With all the attention being given to the radical fundamentalist brand of Christianity espoused by churches like that of Sarah Palin -- a brand of Christianity practiced by a minority of American Christians -- I'm extremely happy to be able to write something about an organization that represents the views of the far more numerous mainstream and progressive Christians in our country.
This week, the California Council of Churches IMPACT (CCCI) announced its formal endorsement of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), and its intent to support MRFF and file an amicus brief in MRFF's federal lawsuit against the Department of Defense.
CCCI is the advocacy arm of the California Council of Churches, a coalition consisting of 21 denominations representing 5,500 congregations and 1.5 million members within the mainstream and progressive Protestant community. The denominations themselves have over 6.5 million members in California alone.
CCCI Board President Rev. John Freesemann said of the endorsement:
"Our alignment with the Military Religious Freedom Foundation is on behalf of religious freedom for all people, regardless of belief or non-belief. It is not the function of the U.S. Military to proselytize our troops but to protect our constitutional freedoms."
MRFF Founder and President Mikey Weinstein lauded CCCI's announcement:
"This hard-earned and terrific universal endorsement from a huge Christian organization as well respected as California Council of Churches IMPACT formidably buttresses the credibility and effectiveness of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) on so very many different levels. Such forthright support is a clear rebuttal to those disgraceful unconstitutional forces who have so often sought to deliberately malign and portray us as 'anti-Christian.' We, at MRFF, offer our most profound gratitude to our Christian brothers and sisters at CCCI for being the first major Christian organization to have the collective courage, character, integrity, soul and compassion to proudly stand with MRFF and our ever-growing thousands of U.S. armed forces clients in support of the bedrock religious liberties mandated by our beautiful U.S. Constitution."
What comes as a surprise to most people is that 96% of the thousands of service men and women who have contacted MRFF for assistance are Christians themselves -- but not the right kind of Christians for a military that promotes a very narrow fundamentalist brand of Christianity.
"CCCI's support of MRFF also underscores that our basic mission is not at all about waging a war against Christianity; rather it is about upholding the foundational laws outlined in Clause 3, Article 6 of the United States Constitution (specific prohibition of a 'religious test') and the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights (establishing a wall of separation between church and state). Without that clear wall of separation of church and state in the U.S. military, continued unconstitutional violations recklessly embolden terrorist extremists by sending an unmistakable message that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are really about Christianity versus Islam; essentially a modern day Crusade."