MRFF Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
(MILITARY.COM) “It’s one of those things — like an Academy Award — even if you don’t win you’re always a nominee,” MRFF founder Mikey Weinstein, a former Air Force lawyer, told Military.com Monday. He said he felt the nomination would boost the credibility of MRFF and expected those who support the foundation’s work will be reenergized by the nomination. He also predicted that those opposed MRFF will criticize it.
“My hope is the average American will look [at the nomination] and say, maybe there’s something we should look at here,” he said.
Weinstein worked in the White House as a general counsel lawyer during the Reagan administration. He established the MRFF in 2006 after first going to court over instances of proselytizing at his alma mater, the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, where his sons were cadets. Since then the foundation has been on the front lines of the fight against what Weinstein calls a “fundamentalist Christian, military-parachurch-corporate proselytizing complex.”
Air Force Academy officials did not respond to Military.com’s request for comment by publication time.
Weinstein has been criticized by some both inside and outside the military as anti-Christian or anti-religious. Some argue that Christian chaplains have a right and duty to evangelize, and view rules and regulation restricting those efforts as unlawful.
A redacted version of the Nobel Peace Prize nominating letter that recommended Weinstein is posted online but provides little information on the writer and does not identify the country of origin. The author states he is “the only Christian in [his country’s] Senate,” and so represents “an entire population that is disenfranchised and right-less.” The author says his country once was at war with the United States but is now an ally and “learned from the United States how best to defend and protect people’s most basic rights.”
“American soldiers were and are inspiration to us,” the author states. “Those same soldiers who stand for America need the MRFF to stand for their rights when theirs are under attack at home as the average American’s rights are under attack in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and at the hands of Al-Queda [sic] and other terrorist organizations.”
The letter goes on to state that because of his efforts Weinstein and his family have had their lives threatened and their property defaced and damaged.
Weinstein said that when he started MRFF “we knew we’d be in this fight for a long time.”
“I consider this recognition for all our efforts,” he said. Weinstein added that he could not reveal individual names, but he received congratulatory calls from some flag and general officers.
In California, Elizabeth Sholes, the public policy director for a state council of churches in Sacramento said she was happy with the MRFF’s nomination.
“We were very pleased because the [foundation] is essentially what its name suggests,” Sholes said. “It’s looking out for the religious freedom of all people.” The council she works for — representing 21 mainstream Protestant denominations with 1.5 million members — formally endorsed the MRFF’s work about 18 months ago.
Sholes believes the foundation is “very helpful stopping what we see as a pernicious intrusion of religion into the mission of the military, which as far as we’re concerned is to uphold the Constitution, not a specific version of religion.”