That time of year is upon us once again — that joyful season when crusading Christian military commanders bent on bringing all of their subordinates to Jesus abuse their authority to compel all to have a merrily mandatory Christmas. Often, this is done in the form of a commander’s Christmas party, which all unit members are expected to attend, lest they end up in the “naughty” column on their commander’s “naughty or nice” list (a distinction that, in all seriousness, could negatively affect their careers).
In this story, the commander, who, according to two Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) installation representatives in the unit, “belongs to a well known Christian proselytizing organization whose express mission is to spread The Gospel of Jesus Christ in the military community,” was planning his annual “Christmas Extravaganza Party.” This “party,” as described by the MRFF reps, who had been at it the two previous years, is “more like a solemn Christmas religious service and less like a party,” with “chaplains who lead sectarian Christian prayers” and only the most religious of Christmas carols sung.
And, of course, attendance was not to be optional, with the commander saying he expected the unit’s “full participation” at “my Christmas Extravaganza Party.”
But this year, 47 members of the unit (36 of whom are Christians, as are the two MRFF reps) decided to put a stop to their commander’s torturous tradition, calling upon the MRFF reps to represent them. With threats of bringing in Mikey Weinstein and the full force of MRFF, the commander at length relented, reluctantly agreeing to the demands of the MRFF reps and their 47 clients to rename the event and make it inclusive of all.
The story doesn’t end there, however. The true insanity didn’t occur until a few days later. As the MRFF reps reported in an e-mail to Mikey Weinstein (emphasis added):
“Several days later at a previously scheduled mandatory unit gathering, our Commander started the meeting off by getting all jacked about what had happened with our demands. He started loudly yelling about what had gone down with the new name change and other inclusive changes for ‘his’ Christmas event and the new emphasis on inclusion and diversity. He said that the ‘globalist War on Christmas’ had no place in his unit and that ‘Christmas is for everybody anyway.’ He then said that he knew that many in our unit were as equally pissed off as he was. And that they should direct and vent their rage against ‘that anti-Christian terrorist Mikey Weinstein and the anti-Christian MRFF.’ He then had the screen projector show a picture of Mikey with his 800 phone number at the MRFF plainly visible.”
But this Christmas-crazed commander wasn’t done yet. He continued his raucous retaliatory rant by telling the unit’s members to contact their members of Congress in support of Christian nationalist Rep. Mike Turner’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) amendment to shut MRFF down by making it illegal for military members to contact or respond to MRFF (a measure that is still up in the air with the NDAA still in conference and the final bill not having been passed yet). As the MRFF reps wrote in their e-mail to Mikey (emphasis added):
“Our Commander then additionally advised all attendees to contact their Members of Congress as Congress was ‘just this far away’ (he held up his left thumb and left forefinger to indicate a very short distance) from finally accomplishing the banning of MRFF from even existing anymore. He even told everyone that this was his personal Christmas wish for this year.”
When I first heard about this commander putting a picture of Mikey up on the screen, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the time, over a decade and a half ago now, when a prominent fundamentalist mega-church pastor put Mikey’s picture up on the large screen TVs in his church, dubbing him the “Field General of the Godless Armies of Satan.” As outrageous as that was, that was a civilian pastor, who was free to do it. This is a freakin’ military commander, which is an altogether different matter!
Here is the entire e-mail from the two MRFF reps, who we all should congratulate on a job well done!
From: (MRFF Reps’/Clients’ e-mail address withheld)
Subject: Our Commander calls Mikey and MRFF "Anti-Christian Terrorists" after renaming of unit's "Christmas Extravaganza Party"
Date: December 1, 2023 at 5:02:50 PM MST
To: Mikey Weinstein <email@example.com>
Hello Mikey and all of our colleagues at the MRFF.
The undersigned are both MRFF representatives at a large U.S. military installation. We both happen to be practicing Christians however from different denominations.
Please keep any of our identity information redacted from this communication for the obvious reasons of avoiding retaliation.
We are not actually requesting Mikey or MRFF’s additional specific help on this matter at the moment as we have already been able to use our positions as MRFF reps on our military installation as a force multiplier to get our Commander to take the action we demanded from him. But we wanted you all to know what just went down anyway.
