Washington Gadfly

MRFF Ad Campaign Tells Obama ‘Jesus is Commander-in-Chief’ At Air Force Academy

Evan Gahr Investigative Journalist
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The Military Religious Freedom Foundation launched a multi-media blitz intended Tuesday to Wemple up Barack Obama’s U.S. Air Force Academy commencement address next week.

In scheduled television ads, a new billboard already erected on Obama’s expected motorcade route and an airplane banner, MRFF is asking, “Why is Jesus Commander-in-Chief” at the hallowed school.

But for Christians isn’t Jesus commander-in-chief everywhere?

Perhaps.

But MRFF president Mikey Weinstein is hoping to force Obama to address his contention that the USAFA is forcing fundamentalist Christianity on its young charges in violation of the Establishment clause and military regulations.

In recent months, Weinstein, whose hundreds of clients at the USAFA are primarily Christian, has recently upbraided school brass for allowing football team members to pray before games and dispatching its band to perform at an evangelical Church.

What is the big deal?

Citing complaints from cadets, Weinstein says these actions are illegal because they endorse Christianity and coercive because everybody is essentially forced to participate. In other words: nothing that your chain of command in the military supports is voluntary. That is why it is the military.

The billboard was erected Monday. MRFF says that for the two days preceding Obama’s June 2 speech it has contracted for an airplane to fly “all over the skies of Colorado Springs between 10:30am and 12:30PM” with a banner that says, “WHY IS JESUS COMMANDER IN CHIEF AT USAFA? MRFF.ORG.”

MRFF will also be “saturating the airwaves with a 15 second TV commercial 1,322 times from May 27 through June 2, 2016” on cable TV through Colorado Springs asking the same thing.

The campaign, sure to provoke much discussion, proved controversial before it was even launched. As reported exclusively here, his billboard was rejected on May 13 by Lamar Advertising for supposed factual inaccuracy.

But another company yesterday erected it, ironically enough, north of the interstate highway’s intersection with “Garden of the God’s Road.”

In any event, Weinstein’s depiction of the Air Force Academy deserves serious debate and scrutiny. It takes more than prayers at a football game to establish theocracy. If cadets can’t handle religious ceremonies that make them feel uncomfortable how can they fight in battle?

I can answer that one. They fight against our enemies. That is entirely different than feeling beleaguered by your own comrades. Forced prayers are arguably contrary to unit cohesion.

If Weinstein’s vociferous critics feel otherwise that is fine. But Breitbart News and their fellow travelers should stop playing identity politics by falsely stating that he is an atheist.

First of all, since when does Breitbart find atheists objectionable? Christopher Hitchens was an atheist.

More importantly, is Breitbart, which recently mistook Washington Beacon Founder Michael Goldfarb with author Michael Goldfarb, mistaking Mikey Weinstein with a “Michael Weinstein” who lives on the notoriously liberal Upper West Side of Manhattan.

The reality is that Weinstein, himself an Air Force Academy graduate, is about as much of an atheist as Attorney General Loretta Lynch was a lawyer for Bill Clinton’s Whitewater defense team in the 1990s. Far from being some kind of Godless left-wing activist he says the Shema, the lodestar Jewish prayer, twice per day and worked in the Reagan White House.

On the Iran-Contra investigation of all things!

Does that clear up the confusion? It is not clear if Jesus is commander-in-chief at the Air Force Academy or anywhere but he surely objects to people bearing false witness.

As for the guy who is legally commander-in-chief, his administration has already studiously avoided taking a stance on whether Christian Bibles should be allowed at POW-MIA display tables at VA clinics, despite inquiries from Congressional Republicans, including Ted Cruz, and prominent conservative organizations.

So it is doubtful that the president, who despite his post-partisan image is loathe to do anything that offends powerful constituencies, is going to answer Weinstein’s question about similar conflicts at the Academy.

Ken Klukowsi, who called Weinstein a “radical atheist”—are there moderate atheists?—in his Breitbart News story has declined interview requests.