The Taliban in Our Midst – Mikey Weinstein

This guest Op-Ed from my dear friend, Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) [2] Advisory Board member, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s Chief of Staff Lawrence Wilkerson [3], comes in light of an unprecedented Christian fundamentalist furor over MRFF’s demands [4] for the U.S Air Force to court-martial [5] Major General Craig Olson. Why did we demand this [6] punishment for Olson?  Because of this senior General’s illegal and unconstitutionally sectarian speech of shocking Christian proselytizing [7] earlier this month at a religious extremist organization’s (“National Day of Prayer Task Force”) internationally televised event held on Capitol Hill. This disingenuous hue and cry surrounds our ongoing fight againstdominionist hegemony [8] within the highest ranks of the U.S. armed forces, long a hotbed of nationalistic Christian supremacist extremism. Sadly, this outrageous scandal has reinforced the fact that many of the worst opponents of the U.S. Constitution [9] are our nation’s highest-ranking military officers themselves… Mikey.

Military officers who wear their religion on their sleeve are a danger to our country at any time, but especially after the terrorists attacks of September 11, 2001.

Whether it’s US Army Lieutenant General William G. Boykin telling his audience that “My God is bigger than his” in the close aftermath of that tragedy, or the more recent example of US Air Force Major General Craig Olson saying in uniform and in public—and speaking in tones far more like a preacher than a military officer—“I am a redeemed believer in Christ“, these are dangerous men, making dangerous displays of religion.

Moreover, such displays occur in an environment where they are strictly prohibited by secular rules.  These rules—and in the case of the US Air Force, written regulations—are in place for a reason.

First, they protect the Constitutional separation of church and state.  No government representative should be seen advocating for any religion, period.  We officers, when we take the oath of office, surrender for the duration of our service the privilege of publicly professing our religion, of “wearing it on our sleeve”.

Second, these rules protect the good order and discipline of the military.  Many religions—and no religion at all—exist throughout the ranks.  To profess a particular religion from a leadership position is detrimental to that order and discipline.   How might, for example, a Jewish soldier feel when his lieutenant professes his belief in Jesus before his platoon?   A Muslim soldier?  An atheist?

In addition, a flag officer (a general or admiral) must be doubly careful because so many men and women are influenced by or fall under the sway and power of his or her every word and deed.  Sometimes it might be thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, as was the case when I served then-chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Colin Powell—who, incidentally, would never have worn his religion on his sleeve.

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