The Military Religious Freedom Foundation has a curious definition of the First Amendment.
At the group’s behest, the Army opted to remove from Facebook four videos involving military chaplains who made explicit references to God and prayer in relation to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Four recent videos involving chaplains Cpt. Amy Smith and Maj. Scott Ingram posted on the Facebook page of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division Sustainment Brigade at Fort Drum, N.Y., were taken down after MRFF founder and president Mikey Weinstein sent a demand letter claiming they violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment,” Fox News reported last week.
The MRFF called it “illicit proselytizing.”
“While many chaplains are doing a very good job of putting out videos that can benefit all of the service members who they serve, which are perfectly appropriate to the situation and the delivery medium of their unit’s Facebook page, and should be commended, others seem to be trying to capitalize on fears and anxieties, and the large audience of their units’ Facebook pages, to push their religion,” MRFF senior research director Chris Rodda wrote in a piece published on liberal thought-hovel Daily Kos.
“These videos belong only on a chapel page, not on a base’s or unit’s main page.”
One of the “violations” consisted of Smith talking about the Fort Drum Spiritual Fitness Trail in an April 17 video.
“This trail is designed to be used as a prayer walk, to walk around to all the different stations,” she said.
“There are approximately nine different stations where you are invited to pray, to pray for the family, to pray for the sick and to pray for our leaders.”
“In another video, Smith encouraged people to visit the Fort Drum Labyrinth as a great place to hear God’s voice,” Fox News reported.
“It’s going to feel like you are walking in circles. But sometimes in life, that’s what it can feel like,” she said in that video.
“And if you notice, you’ll be on the outer edge of this labyrinth, and at times with our walk with God, we can almost be asking God, ‘Where are you? Where are you in the midst of this COVID-19?’ Or maybe you’ll be more toward the center, and you can hear God’s voice and you can hear him and you can sense him, even in the midst of all the craziness that is going on with all the worry, fear and anxiety.”
As for Ingram, Rodda complained about two videos he posted that “are nothing short of Christian sermons.”
In the first video, originally posted March 25, Ingram cited 1 Corinthians 13, the chapter written by the Apostle Paul about love.
“When we think of biblical faith, many think it is some kind of magical thinking or not rooted in reality, but I assure you it is not,” he said.
Moreover, in an April 2 video, Ingram said, “God encourages us not to be dismayed by what we see around us, things we cannot control. We can, however, with the best intel in this moment, place our trust in him, walk forward in his strength and treat others with kindness.”
“Change is never easy, but together we can walk forward in supernatural strength in the confidence that we are not forsaken,” Ingram said.
So in other words, according to Rodda, while “many chaplains are doing a very good job of putting out videos that can benefit all of the service members who they serve,” these chaplains are “trying to capitalize on fears and anxieties, and the large audience of their units’ Facebook pages, to push their religion.”
What, pray tell — probably the wrong choice of words with the MRFF, but there you go — is Rodda under the impression that chaplains are supposed to be doing?
How are they supposed to “benefit all of the service members who they serve?” Just give them nondenominational pep talks?
Oh well. The whole affair gave the group an opportunity to boast.
“On behalf of MRFF’s 8 active duty Army client complainants in the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, New York, half of whom are practicing Christians, we at MRFF want to thank the Army’s senior leadership for so expeditiously pulling those illicit proselytizing videos off of the official command Facebook page of the 10th Mountain Division Sustainment Brigade,” Weinstein is quoted as saying in the Daily Kos piece.
Then again, are we supposed to be shocked by this?
The MRFF is a group of legal trolls that was recently seen, as of late last year, claiming that the sale of Jesus-themed candies on an Air Force base was actually worth a legal threat. That incident involved sugar apparently being used to proselytize. This one involved spiritual succor being delivered on a unit Facebook page as opposed to a chapel one.
“At a time when our nation is hurting and many feel hopeless, why on earth would Mikey Weinstein attack prayer?” Mike Berry, a lawyer for the First Liberty Institute, told Fox News.
“America has the strongest military in history, but our brave service members are not immune to the havoc COVID-19 has wreaked.”
“I cannot believe the legendary U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division raised the white flag of surrender to an anti-religious freedom zealot. Every president, from Washington to Trump, has publicly prayed for our military. If the commander in chief can pray, then our soldiers can, too.”
But there wasn’t even actual praying in any of the videos, though. You don’t hear the actual prayer. What you see is a chaplain doing what chaplains are often known to do.
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