Military Freedom of Religion Foundation Event at UCCS by Gary Betchan: October 17, 2012
Military Freedom of Religion Foundation Event at UCCS
by Gary Betchan
When Air Force Academy cadets first started sneaking into Freethinkers meetings some 20 years ago, we knew who they were. Their youth and very short hair gave them away. But they would not tell us where they were from, or anything else. They would sit quietly in the back of the room, talk with no one, and leave as soon as the presentation was over.
As the months passed they slowly started talking with other Freethinkers. They suggested that they had to claim to be going to a church service to get permission to leave the Academy. They would complain about religious harassment and threats to their career if they didn't embrace fundamentalist Christianity.
We gave them the standard advice for nonbelievers in those positions. Keep you religious understandings to yourself, don't push back against any insult or attempt to trick you into talking about religion, and start building a log
book. Record every offense, collect papers, emails, newspaper articles, any thing that illustrates what is being done to you. Several of the cadets did this, and years later one of them filed a complaint with Air Force officials.
The shock waves from that complaint has shaken the Academy to it's core and reached military bases around the world. They also reached into Mikey Weinstein's home in New Mexico. Mikey graduated from the United States Air Force Academy and then led a strong career as a lawyer in powerful government circles. When he found out that his own sons, Air Force Academy students at the time, were being harassed because of the their Jewish heritage, he exploded into action.
He formed the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and started a military style attack on religious extremism at the Air Force Academy and throughout the United States Military. He has succeeded beyond the dreams of the average Freethinker. Mr. Weinstein recently welcomed the introduction of Air Force Instruction 1-1, section 2.11 of which makes it mandatory for Air Force personnel to “avoid the actual or apparent use of their position to promote their personal religious beliefs to their subordinates or to extend preferential treatment for any religion” (http://www.e-publishing.af.mil/shared/media/epubs/AFI1-1.pdf ).
This month Mr. Weinstien is coming to fire up a Colorado Springs crowd at the Student Secular Alliance's meeting at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs at 6:30 PM on Wednesday, October 24, 2012 in Centennial Hall, Room 203. The event is free, open to the public, and coincides with the Freethinkers of Colorado Springs October meeting. You can find more details about the event at www.FreethinkersCS.com. Please visit http://mrffssauccs-efbevent.eventbrite.com/ to get a free ticket and make a donation in support of the MRFF or the UCCS Secular Student Alliance.
If you are in the military, are former military, love someone who is in the military, or if you pay taxes in the United States of America, you should hear Mikey's story.
You can begin at mrff.org.
Published October 17, 2012 with the quotation below.
“There is a time and place to talk about religion, and I don't think that time and place is while you are on the job.”