Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) Rebuttal To: “Fighting for the Bible, One Air Force Base at a Time”
Published Thursday, August 2, 2018
On Tuesday, July 31st, 2018, one Cheryl K. Chumley cast off her Christian guise in the Washington Times and indulged herself in spewing a judgmental torrent of vitriol suggesting her favorite ox has been seriously gored.
Evidently, Ms. Chumley doesn’t understand that freedom of religion means that Americans, including the women and men in our armed forces, are free to believe as they choose. Such freedom allows for the choice of any religion or no religion, a notion that Ms. Chumley and her ilk have great difficulty comprehending.
This freedom, enshrined in our Constitution and buttressed in laws and military regulations supporting the separation of church and state, is one of the most cherished aspects of our common heritage as Americans. It is also, however, one that Christian supremacists like Ms. Chumley and those for whom she speaks find to be an impediment to their “our way or the highway” crusade.
For freedom-loving Americans of all beliefs, it is an inappropriate attempt to impose one faith’s symbol onto a tribute for heroic women and men who believed as they chose.
The creators of the original “Missing Man” or “POW/MIA” table understood that those they cherished were men (and now women) of varying belief systems and thus, appropriately, chose to have no religious book, tract or artifact on the table honoring them. The American Legion understood that and followed suit.
Both groups understood that the way these 1st Amendment freedoms are protected is to ensure that no part of the government, which of course includes the military, may promote, promulgate or otherwise suggest any preference for one faith or belief system over the many others enjoyed by our countrymen and women.
That, however, does not sit well with Christian supremacists, or perhaps dominionists, whose fervency demands that all fall into line with their particularly twisted interpretation of Christ’s teaching, insisting as they do that ours is a Christian Nation, our military Jesus’ Army and anyone who doesn’t accept same is condemned to Hell’s fire for eternity.
For them, today, the placement of a Christian Bible on a government-sponsored display is the camel’s nose under the tent. For freedom-loving Americans of all beliefs, it is an inappropriate attempt to impose one faith’s symbol onto a tribute for heroic women and men who believed as they chose.
In her tirade, Ms. Chumley hysterically heaped insult and invective on Mikey Weinstein, Founder and President of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF). As happens with zealots, she was wrong on every count, so she can work that out with her God. MRFF’s paid and volunteer staff of over 420 individuals, its board, and its advisory board are over 80% Christian; and, of MRFF’s over 57,000 active duty and veteran armed forces clients, over 95% are Christian.
She also, however, took it upon herself to berate Col. Stacy Jo Huser, commander of F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming, for recognizing that the Bible’s placement was ill-advised and coming up with an alternative she thought might serve to increase “the sense of belonging for all our airmen,” and make “the religious and non-religious feel included and cared for.” A thoughtful attempt at solving the problem, some might think, but for the Christian-only crowd, she’s a loser.
For Ms. Chumley and the Christian-supremacist crowd she represents, I suggest a careful re-reading of our First Amendment and the Sermon on the Mount.
Member, Military Religious Freedom Foundation Advisory Board
Actor and Human Rights Activist