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May 31 2013

The Pentagon Most Certainly is Listening to Mikey Weinstein

For an undetermined number of years, adorning a wall in the Wagon Wheel dining hall at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho was an inspirational piece of artwork proclaiming the message of Matthew 5:9 — “Blessed are the peacemakers” — because nothing says “peacemaker” like the image of the medieval crusader that this message accompanied. The artwork was also emblazoned with the word “integrity,” because nothing, of course, says “integrity” like an overt display of Christian nationalism.

mt-home-crusader

 

While many other airmen eating in this dining facility over the years have no doubt been offended by this depiction of Christian supremacy, none were willing to face the predictable retribution that would likely follow if they objected to it and tried to get it removed — until now, that is.

This morning, MRFF was contacted by a non-commissioned officer (NCO) from this Air Force Base, who was acting as the spokesperson for a group of twenty-two airmen who wanted this repugnant piece of artwork removed. Were these airmen a bunch of militant atheists who seek to rid the military of all vestiges of religion? Well, no. Seventeen of the twenty-two are Christians, both Catholic and Protestant.

The NCO speaking for the group had first contacted another organization in his area to ask for help in getting the artwork removed. That organization referred him to America’s most diabolical defender of religious liberty — the “Field General of the Godless Armies of Satan,” as one prominent mega-church pastor dubbed him — Mikey Weinstein, head of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF).

Mikey immediately called the Pentagon because, you know, he can do that (to the obvious consternation of the folks at breitbart.com, certain members of Congress, and other modern-day Christian crusaders).

Mikey gave the Air Force an hour to take action.

By the time Mikey talked to the Wing Commander at the base a few minutes later, the Wing Commander had already been contacted by the Pentagon.

Fifty-six minutes after his call to the Pentagon, the image of the crusader, with its odious melding of the crusader flag with the American flag, had been removed from the dining hall.

Nobody is sure exactly how long this utterly inappropriate and blatantly unconstitutional image has been hanging in the dining hall, and whoever should be held responsible for deciding to place it there may very well no longer even be at the base. But the current Wing Commander, although not responsible for the hanging of this now removed dining facility artwork, is responsible for everything that happens on his base now, and to his credit has decided to take action beyond just the removal of this single offensive display.

Last year, the Air Force ordered what were called “health and welfare inspections” on all Air Force bases, which were conducted between December 5 and December 17. While these inspections were prompted by the military-wide epidemic of sexual harassment and assaults, and the primary target was the display in military workplaces and public areas of inappropriate materials objectifying women, many Air Force bases extended their inspections to include any type of materials that were inappropriate to display in these areas, including inappropriate and unconstitutional religious displays.

This morning, the Wing Commander at Mountain Home Air Force Base, where the “health and welfare inspection” had obviously not been extended to include inappropriate materials other than those objectifying women, told Mikey Weinstein that he will be ordering another inspection to rid his base of anything else like what had been hanging in the dining hall.

Shortly after the removal of the dining hall crusader, the NCO who had contacted MRFF sent the following email to Mikey on behalf of himself and the twenty-one other airmen who decided to take a stand for religious liberty:

From: USAF Non-Commissioned Officer’s E-mail Address Withheld
Subject: Crusader/USAF Painting: Thank You Mr. Weinstein and MRFF
Date: May 31, 2013 10:51:26 AM MDT
To: Mikey Weinstein < ——@militaryreligiousfreedom.org>

Dear Mikey Weinstein and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation,

I want to send my deepest appreciation to you and your entire MRFF organization. I’m an NCO (Non-Commissioned Officer) stationed at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, and I have been extremely disturbed and shocked by a clearly Christian picture of religious supremacy very prominently hanging in the dining facility of our Air Force Base. I was raised in a Christian home; however, this picture made me feel terribly uncomfortable, disheartened and disappointed. I and countless other Airmen were forced to look at this “Crusader/USAF” painting while we ate. We had no other choice. I believe the Department of Defense and the USAF shouldn’t be shamefully promoting a specific religion, and immediately removing this unconstitutional “Crusader/USAF” framed painting is one small step in overcoming the epidemic of out-of-control Christian religious extremism in our U.S. military. For the record, there are 21 other MRFF clients at Mountain Home AFB that came forward to you and the MRFF on this particular matter of outrage and 17 of them are either Protestant or Roman Catholic. None of us felt as though we could go to our command chains or to any other USAF agency to fix this matter without suffering either direct or indirect negative repercussions. Mikey and MRFF, thank you for so passionately representing everyone’s religious views and rights under the constitution, whether they are mostly Christian, as is the case here, or any and every other faith or even no faith!Again, thank you for getting this Christian superiority painting so swiftly removed.

