FILE — Associated Press
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation has engaged in some pretty despicable behavior over the years — from demanding that the Baby Jesus be removed from military bases to complaining about Bibles on Missing Man tables.
But their recent attack on the airmen at Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota is so outrageous even the Grinch is wondering, "Dude, what the hell?"
The MRFF is infuriated because airmen were encouraged to volunteer with the Salvation Army to hand out food baskets and gifts to families in need.
MRFF founder Mikey Weinstein said he was contacted by 40 military personnel who felt humiliated and oppressed by the invitation to assist the Salvation Army.
“We have no issue with the Salvation Army per se here as the total fault lies with the Air Force commanders who are effectively ordering their subordinates to assist the Salvation Army,” Weinstein told me. “The Salvation Army is not at fault in this scenario.”
He blamed U.S. Air Force commanders who sent the invitation to volunteer and told me they should be “court-martialed” for what he called an “unconstitutional outrage.”
“They have completely ripped asunder good order, morale, discipline, and unit cohesion,” Weinstein told Crooks and Liars. “Our clients feel humiliated, confused and, and terrified.”
Weinstein, in a letter to the Grand Forks AFB public affairs office, called the invitation a "disgraceful civil rights violation."
To their credit, it appears the Air Force base has pretty much ignored Weinstein's Scrooge-like rantings. They did not respond to calls regarding the story.
First Liberty Institute jumped to defend not only the Air Force base but also the airmen who volunteered for the Salvation Army's Christmas event.
"Such participation is not only permissible but is consistent with the highest standards of the Air Force mission," First Liberty Institute attorney Michael Berry wrote in a letter to base officials and provided to "Starnes Country."
First Liberty rightly noted that MRFF's complaint is unfounded and unsupported by the law as well as military regulations.
"The Constitution does not prohibit active duty service members, reservists or Department of Defense employees from voluntarily participating in community service events with the Salvation Army," Berry wrote.
And military regulations clearly point out that volunteer service is permitted so long as there is no Department of Defense endorsement of any non-federal entity.
"Excluding the Salvation Army purely because of its religious identity and character sends the wrong message, and exhibits the kind of anti-religious hostility against which the Constitution guards," Berry noted.
The attorney pointed out that the Salvation Army is a well-known, faith-based, community service organization that is held in the utmost regard.
“Indeed, the Salvation Army, whose motto is ‘Doing the Most Good,’ meets the high standards required for inclusion in the Combined Federal Campaign,” Berry said, referring to the official workplace giving program of the federal government.
“The MRFF’s demands that you exclude such an organization from voluntary community service participation purely because of its religious identity not only defies logic, but is unsupported by law,” Berry wrote.
How sad that the cold-hearted Grinches who lurk in the dark shadows of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation's headquarters got their tinsel in a twist because airmen wanted to make sure needy children would be able to celebrate Christmas.
Bah humbug, indeed.