The above question is a mouthful, but a truthful expression of how I thought and felt when I read the following release from Todd Starnes, the host of Fox News and Commentary. The news release was entitled: “Opinion: Boykin bounced: Fort Riley cancels Delta Force hero’s prayer breakfast speech.”
Fort Riley in Kansas cancelled an upcoming prayer breakfast because of pressure from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation created by Mickey Weinstein who said the idea of Gen. Jerry Boykin speaking “caused great angst among soldiers at Fort Riley – leading some to break down in tears; I have clients of ours weeping on the phone about this.”
Weinstein labeled/slandered Gen. Boykin as a “homophobic, Islamaphobic, fundamentalist Christian extremist” who “sows hatred and heinous divisiveness with his sickening creed of fundamentalist Christian supremacy, primacy, exclusivity, and triumphalism.” He also said the general was a “World Class bigot” and threatened to sue unless Boykin was ejected.
Gen. Boykin commented, “This should tell you how difficult it is for Christians, and especially chaplains, to live their faith in our military.” A Fort Riley Public Affairs spokesman said that “in an effort to ensure everyone in our broad and very diverse community feels welcome at any event on Fort Riley, we will pursue the invitation of a different speaker for the prayer breakfast once it is rescheduled.”
As the Fox commentator says, “Mr. Weinstein makes a very comfortable living by bullying the military into eradicating public displays of the Christian faith within the Armed Forces.”
In an interview with The Philadelphia Jewish Voice Weinstein, who describes himself as a Jewish agnostic, is in his own words at war with “a small subset of evangelical Christianity – about 12.6% of the American public, about 38 million Americans – the Premillenial, Dispensational, Reconstructionist, Dominionist, Fundamentalist Evangelical Christians who believe they have an unlimited right to push their particular biblical worldview (the gospel of Jesus Christ) irrespective of time, place, and manner, regulation by our Constitution of any other type of law.” He also claimed that such Christians believe we have the right to scream ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.”
He asserted that he had at that time (Feb., 2008) “6,800 active duty members” of the military who had come to his foundation “pretty much as spiritual rape victims/tormentees.” He mentioned the supporters of Hitler and Stalin while calling this 38 million “subset” of Christianity “a Christian Taliban.” He described the present Republican Party as “a terrible, bludgeoned, tortured, sickening version of a fascist theocracy.”
Mickey Weinstein pictures his foundation as “a weapon” which he characterizes as “a militant organization” whose “job is to kick ****, take names, lay down a withering field of fire, and leave sucking chest wounds on this unconstitutional heart of darkness, if you will, this imperious fascistic contagion of unconstitutional triumphalism.”
He has pointedly said about one former navy chaplain: “I would like to beat the **** out of him in a boxing ring or in an alley behind a Safeway.” He personally lambasted Sarah Palin as a “virulently homophobic, virulently misogynistic, virulently anti-Semitic and Islamophobic … premillennial … evangelical, fundamentalist Christian.” He blames Christians for the Holocaust and Inquisition and the “four Crusades,” and accuses Christians for wanting a “Talibanisation” of the U.S. Marine Corps.
How do we respond as Christians to such an over-the-top onslaught from such seething, scolding-hot volcanic vehemence? It was most helpful for me that I was preparing a sermon on “How To Get Angry Without Being Sinful” when I read about Mr. Weinstein’s castigation of Christians. I thought of how we as Christians must never give in to anger and express ourselves as he does!
We must remember what the Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:29: “No foul language is to come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear. And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit … all bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another just as God also forgive you in Christ.”
We must defend ourselves from such fallacious and ludicrous characterizations promoted not just by Weinstein and his organization. First and foremost, we must take to heart what Peter wrote in I Peter 3:15-16: “Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. However, do this with gentleness and respect, keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are accused, those who denounce your Christian life will be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.”
As a Christian and American, I believe that neither the Bible nor the Constitution should be misrepresented or misapplied. I believe in speaking out, prayerfully and carefully, in response to those who misuse either! Our Baptist identity is rooted in a desire and commitment to base everything on what the Bible says, not what church councils and popes have decreed.
With that in mind, I felt led to write a wee Open Letter to Mickey Weinstein in spite of my natural inclination to write him off as a man filled with explosive anger on an unholy crusade, a secular jihad, against Bible-believing Christians. I even threw out the print-outs on him; but I had no peace. Therefore, I will share with you my effort to write what I pray and hope is a “Christian” Open Letter” to him in which I endeavor, first and foremost, to express my anger but without sin! Easier said than done! Next time!
Part II will be posted next week.