(USAF Non-Commissioned Officer’s name, rank, AFSC, and assigned USAF military unit all withheld)

16 comments

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  1. 1
    bishopdm

    Sheesh…reminds me of a number of Nazi propaganda posters I’ve seen. Come to think of it, the guy in the foreground certainly does resemble an SS officer. Love how the “christian” flag and the American flag are one and the same.

  2. 2
    Yoritomo

    You mean this Nazi propaganda painting? That’s what I immediately thought of.

  3. 3
    coragyps

    Crap! You would think the base optometrist would have had it removed the day it was hung to prevent eye injuries! That’s freakin’ hideous!

  4. 4
    Tsu Dho Nimh

    Field General of the Godless Armies of Satan?

    We have to get him a t-shirt for that. Is he a 4-star general?

  5. 5
    Donovan

    @coragyps #3: I got in a bit of trouble when I began college in the Bible Belt and, during an art history class, offered the advice, “If you have no talent, paint, sing, or dance about Jesus and you’ll be treated like da Vinci.” To my Catholic, homophobic, global warming denying, far right wing art professor’s credit, he defended me admirably.

    And pass the thanks from me on to Mikey, if you would, Chris? I was the only atheist I knew of on my ship (though I am sure there were more) and the unspoken theme even back in the ’90s was, “Christians are Americans, but others are welcome to defend us as well.” I was harassed for months by one church group and my CMC only had the advice that perhaps I ought to get right with God and go with them.

  6. 6
    ospalh

    @bishopdm #1:
    I had to think of one speciific SS officer.

  7. 7
    gshelley

    how long before this is being used to push the idea of Christianity being under attack in the military?
    “Obama’s persecution of Christians went to new levels this week with the removal of am inspirational picture” or something like that.

  8. 8
    Chris Rodda

    Oh, they’ve already started, gshelley. Todd Starnes, FOX News’s mouthpiece for the FRC, had a piece up almost immediately after mine came out yesterday afternoon:
    http://radio.foxnews.com/toddstarnes/top-stories/air-force-removes-inspirational-painting.html

  9. 9
    ab23

    As the wife of the Air Man that made the complaint, I was incredibly apprehensive. In fact, I told him not to because I was afraid of retaliation. It was clearly offensive — in order to have integrity, you must consider yourself a Christian crusader? The Christian flag melding into the crusader flag? That’s ridiculous. But I was right to be concerned. Christians almost never behave like “Christians.” If you know what I mean… I’ve scoured the right-wing blogs and saw exactly what people think of my husband — unpatriotic, shouldn’t be allowed in this country, maggot, idiot, etc. He is one of the most loyal, loving, honest patriots existing in the USAF and in the US, and I find it absolutely appalling that the “support our troops” phrase seems to only apply to the troops who look and think like you. It really makes my blood boil to see how unpatriotic and anti-equality and “me me me, what I want” the Christians can be. I didn’t realize this is what Jesus preached.

  10. 10
    blorf

    I am visualizing a General saying “I’m sorry Mr President, I have to put you on hold, I have a call on the Mikey-phone.”

  11. 11
    Olav

    ab23 #9:

    It really makes my blood boil to see how unpatriotic and anti-equality and “me me me, what I want” the Christians can be. I didn’t realize this is what Jesus preached.

    Christians worship only the dead Jesus, a malnourished, bleeding, tortured and humilated corpse on a cross. This is how Jesus serves the Christians best. It is what makes them feel good. They have no use for the wisdom of Jesus when (according to the stories) he was still alive, i.e. the Sermon on the Mount.

  12. 12
    magistramarla

    AB23 #9,
    I’m the wife of a retired high-ranking officer.
    I want to thank you and your husband for standing up for what is right.
    You are not alone. We are Atheists and progressives. We’ve watched the culture in the Armed Forces getting more and more right-wing, evangelical and closed-minded over the last thirty years.
    We need more brave progressives like yourselves to work to turn this trend around.

  13. 13
    gshelley

    If it wasn’t so predictable, I’d be impressed with myself. I can’t even feel particularly proud that I got the word “inspirational” right.

  14. 14
    Alex

    Constitutional shmonstitutional! That thing is offensively ugly!

    But srsly, good work. Indep. of the church/state issue, the crusader image in times of the irak and afghanistan wars has such terrible connotations.

  15. 15
    patricksimons

    It will be a good day for America if, and when, evangelicals realize the freedom of religion is not the freedom to force their views on others. In any setting.

  16. 16
    =8)-DX

    The fox article mentioned is almost as disgusting as the painting itself. They make NO attempt to be unbiased. Despite quoting part of the complaint to Mikey, they completely ignored the fact that this was a complaint from mainly Christians! Nowhere in the piece do they say that and they even fricken call the group of soldiers “an anti-religion group” and quote Boykin: “This is clearly more evidence of anti-Christian activity in the military”.

    How doesn’t this not make one want to puke? (Not to mention that many of them will turn on a fuckin’ dime and say Christianity is not a religion, religion is bad, etc. etc. if it helps their talking points).

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