The 2013 Russell Bennett Award Presentation will occur on Saturday, September 21 at 2pm at All Souls Unitarian Church, 2952 S Peoria Ave in Tulsa. Our guest speaker for this event will be Mikey Weinstein, Founder and President of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation(MRFF).
The Russell Bennett Faith and Courage Award is presented annually to an individual or group who embodies Rev. Russell Bennett’s commitment to the Tulsa Interfaith Alliance. Rev. Bennett was one of the principal founders of the Tulsa Interfaith Alliance, and he was one of those happy warriors who was always willing to stand in the breach or to lead the charge on a long list of issues. This year’s recipient is Dr. Don Pittman, Director of the Interreligious Understanding Program at Phillips Theological Seminary.
We will honor Russ’ legacy with our program on that day. Our speaker this year deals with the very real threat to religious freedom that is occurring today in our military. From our military academies to the battlefield, from privates to chaplains, there is a concerted effort to impose a limited, dogmatic form of Christianity on all of our service members. In choosing this topic, we have tried to continue in Russ’s tradition of taking on tough issues, those issues that most divide us, and doing so with respect and with the goal of increasing our common understanding.
Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein, the Founder and President of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), will be the guest speaker for this event. His presentation is entitled “A Dire National Security Threat: The Destruction of the Wall Separating Church and State in the U.S. Armed Forces.”
Mikey is a 1977 Honor Graduate of the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) in Colorado Springs, Colorado. His oldest son and daughter-in-law are 2004 graduates, Mikey’s youngest son graduated in the Class of 2007 from the Air Force Academy, and Mikey’s son-in-law is a 2010 graduate from USAFA and is the sixth member of Mikey’s family to attend the Academy. His father is a distinguished graduate of the United States Naval Academy. Mikey spent 10 years in the Air force as a “JAG” or military attorney serving as both a Federal prosecutor and criminal defense attorney. As legal counsel in the West Wing of the Reagan Administration White House, Mikey was named the Committee Management Officer of the much-publicized Iran-Contra Investigation.
After stints at prominent law firms in both New York City and Washington, D.C., Mikey served as the first General Counsel to Texas billionaire and two-time Presidential candidate H. Ross Perot and Perot Systems Corporation. He left Mr. Perot’s employ in 2006 to focus his full-time attention on the nonprofit charitable foundation he established to directly battle the far-right militant radical evangelical religious fundamentalists: the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.
Mikey and MRFF have been actively and aggressively protecting members of the U.S. Military from unconstitutional religious influence in relation to their training, assignment, advancement, and retention since 2005. The Military Religious Freedom Foundation has received 5 Nobel Peace Prize nominations over the course of 4 consecutive years, including 2013, while serving over 34,000 clients (96% Christian and 4% Atheist, Agnostic, Islamic, Jewish, Hindu, Shinto, Buddhist, Wiccan, Native-American Spiritualist, etc.) during this relatively short period of time. Mikey was named one of the 50 most influential Jews in America by the Forward, one of the nation’s preeminent Jewish publications. As the only organization dedicated solely to protection of the religious freedoms and dignity of ALL members of the U.S. Military, Mikey was named one of the ‘100 Most Influential People in U.S. Defense’ in 2012 by Defense News (from Gannett Company, Inc., which counts among its publications USA Today, Army Times, Air Force Times, Navy Times, Marine Corps Times, Armed Forces Journal and Federal Times).
Assisting Mikey on MRFF’s Board of Directors and Advisory Board is an impressive array of military leaders, ambassadors, presidential cabinet level advisors, religious and historical academics, and one Nobel Peace Prize winner: http://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org/about/foundation-voices/
Click here to view MRFF’s most notable achievements.
Mikey and MRFF’s unsurpassed accomplishments and effectiveness on behalf of U.S. service members has garnered the attention of members of the U.S. Congress intent on protecting and advancing a de facto preferential religious status for a particular brand of Christianity often referred to as Dominionist or 7-Mountains Theology. Oklahoma Rep. Jim Bridenstine recently spoke on the floor of the House in support of the Fleming amendment that would undermine the work of the MRFF and others who are seeking to guarantee religious freedom for ALL who serve in our military.
If you care about religious freedom and tolerance in the USA, including our military, you will not want to miss this important presentation.