It’s just so disgraceful!
Our unit has a distinct combat mission and is fairly large and very diverse. Like most military units It is comprised of outstanding personnel from many different ethnicities, religions, cultures, theologies or lack thereof and related personal backgrounds.
Our Commander is a well known supporter of evangelical Christianity, especially never missing an opportunity to try to spread it in uniform and on duty using his rank and influence. He belongs to a well known Christian proselytizing organization whose express mission is to spread The Gospel of Jesus Christ in the military community.
In past years he has made it clear that he expected the unit’s “full participation” at “my Christmas Extravaganza Party”. Having been at the last 2 of these we can assure you that these gatherings are more like a solemn Christmas religious service and less like a party. There are chaplains who lead sectarian Christian prayers and New Testament bible readings at these events and the only Christmas carols on tap to be sung by all attendees are the most sectarian possible. No “Jingle Bells”, “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" or “Frosty the Snowman”. Just "Joy to the World", "Silent Night”, “Hark The Herald Angels Sing" and "Come All Ye Faithful" and the like. So much for morale, discipline good order and especially unit cohesion. So many attendees have felt badly alienated and ostracized. But what could we all do? It’s essentially mandatory to attend as per our Commander’s “full participation expectation”.
So this year we were asked by 47 active duty military members here at our installation to request that this agonizing event be renamed and reorganized IAW [in accordance with] all of the diversity, equity and inclusion principles of our service branch and DoD. As well as on-point service branch regulations and the Core Values of our service branch. 36 of our 47 MRFF clients are either Protestant or Catholic. 4 are Jewish, 2 are Islamic. 1 is Buddhist, 1 is Sikh and 3 self-identify as Atheist or Agnostic. At the top of our demand list to the Commander was to rename the event as our unit “Holiday Season Party” and to deep-six the name of “Christmas Extravaganza Party”.
We requested to meet with our Commander but somehow he was constantly “unavailable”. Instead he had us meet with his “Christmas Event Coordination Team”. After a pretty contentious 2 hour-plus meeting, including serious threats by us to bring in Mikey personally and the MRFF full force to achieve our goals, it was agreed to rename and reorganize the event to make it secular and inclusive for all unit attendees as per our demands. Clearly nobody from Command wanted the MRFF to roll in and engage any further which frankly we found to be delightful! We were so happy we had prevailed!
Our happiness was short-lived, however.
Several days later at a previously scheduled mandatory unit gathering, our Commander started the meeting off by getting all jacked about what had happened with our demands. He started loudly yelling about what had gone down with the new name change and other inclusive changes for “his” Christmas event and the new emphasis on inclusion and diversity. He said that the "globalist War on Christmas” had no place in his unit and that “Christmas is for everybody anyway". He then said that he knew that many in our unit were as equally pissed off as he was. And that they should direct and vent their rage against “that anti-Christian terrorist Mikey Weinstein and the anti-Christian MRFF”. He then had the screen projector show a picture of Mikey with his 800 phone number at the MRFF plainly visible. Our Commander then additionally advised all attendees to contact their Members of Congress as Congress was “just this far away” (he held up his left thumb and left forefinger to indicate a very short distance) from finally accomplishing the banning of MRFF from even existing anymore. He even told everyone that this was his personal Christmas wish for this year.
Most people at this meeting seemed shocked by these rage antics by our Commander. People were looking around at each other with confusion, fear and even embarrassment by what he was screaming about. Needless to say no one is particularly looking forward to this mandatory “party” given the unjustified wrath displayed by our Commander towards Mikey and the MRFF. And we presume the two of us as installation MRFF reps as well.
We all want to thank Mikey and the whole of MRFF for always being there for us. Through the years the MRFF has intervened successfully many times at our particular military installation. Were it not for the MRFF we would never have had the resolve to stand up to our Commander in the first place on behalf of our 47 MRFF clients and comrades-in-arms. If any of us get any personal blowback from our Commander or his lackeys we will immediately ask for MRFF’s help in fighting back.
(Names, ranks, titles, unit, and installation of both MRFF Reps withheld)