do not convert represent darkness and unrighteousness, and those who are trying to convert them represent the only light and the only righteousness.
These are people that inside the military, up and down the military chain of command, that have four particular malodorous stenches about them. The first is virulent homophobia. We saw that with General Peter Pace a couple of months ago when he associated homosexuality with adultery. Virulent misogyny, the fact that women should be consigned to selecting and preparing food, serving food, cleaning up after meals, spreading their legs, getting pregnant and raising children. And then lastly, virulent anti-Semitism, which takes many forms.
“We love you Jews. We love you Jews.” (claps hands) “Places everyone, all the Jews go to Israel. We gotta strengthen Israel.”
If this was an old western saloon, a metaphor, we’re going to go into the saloon, and there are two cowboys on either end of the bar. They’re drinking heavily, but not heavily enough. We’re going to whisper in the ear of the cowboy on the left and tell him the cowboy on the right said something about him. Then we’re going to whisper in the ear of the cowboy on the right that the cowboy on the left said something about him. We’re going to keep serving the liquor, we’re going to try and start that big bar fight in the sky, and then Jesus comes back. Our Biblical prophecies, the Book of Revelation happens. It’s a great five-part passion play. The blood runs hip deep, the Left Behind series. In part four, the Jews disappear, of the five-part passion play, and all is right with the world.
Lastly, the last stench is this massive subordination of very weak “man’s law,” flawed “man’s law,” to their pristine law, their version of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is in the very air conditioning of the Marine Corps, the Army, the Navy the Air Force, it is up and down the chain of command. It is subtle; it is direct. We’re the only group combating it, they know who we are. We’ve gotten a place at the table, we’ve clawed our way up. It’s been very, very hard creating this out of whole cloth.
When my kids, when I found out what was happening at the Air Force Academy, when Mel Gibson’s movie came out, in February of 2004. I’m sure you remember the name.
The Passion of the Christ. That was a nightmare.
The name that I call it is the “Jesus Chainsaw Massacre,” or “Freddy vs. Jesus.” That was essentially being forced on the 4200 member cadet wing of the Air Force Academy, and the 6000 staff.
We’re in a war. We’re not in a war with Christianity, meaning me and the legions that I lead, or even evangelical Christianity. We have many evangelical Christians who very significantly support me. The most famous one is David Iglesias [notable in the recent attorney firings]. When I first took on the Air Force Academy, he gave me a little pocket Bill of Rights, took out a yellow highlighter, highlighted the first amendment. He said “show that to the Generals of the Air Force Academy, let them know, Mikey, how close we are, that I’m a US Attorney.” He’s also a Reserve Navy JAG captain.
Half my own family is Christian. In that half, we have Evangelical Christians, who’s last name is Christian. I know the religious right would love it if I could be categorized as a bleeding heart, Chardonnay sipping, tree-hugging, Northern California, liberal Democrat. Not that there would be anything wrong with that, to wax Seinfeldian. But I’m not. I’m a registered Republican. I come from a conservative military family. My youngest son, who just graduated from the Air Force Academy two and a half months ago, is the 6th member of my family to go there, including me. We have 3 consecutive generations of military academy graduates in my family. We have over 128 years of combined active duty military services in my immediate family, from every major combat engagement this country’s been in from WWI to the current so-called global war on terror. So when Rush Limbaugh decides to rip into me a couple of months ago; I’m a pacifist and an aider and abettor to Al Qaeda. My response is, poor Rush. If it wasn’t for the growth of apparently a sudden anal cyst in his butt, that would have kept him out of military service, maybe he, too, could have spent a nanosecond in uniform and might have a better understanding of what this shit is all about.
And you hear more complaints from Christian service members than any other group?
Oh, my G-d. The stat is over 5000 members. We’re heading towards 6000 active duty members of Us Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps and veterans have come to us. They’re tormentees. We’re being told that now that their first sergeants and commanders are telling them that we’re an Al Qaeda-backed organization, because if you go to our website, Reza Aslan is there. We co-wrote the LA Times op-ed 48 hours ago. He’s one of the most well recognized and respected young Islamic intellectuals in the world. He’s an adviser/consultant all the time on TV, with MSNBC. He’s been on Colbert and Jon Stewart, was a professor at University of Iowa, got a wonderful book out called No God but God. But, of course, he must be a member Al Qaeda, right? That’s just complete bullshit.
