This is one for the ‘you just can’t make this crap up’ file.
There is a recently-formed coalition of anti-gay Christian organizations calling itself the “Restore Military Religious Freedom Coalition.” The primary mission of this so-called “religious freedom” coalition is to protect the “right” of anti-gay Christians in the military to continue to discriminate against and harass LGB service members in a post-DADT and post-DOMA military.
The background for people who haven’t been following this little story of right-wing Christian deceit and propaganda:
Under the guise of “religious liberty” in the military, Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) introduced an amendment to the FY14 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The real purpose of Fleming’s amendment, however, is not religious liberty — unless you consider government permission to freely discriminate against and harass LGB service members to be religious liberty. As Huffington Post Deputy Politics Editor Mollie Reilly very succinctly explained, what the Fleming amendment would actually do is take away the ability of military commanders to stop anti-gay harassment and discrimination within their ranks.
Fleming introduced his amendment on June 5. On June 11, the White House strongly objected to the amendment. On June 13, the House passed the amendment.
To make the Fleming amendment seem necessary, a propaganda campaign had already begun before the amendment was introduced. Breitbart.com, Fox News, and other right-wing and Christian websites began reporting on the horrible persecution being faced by Christians in the military who, unable to bash the gays anymore, had had their religious freedom taken away! Oh, the humanity!
Fitting quite perfectly into the timing of their plan was a covert meeting that took place at the Pentagon on April 23. This well-publicized super-secret meeting was between Air Force officials and Mikey Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), and apparently the spawn of Satan. This meeting was so secret that Weinstein, along with other meeting attendees MRFF board member Joe Wilson (described by breitbart.com as “the far-left husband of CIA employee Valerie Plame from the Iraq War’s yellow-cake uranium scandal a decade ago”) and MRFF advisory board member Col. Larry Wilkerson (not described by breitbart.com at all because they didn’t want their readers to realize that this was the same Larry Wilkerson who was Colin Powell’s chief of staff), told the Washington Post all about it.
On April 28, breitbart.com started a rumor — Mikey Weinstein had been tapped as a consultant to the Pentagon to develop new policies on religious tolerance.
Other articles quickly followed:
May 1: “Pentagon May Court Martial Soldiers Who Share Christian Faith“
May 3: “Pentagon Defends Unconstitutional Policy Against Soldiers Sharing Faith“
May 7: “Pentagon Began Relationship with Anti-Christian Extremist in 2009“
May 7: “Congressmen Probe Religious Bigot’s Influence at Pentagon“
May 8: “Senators to Hagel: Explain DOD Policy on Religion“
May 11: “Congress Must Tell Pentagon to Protect Troops’ First Amendment Rights“
May 13: “59 Congress Members Demand Hagel Explain Meeting with Anti-Christian Extremist“
May 13 “Congress Investigating Obama Admin’s Hostility to Religion in the Military“
FOX News also joined in, of course, as did other right-wing media outlets, such as WorldNetDaily, and the rumor spread and got bigger, with Weinstein even becoming an anti-religion advisor to President Obama himself.
Crazy, huh? And the story has just gotten even crazier!
In late June, the so-called “Restore Military Religious Freedom Coalition” was formed to champion Rep. Fleming’s so-called “religious liberty” amendment. The four primary organizations in this coalition are the Family Research Council (FRC), the American Family Association (AFA), Chaplains Alliance for Religious Liberty (CARL), and the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).
Last Thursday, the AFA sent out an email blast about their participation in “high level meetings at the Pentagon on September 12,” saying:
“We made our point very clear…Christian soldiers and airmen have the right to express their faith and to maintain deeply held religious convictions in every area including homosexuality and homosexual marriage.”
Also represented at this September 12 meeting were CARL, the ADF, and the FRC.
In addition to their email blast’s blatant admission that this religious liberty stuff is really all about the god-given right of military Christians to bash the gays, the AFA made a point of letting its followers know that they had “specifically expressed alarm at the undue influence on the military of noted atheist ‘Mikey’ Weinstein with whom the Pentagon has met on a number of occasions,” and that they had been assured by Air Force officials that “Weinstein’s self-proclamation of influence is greatly exaggerated and that the Air Force no longer returns his phone calls.”
Weinstein’s self-proclamation of influence is greatly exaggerated? Wait a minute! It was breitbart.com that started the rumor that Mikey Weinstein had become a Pentagon consultant! And who was it who wrote the articles on breitbart.com starting this rumor? Why, it was Ken Klukowski, who also just happens to work for the FRC, one of the member organizations of the Restore Military Religious Freedom Coalition that was at this September 12 meeting!
Got it? The Restore Military Religious Freedom Coalition just met with Air Force officials to be assured that a rumor that they themselves started wasn’t true! You just can’t make this crap up!
And, as for the American Family Association’s statement that the Air Force is no longer returning Mikey Weinstein’s phone calls, Weintein has it on good authority — one of those Air Force officials who is supposedly no longer returning his phone calls — that they are still returning his phone calls.