There is a lot of fervor going on over the display of religious symbols at the main gates of Travis Air Force Base in California. Some view this as an overreaction to a single complaint by a lone airman who reached out for help to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF). I wrote a lengthy post at PoliticusUSA about this debate yesterday laying out some of the details in an attempt to put this into the broader context of what this is all about.
This is not about reacting to one person’s complaint. This is about a collection of events occurring in our military that represent a calculated and intentional campaign to insert one religion as the predominant theology. (Read about the scope of our work here). The fact that we represent – pro Bono - nearly 26,000 men and women in our Armed Forces is evidence of how widespread this aggressive proselytizing is. For every military person who contacts us we are highly aware that there are many more who are too afraid to reach out and ask for help from MRFF after exhausting all avenues within the system in their quest for resolutions.
They are afraid for their jobs, career, family, personal safety and retribution in many forms. This is patently unacceptable.
While these men and women volunteer to join our military that exists to protect our freedoms, the least we can do is be there for them. They have all taken an oath to defend our U.S. Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic and we owe it to them to help them enjoy the very freedoms they are fighting for on our behalf.
MRFF has risen to the occasion and spoken out on many issues brought to us at an alarming rate from troops here and abroad, defending mostly the needs of mainstream Christians who seek our help. Along the way we have also represented the concerns of non-religious members as well. This clearly does not make us anti-religion nor anti-Christian, it simply makes us defenders of religious freedoms for all as provided to us as Americans under our U.S. Constitution.
It is, indeed, the season for displays for some religions, that is true. But – positioning these displays at the entry gates of a government funded military Base is more than celebrating the season, it is a statement of preference and endorsement that clearly signals to all who pass through those gates that their differing faiths and beliefs are disregarded. We fully support the erection of these displays on Base at their respective Chapels and places of worship, which is the appropriate setting. The insistence that our military is synonymous with a biblical worldview is dangerous on many levels.
Many of us at MRFF are mainstream Christians who honor the beliefs of others and recognize the inequity of having religious displays up front and center on the grounds of an institution that belong to all of us. Imagine the outrage that would erupt if displays were erected during holy seasons for other religions. For example, a display that coincides with the 29 or 30 days of Ramadan? It would be met with fierce opposition! This is not about objecting to Christianity or any other faith, quite the contrary…it is about protecting freedom of religion for all our Armed Forces personnel.
Here is my question: I would like to understand that if this is innocuous and purely without ulterior motive, why the push-back against relocating the displays to their respective houses of worship?
The glaring lack of Civics 101 education in this country shines through in the venomous hate mail we get every time we step up to represent our troops. I don’t know which is harder for me to digest – the ignorance or the hate.