More than two years ago, Mikey Weinstein launched the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit government watchdog group that aims to keep a close eye on the military to ensure its adherence to the law mandating the separation between church and state, after his son, a student at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, was harassed about his Jewish faith and urged by other cadets and Air Force officials to convert to Christianity.
Weinstein is no military outsider. He describes his and his family's background this way: As a 1977 honor graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, Weinstein spent 10 years in the Air Force as a "JAG," or military attorney, serving as both a federal prosecutor and a criminal defense attorney. His oldest son and daughter-in-law are 2004 Air Force Academy graduates, and Weinstein's youngest son is currently a first classman (senior) at the Academy and the sixth member of the Weinstein family to attend the institution. Weinstein's father is a distinguished graduate of the United States Naval Academy.
Since he launched his watchdog organization, Weinstein has been contacted by more than 4,000 active duty and retired soldiers, many of whom served or serve in Iraq, who told Weinstein that they were pressured by their commanding officers to convert to Christianity, he told me during a recent interview at his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Weinstein said the military has been hijacked by a right-wing, fundamentalist Christian agenda, in what appears to be a clear-cut violation of the constitutional separation between church and state, that has rippled across all four branches of the military under President Bush.
"The rise of evangelical Christianity inside the military went on steroids after 9/11 under this administration and this White House," Weinstein said in an interview. "This administration has turned the entire Department of Defense into its own personal faith-based initiative."
Weinstein is, apparently, a conservative and a Republican. Still seems right to me on this one. I think I remember the days when conservatives (or some of them) believed in the Bill of Rights--that is, more than the Second Amendment.