Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Bible approved for AFB desk

Posted By on Tue, Aug 23, 2016 at 2:24 PM

The Bible as it appeared on Maj. Lewis's desk. - COURTESY MRFF
  • Courtesy MRFF
  • The Bible as it appeared on Maj. Lewis's desk.
The investigation of a Bible placed at a work station of Air Force Maj. Steve Lewis at Peterson Air Force Base has concluded that the "good book" can stay just where he had it.

The Bible had been removed during the investigation, started on Aug. 15, and it's not known at this time if it's been returned.

At issue are complaints from service members received by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation about the location of the Bible, which sits on a desk in an area where many people work in the Reserve National Security Space Institute.

You can read our coverage of the issue here.

Today, we heard from Lt. Col. David Fruck, chief of public affairs for the 310th Space Wing, who wrote in an email:
As pledged, we have reviewed the situation there. We have concluded that no abuse of liberties has occurred, and Maj Lewis's behavior and the workplace environment at the RNSSI are well within the provisions of Air Force Instruction 1-1, Air Force Standards, paragraphs 2.11 and 2.12, "Free Exercise of Religion and Religious Accommodation" and "Balance of Free Exercise of Religion and Establishment Clause."
Fruck, when asked, says he doesn't know if the Bible has been placed at the work station again, but "the review allows him to have a Bible on his desk."

MRFF founder Mikey Weinstein called the investigation "a sham and a travesty," because Col. Lisa Johnson, the commander who approved the Bible's placement in the first place, apparently was the one in charge of the investigation. That hasn't been confirmed by the Air Force, however.
"This is a quintessential example of a disgusting conflict of interest," Weinstein says. He adds he plans to demand the Department of Defense Inspector General's Office conduct a separate investigation. "We can't find a single instance where the Air Force enforces Air Force Instruction 1-1."

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Bible removed from desk at Peterson AFB

Posted By on Wed, Aug 17, 2016 at 10:14 AM

This open Bible at a Peterson Air Force Base work station has been removed pending an investigation. - COURTESY MRFF
  • Courtesy MRFF
  • This open Bible at a Peterson Air Force Base work station has been removed pending an investigation.
In the latest issue of the Independent, we report that a controversy over religion in the military has surfaced at Peterson Air Force Base where a major has displayed an open Bible at his work station. His desk is located in an an open office environment where four desks are located and where dozens of members congregate during unit training assemblies.

We received a statement from Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, that ran too long to include in our print newspaper, so we're sharing it here.

Col. Damon Feltman has authorized an investigation of the issue.

Weinstein's comment:
The 310th “Space" Wing is NOT called the 310th “Space For My Personal Proselytizing Christian Bible Shrine” Wing for a damn good reason. Major Steve Lewis has created an around-the-clock Christian Bible Shrine on his official USAF workstation desk that has been in prominent static display for YEARS. The pages in his open bible on his USAF desk never change, ever. Thus, it is obviously there as a religious display to promote to others his Christian faith. This sectarian display is a disastrous travesty which completely serves all too well as an absolute textbook violation of Air Force Instruction 1-1, Section 2.12 as well as the No Establishment Clause and No Religious Test Clause of the United States Constitution. MRFF is very pleased that, pursuant to MRFF’s specific demand, this bible has expeditiously been removed from Major Lewis’ desk pending the the ongoing Commander Directed Investigation which MRFF also demanded. In my nearly 12 minute call with the 310th Wing Commander, Colonel Feltman, yesterday, he promised me that he would be open and fair in all of his dealings on this matter with MRFF and its 33 clients at Peterson AFB and Schriever AFB. We will hold him to his word. So far, MRFF has been impressed with his honesty and responsiveness.
If you want to read his letter to Col. Feltman, here ya go:
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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

6 bonus quotes from Mormon punk band Tartar Control

Posted By on Wed, Jul 20, 2016 at 1:20 PM


The two human members of hardcore Mormon band Tartar Control have a lot to say.

So much so, in fact, that there wasn’t room for all of our favorite quotes in this week’s Tartar Control interview.

