#95 — Mikey Weinstein
Founder of Military Religious Freedom Foundation
A former Air Force officer and White House lawyer during the Reagan administration,Weinstein is today a one-issue whistle-blower who has driven real change in religious policy throughout the military.Advocating for secularism in the military through the Military Religious Freedom Foundation he founded in 2005, Weinstein has fought a campaign against public prayer and proselytizing by Air Force officers, particularly at the Air Force Academy, his alma mater, where he says he and his sons experienced religious discrimination. Weinstein has been accused of tilting at windmills in his struggles, but he scored a major victory in 2011, when the Air Force suspended a training course for nuclear missile launch officers that used Bible passages and religious imagery in a PowerPoint presentation about the ethics of war. Weinstein’s public persistence continues to influence Pentagon religious policies, including new rules released in 2012 restricting the sale of Bibles adorned with military insignia.
How the list was compiled:
This inaugural 100 Most Influential People in U.S. Defense list was compiled over five months by more than two dozen reporters and editors representing the world’s biggest military newsroom and the award-winning staffs of Gannett Government Media’s sector-leading publications: Defense News, Army Times, Air Force Times, Navy Times, Marine Corps Times, Armed Forces Journal and Federal Times.
Individuals’ personal influence — not just the power that comes with their offices — was foremost in our minds. What makes someone influential? One individual on the list explains it this way: “Influence is making change, it’s not just celebrity.”
More than 200 candidates were nominated by staffers and vetted through sources. Each person’s clout in shaping American defense policy, strategy and capability was discussed, debated and analyzed.