On June 13, Congressman Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) introduced an amendment to the FY2014 National Defense Authorization Act. Huelskamp's amendment, with the heading "Meetings with Respect to Religious Liberty," was passed by a voice vote in the House.
This is the text of Congressman Huelskamp's amendment:
1 SEC. 5__. MEETINGS WITH RESPECT TO RELIGIOUS LIBERTY.
(a) NOTICE.-- (1) IN GENERAL.-- The Department of Defense shall provide to the Committee on Armed Services of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Armed Services of the Senate advance written notice of any meeting to be held between Department employees and civilians for the purpose of writing, revising, issuing, implementing, enforcing, or seeking advice, input, or counsel regarding military policy related to religious liberty. (2) CONTENTS OF NOTICE.-- Notice provided under paragraph (1) shall include information on the time, date, location, and anticipated attendees of the meeting and information on who initiated the meeting. (3) VERBAL NOTICE.-- If a meeting to which this subsection applies is scheduled less than 24 hours in advance of the meeting, the notice requirement under paragraph (1) may be satisfied by a phone call if Committee staff provide verbal confirmation of receipt of the notice.
(b) REPORTS.-- Not later than 72 hours after the conclusion of a meeting to which subsection (a) applies, the Secretary of Defense shall submit to the Committee on Armed Services of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Armed Services of the Senate a report on the meeting, which shall include information on the time, date, location, duration, and attendees of the meeting and information on who initiated the meeting.
Congressman Huelskamp, in a press release on his website, made no secret that the sole purpose of his amendment is to stop one man -- Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) founder and president Mikey Weinstein -- from secretly meeting with military officials to help orchestrate the Pentagon's diabolical plan to hunt down and persecute all Christians in the military.
After finding out about a super-secret April 23 meeting between Weinstein and Pentagon officials -- a meeting so secret that Weinstein, along with other meeting attendees MRFF board member Joe Wilson (the former ambassador) and advisory board member Col. Larry Wilkerson (Colin Powell's former chief of staff), told the Washington Post all about it -- Congressman Huelskamp obviously had to take action to stop such covert shenanigans.
Once the rest of us at MRFF finished congratulating Mikey on being so scary that someone had made him the subject of an amendment to a Defense Authorization Bill, we did stop laughing long enough to seriously consider what Huelskamp's amendment, if it does end up remaining in the bill and being signed into law, would actually mean.
Upon careful consideration of the wording of Huelskamp's amendment, MRFF has decided to fully support this amendment. Why, you ask? Well, let me explain.
Despite Congressman Huelskamp's blatant admission that the sole target of his amendment is Mikey Weinstein, this amendment, should it be signed into law, would to apply to everyone -- not just to the object of Huelskamp's affectations.
We at MRFF have long wished that the countless meetings that have no doubt occurred, and continue to occur, between military officials and civilians from the various fundamentalist Christian parachurch organizations, the civilian fundamentalist Christian organizations and individuals that are funded by DoD contracts to bring the troops to Jesus, the civilian fundamentalist Christian youth ministries that are granted permission to operate on military installations for the purpose of stalking and converting the children of "unchurched" military personnel, the civilians involved in the implementation of the military-wide glut of "spiritual fitness" tests and programs, etc., were not permitted to be kept secret.
All of these types of religious activities, programs, military spending, and the policies that allow them, are defended by their supporters as being necessary for the religious liberty of our troops, and the approval and implementation of such activities, programs, military spending, and policies would certainly require meetings between DoD employees and the civilian organizations and individuals involved. Therefore, the countless meetings that must take place between DoD employees and members of these civilian religious organizations and parachurch military ministries would clearly fit the criteria of "any meeting to be held between Department employees and civilians for the purpose of writing, revising, issuing, implementing, enforcing, or seeking advice, input, or counsel regarding military policy related to religious liberty" found in Congressman Huelskamp's amendment.
As Mikey Weinstein has no reason or desire to hide any meetings he might have with military officials, MRFF has no reservations whatsoever about supporting Congressman Huelskamp's amendment. The fundamentalist Christian organizations and parachurch military ministries that meet with military officials, on the other hand, might not be so thrilled with the prospect. But Huelskamp and his cohorts in Congress, the right-wing media, and certain so-called "religious liberty" organizations have never had a good grasp of the concept of things working both ways.
Take, for example, Congressman John Fleming (R-LA). Like Congressman Huelskamp, who included a list of twenty-five (mostly out of context) Mikey quotes in his press release about his amendment, Congressman Fleming has also made much of Weinstein's somewhat colorful language and use of metaphors. A particular favorite of this congressmen, along with the folks at breitbart.com, FOX News, and the Family Research Council, is Weinstein's use of the words "spiritual rape" to describe the type of degradation and humiliation that some service members have endured at the hands of their fundamentalist Christian superiors.
Congressman Fleming finds Weinstein's use of the words "spiritual rape" so completely outrageous and offensive that he's even taken to the airwaves to make sure the American people know about this completely outrageous and offensive thing that Weinstein said. On May 17, after sending a letter to Secretary of Defense Hagel demanding to know about Weinstein's well-publicized super-secret meeting at the Pentagon, Congressman Fleming appeared on the radio show of conspiracy theorist Rick Wiles.
On the show show, Congressman Fleming said to Wiles:
"And so it's very disconcerting to know that a guy with this kind of past, someone who openly hate Christians, who calls Christians the Taliban and al Qaeda and talks about Christians committing spiritual rape and many other derogatory things; it's very problematic for someone to get high-level meetings with the Adjutant General of the Air Force and other high-level officers."
Wiles, obviously as appalled by Weinstein's language as Congressman Fleming, responded:
"You know, Congressman, I'm a pastor and I would never use that kind of language in referring to people who have other religious beliefs serving in the military, I just think that kind of language is over the top so I can't understand why the Pentagon would be meeting with somebody talking like this."
Yes, Pastor Wiles would never use that kind of language! Well, except when he says things like "Barack Obama spiritually sodomized the US armed forces" and "Barack Obama has spiritually sodomized the nation." That's completely different! Wiles's "spiritually sodomized" metaphor is apparently just fine with Congressman Fleming since, you know, that was about the gays.
Congressman Fleming has also introduced an amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill. Fleming's amendment, which calls for the "protection of rights of conscience" (of Christians in the military to trample all over the rights of everyone else), has already been objected to by the Obama administration, but that's to be expected when the president, in the words of Congressman Flemings's buddy Rick Wiles, is "not just a smooth talking, jive talking, street thug that talked his way into the White House" but is also "demon-possessed."
MRFF, of course, strongly objects to Congressman Flemings's amendment, just like our "demon-possessed" president. Congressman Huelskamp's amendment, on the other hand, has MRFF's full support!