You can go there to find the group's lead singer Robert Selander and guitarist-vocalist Sean Hart holding forth on everything from the missionary potential of Pokemon: Go to the construction of their own robotic bandmate.

Meanwhile, as a bonus for hardcore music fans and Mormon iconoclasts, here are six additional quotes that didn’t quite make the cut:

Sean on Mormon presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s 2012 defeat: “We were devastated. I thought for sure that he was a shoe-in. And honestly, this election season, I will be writing him in for president. And Robert will be doing the same.”

Robert on his and Sean’s high school band The Smiths: “We didn’t know that was already taken.”

Robert on Sean’s description of Tartar Control's debut CD cover: “What Sean said about Robot coming with us to Heaven, that’s not true. He can’t come.”

Robert on Leftover Crack: “For the first two years of listening to Leftover Crack, we couldn’t decipher what they said. And that’s really the fun of listening to punk rock, is decoding it.”

Sean on the vulgar elements in Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s The Book of Mormon: “They’ve done so much to bring popular attention to the church, but it’s a double-edged sword, I know. And we hope to be on the other edge of that sword, and hope to be equally as sharp.”

Robert on the importance of skepticism: “You can’t take everything we do literally. That’s silly. Who would do that?”

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Friday, June 24, 2016

UPDATE; City threatened with free speech lawsuit for Jesus ban

Posted By on Fri, Jun 24, 2016 at 1:47 PM

UPDATE: Mountain Metro Transit just issued this statement on the advertising matter:
A recent citizen complaint about certain advertising on bus benches has caused City Transit staff to undertake careful review of both the advertising and Transit’s current advertising policy in relation to the requirements of the 1st Amendment’s Establishment Clause. The Establishment Clause prohibits the endorsement of a specific religion or its tenets. Transit is working with the Office of the City Attorney concerning the matter and Transit’s advertising policy going forward.
————————ORIGINAL POST 1:47 P.M. FRIDAY, JUNE 24, 2016—————————

A local pastor says his church's advertisements on transit benches using the word Jesus won't be allowed anymore, because by allowing the reference to Jesus, the city would also have to allow hate messages, he's been told.

"They had one complaint," says Lawson Perdue with Charis Christian Center, "and because of one complaint, they said they're not going to allow me to use the name of Jesus in my advertising any more. If they allow me to do that, they said, they would have to allow hate messaging. They told me I could advertise my church but not the name of Jesus."

Perdue says he's spoken with someone at the mayor's office who stood firm behind the decision by Metropolitan Mountain Transit in banning the Jesus signs. He's also talked with four City Council members, he says, all of whom were "horrified" by the exclusion.

Mayor John Suthers' spokesperson Jamie Fabos says the mayor's office referred Perdue to the transit office and never passed judgment on the question. Perdue didn't say he spoke with the mayor himself.

The bench messages have said "Celebrate JESUS," "Experience JESUS," and "JESUS is Lord."
  • Courtesy Charis Christian Center
  • Barbara and Lawson Perdue.
The messages appear on 30 benches around the city, Perdue says. His advertising contract expires at the end of June, and he learned of the city's decision to bar the word Jesus when he contacted the city to renew the contract.
Perdue has contacted a "national" lawfirm with a 90-percent win record at the Supreme Court, and the firm has agreed to take his case.

He'll probably win, says Mikey Weinstein, who leads the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which works toward removing the influence of religion in the military ranks. While Weinstein often finds himself fighting against fundamentalist Christians who he says want to impose their religion through the military chain of command, in this case, he stands with the Charis group.

An attorney himself, Weinstein says the Jesus messages are protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble, or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.

"I don't like that at all," Weinstein said when told of the city's ban against the name Jesus. "I think that's wrong. To me, this is a violation of their First Amendment rights. We would caution the city of Colorado Springs to prepare for a lawsuit. I don't think this is one they're going to win."

The danger, he says, is if you silence one faction of public expression, "where do you draw the line?"

Perdue says he doesn't agree with some messages he sees on signs, "but I'm not complaining."

"It's just crazy," he adds about the city's decision. "That's why our nation was founded."

