Mikey Weinstein, CEO of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, has sent a blistering letter to Chief of Staff Gen, Mark Welsh, arguing that Olson's comments violate an Air Force instruction, which prohibits airmen from endorsing a particular faith or belief.I'm not a JAG lawyer -- perhaps Joel or Joesph W. is around? -- but I'm pretty sure it's OK to pray in uniform. Not only are there designated chaplains, but in Iraq I constantly saw groups of soldiers gathering in circles to pray before going outside the wire to do route clearance or dismounted patrols. Who's going to claim soldiers ought not to pray before such a mission?
"Olson's highly publicized, sectarian speech is nothing less than a brutal disgrace to the very uniform he was wearing and the solemn oath he took to support and defend the United States Constitution," Weinstein writes.
But here's the letter, and this is what they claim he's done wrong:
2.12. Balance of Free Exercise of Religion and Establishment Clause. Leaders at all levels must balance constitutional protections for their own free exercise of religion, including individual expressions of religious beliefs, and the constitutional prohibition against governmental establishment of religion. They must ensure their words and actions cannot reasonably be construed to be officially endorsing or disapproving of, or extending preferential treatment for any faith, belief, or absence of belief. (emphasis added)So the claim is that his remarks at a prayer service constitute a felony for which he ought to be imprisoned (since that is 'the fullest extent' of punishment licensed for these 'unforgivable crimes').
In light of your very own Air Force regulation, irrefutably on point with the matter herein, and the violation of which is proscribed as a potential FELONY under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, do you honestly NOT see any incredibly serious problems here with Olson’s statements, Mark? Please also note the controlling holding of the seminal 1974 Supreme Court case of Parker vs. Levy (417 U.S. 733), penned by Chief Justice William Rehnquist, significantly limiting the Constitutional rights of active duty military members (such as Major General Olson) vs. the same rights enjoyed by their American civilian counterparts....
Consequently, on behalf of itself and its over 41,000 active duty and veteran armed forces clients, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) hereby demands that Major General Craig S. Olson be immediately, aggressively and very visibly brought to justice for his unforgivable crimes and transgressions via trial by General Courts Martial and that any and all others who assisted him with his NDPTF speech of fundamentalist Christian supremacy be likewise investigated and punished to the full extent of military law.
Now, this is a letter posted to the internet by crackpots. Still, how strange to see the lines drawn this way by any American. It's hard to believe that this makes sense to any of our countrymen at all.