Of the 5000-plus that have come to us, 96%–it stays amazingly constant–96% of those coming to us are Christians themselves. It usually breaks down, 3 out of every 4 will be traditional Protestants, like Lutherans, Methodists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, we even get Assembly of God, Church of Christ, Mormons, we get Baptists. One fourth of that 96% will be Roman Catholic. The remaining 4 – 4/5% will be Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu, Janes, Shinto, Wiccan, atheism, agnostic. This is basically fundamentalist Dominionist Christians who are preying and praying on fellow Christians. Telling them, you know what, you may have thought you’re Christian enough, but we’re here to tell you you’re not. You are not appropriately displaying the Spirit, you are not appropriately washed in the Blood of the Lamb, and as a result, you will burn eternally in the fires of Hell, along with the Jews.
You’re involved in the Rabbi Goldman case now.
[Rabbi Goldman currently is designated as a deserter by the Department of Defense and resides in Canada. He levied complaints of anti-Semitism on the part of chaplains at Hunter Airfield. At the request of Rabbi Lapp, he submitted his resignation over the situation, only to have his resignation refused due to the critical shortage of chaplains.]
Here’s my response to Rabbi Lapp. First of all that isn’t his name. I’m changing his name officially to Rabbi Lapp-dog. He’s a disgrace as an American citizen. He’s a disgrace as a Jew. If I saw him, I’d spit in his face. The only thing I know that he can do is reflect light, circulate blood and breathe. I’ve had so many complaints about him while he sat back, collecting his nice check, pulling lint out of his belly button, and becoming a speed-bump for the fundamentalist Dominionist evangelical juggernaut in our US military. What he did with Rabbi Goldman, as far as I’m concerned, makes him like a kapo in Auschwitz.
Let’s remember what happened to Rabbi Goldman. Let’s remember, I paid my money to have him go under a polygraph test with the top polygrapher in the country of Canada. A +6 on that test indicates complete and total honesty. Our rabbi scored a +20 or +21, off the scale, honesty. His statements were so shocking I had to have him undergo a lie detector test. And I would love for Rabbi Lapp-dog to take a lie detector test.
According to published articles, Rabbi Lapp didn’t disagree with the statements and placed the emphasis on Rabbi Goldman’s desertion.
I think he told him,”you need to stay four meters away from people who hate Jews in the Army,” or something like that. You have to check, I’m not sure. The bottom line is, Rabbi Lapp-dog is a disgrace. I wanted to quote another rabbi, Rabbi Leo Boeck. One of his great phrases, that applies to much to Rabbi Lapp-dog, and actually everybody, that in this life, we’re not judged merely by what we do, we are also judged by what we permit to be done. That’s why I judge Rabbi Lapp-dog as being massively suboptimal.
Jews in Green has blogged about a Messianic “Jewish” chaplain who may have intercepted materials intended for an Orthodox Soldier while deployed to Iraq.
That I did not know. If he did in fact intercept stuff going to an Orthodox Soldier, that chaplain should be immediately court martialed. He should be fucking court martialed. I’m speaking as a JAG, I spent a tenth of a century in the JAG. That is absolutely violating the oath that he took to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, he is establishing a religion. He has also established a religious test, violating therefore Clause 3, Article 6. As a JAG, he’s probably violated a number of key aspects of the UCMJ. Charges should be referred against him immediately for a general court martial. It will never happen.
Do you think the Equal Opportunity mechanisms, the complaint systems within the services are up to the task of dealing with these situations?
Oh no, they’re completely broken. Which is why I have two Air Force Academy professors that have just come out with an editorial in the American Humanist, where they’re calling now for everyone in the military to take an Oath of Equal Character, where they raise their right hand. Not just the Oath of Office, where they first have to state what their religious faith is, whatever it is or no faith, and that they realize they’ll be working with people in the military that do not share that faith, but that they realize those people are trustworthy and of equal character, and they will not use their positions to try and convert them to their own view.
And of course, the fundamentalists will say, “that violates my freedom of religion, because that’s what I should be allowed to do.” But of course, in the military, our honorable and noble sailors, soldiers, Marines and Airmen, give up so many of their Constitutional rights in order to support the higher goal of providing good order and discipline. You gotta have it to create a truly lethal fighting force that protects the full panoply of Constitutional rights for all of the rest of us. Many constitutional rights are given up, and because of that, our troops are very vulnerable.
The Pentagon knows this, and that’s why we have regulations up and down the chain of command, on paper, that prevent military superiors from using the draconian specter of command influence to push Mary Kay cosmetics, Tupperware, and Amway on subordinates. In the case of religion, if you’re even being gently evangelized, like this cocksucker Messianic rabbi withholding materials to an Orthodox Jewish member, “get the fuck out of my goddamn face, sir or ma’am” is not an option for you.
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