The Indy contacted the city and Mountain Metro Transit requesting comments, we will update this posting if and when we hear back.
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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Dobson calls for 'manhood' to deal with transgender bathroom users

Posted By on Tue, May 31, 2016 at 3:43 PM

James Dobson - FILE
  • FILE
  • James Dobson
 James Dobson, the evangelical former leader of Focus on the Family, has drawn the attention of Right Wing Watch, after calling for men to defend their wives and children against transgender people using the restroom, in a piece for WND titled "Protect Your Kids From Tyrant Obama."

Dobson was, of course, angry that President Barack Obama's administration instructed public schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom of their choosing.

"Did it upset you when the president of the United States ordered every public school in America to open all its bathroom facilities including those that are in use by a member of the opposite sex?" Dobson questioned. "The president’s order made me furious, and then sick to my stomach."

He goes on to issue a call to action to husbands and fathers, which sounds a lot like a call to arms:

If you are a married man with any gumption, surely you will defend your wife’s privacy and security in restroom facilities. Would you remain passive after knowing that a strange-looking man, dressed like a woman, has been peering over toilet cubicles to watch your wife in a private moment? What should be done to the pervert who was using mirrors to watch women and girls in their stalls? If you are a dad, I pray you will protect your little girls from men who walk in unannounced, unzip their pants and urinate in front of them. If this had happened 100 years ago, someone might have been shot. Where is today’s manhood? God help us!
Dobson goes on to say that Obama and feminists are trying to uproot God's plan, saying the Bible,  "leaves no doubt that the Creator made not one sex but two, each beautifully crafted to 'fit with' and meet the needs of the other." Ahem.

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Monday, December 28, 2015

Prayer allowed at USAFA games

Posted By on Mon, Dec 28, 2015 at 12:20 PM

The image of Falcon football players kneeling in prayer is apparently here to stay. - COURTESY MRFF
  • Courtesy MRFF
  • The image of Falcon football players kneeling in prayer is apparently here to stay.
The U.S. Air Force Academy has ruled football players' prayers in the end zone at games is allowed under its rule dictating religious practice and observance.

Much to the chagrin of Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation who protested what he called the Tebow kneel, named for Tim Tebow, a former Denver Broncos player.

Here's the academy's ruling:
The United States Air Force Academy places a high value on the rights of its members to observe the tenets of their respective religion or to observe no religion at all. Recently the United States Air Force Academy received a complaint about its football players kneeling in prayer. An inquiry was initiated, which found the football player's actions to be consistent with Air Force Instruction 1-1 and its guidance on the free exercise of religion and religious accommodation. The United States Air Force Academy will continue to reaffirm to cadets that all Airmen are free to practice the religion of their choice or subscribe to no religious belief at all. The players may confidently practice their own beliefs without pressure to participate in the practices of others.
So that means Falcon football players most likely will kneel in the end zone tomorrow when Air Force plays University of California Berkeley in Fort Worth in the Armed Forces Bowl, starting at noon mountain time on ESPN.

Weinstein called the academy's review of the issue "a pathetic sham and transparent farce of the highest order."

He continues via email:
Let us not forget that it was hardly a respected, deconflicted and disinterested third party entity or outside agency that inquired into MRFF’s charges against the Academy of unlawful, orchestrated, Christian-sectarian team praying by its football players. Indeed, having the Air Force Academy's very own Athletic Dept. essentially “investigate itself” in this sordid unconstitutional matter of fundamentalist Christian triumphalism and supremacy is about as "impartial and effective" as having Pol Pot “investigate" himself for his killing field crimes against humanity or having Bernie Madoff direct the “investigation” of his investment business for allegations of pyramid or Ponzi scheme illegalities.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Weinstein explains why he defends Muslims

Posted By on Tue, Dec 15, 2015 at 4:57 PM

Falcon football players pray before games. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Falcon football players pray before games.
Mikey Weinstein is a very unpopular person, especially among the hard-core fundamentalist Christians who believe in their heart of hearts that the United States was founded as a Christian nation.

The Air Force Academy alum who started the Military Religious Freedom Foundation about a decade ago takes abuse on a regular basis via email, phone calls, swastikas painted on his house and so on.

For a better understanding of his mission, take a moment to read this piece that appeared on this link with the headline, "This Republican Jew is fighting to defend American Muslims — here’s why."

We recently broke the story about the Air Force Academy football team kneeling in the end zone prior to games, praying even as they wore uniforms emblazoned with "Air Force." See our blog here. 

A spoof created by MRFF to drive home the point of whether it's appropriate to pray in public while representing the armed forces. - COURTESY MRFF
  • Courtesy MRFF
  • A spoof created by MRFF to drive home the point of whether it's appropriate to pray in public while representing the armed forces.
Here's a message sent to Weinstein recently by former Academy chaplain Melinda Morton:
I think it is helpful to see USAFA end zone praying as yet another "territorial conquest" of the Christian Right. This stands in a long line of conservative Christian usurpation of government space via supposed voluntary demonstrations of Christian piety. See praying "at the flagpole" in public schools, student prayers at graduations, public address prayers prior to high school sporting events. All of these demonstrations have in common the use of students or other non- government, and non-official individuals which engage in supposed voluntary and/or spontaneous religious piety at government sponsored events or in government regulated space. These demonstrations assert the cultural appropriateness of attaching a Christian power discourse to governmental action. They promote, by repetitive association within official government settings, the idea that culturally the United States is a Christian Nation and that the power of the US government ought be (and is) deployed in support of Christian perspectives.

Of course, in the case of the USAFA football players, conservative Christians have moved on from using unofficial actors and instead have embraced the use of official government actors (cadet football players). In this way the former locker room banner assertion that "We are team Jesus..." is now paraded onto the field, performed before the pluralistic crowd and displayed on television.

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Friday, December 4, 2015

See yourself as not separate

Posted By on Fri, Dec 4, 2015 at 3:04 PM

If awakening involves transcending this suffering world, we can ignore its problems. If the Buddhist path is psychological therapy, we can focus on our own individual neuroses. Yet both of those approaches assume and reinforce the illusion that I am essentially separate from others, and therefore can be indifferent to what they are experiencing. If “I” am not separate from others, neither is my well-being separate from theirs. Today this means that we are called upon not only to help other individuals deconstruct their sense of separation (the traditional role of a bodhisattva) but also to help our society to reconstruct itself, to become more just and sustainable—and awakened. 
That's a quote from David Loy from his most recent book, A New Buddhist Path: Enlightenment, Evolution, and Ethics in the Modern World.

According to local poet Robin Izer, Loy "is one of the most prominent voices in the Buddhist arena today offering engaging responses to the climate crisis and exploring how enlightenment, evolution, and ethics are merging to create a new path for sanity and sustainability of our planet."

And Loy's presenting a lecture titled "Why Buddhism and the Modern World Need Each Other" at 7 tonight, for free, in Colorado College's Cornerstone Arts Center.  

Don't expect the author and teacher to go too easy on attendees. On the event flier, he writes: "Will Western Buddhism end up all too compatible with our individualistic consumption patterns, with expensive retreats and initiations catering to over-stressed converts eager to pursue their own enlightenment? 

Hear his answer this evening. 

  • Shutterstock

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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

What's wrong with this picture?

Posted By on Tue, Nov 3, 2015 at 1:32 PM

This t-shirt was being sold at the BX at Fort Carson until yesterday. - COURTESY MRFF
  • Courtesy MRFF
  • This t-shirt was being sold at the BX at Fort Carson until yesterday.

Is this sentiment Islamophobic enough for you?

Believe it or not, this t-shirt was available in the PX on Fort Carson until late yesterday or early today.

Only after Mikey Weinstein with the Military Religious Freedom Foundation got involved was it removed from a store. The photo was taken on Monday. Maybe this t-shirt was made by the same folks who champion Ben Carson for president. (Carson has taken heat for saying a muslim shouldn't be allowed to serve as president of the United States.) Carson and his supporters apparently think there should be a religious litmus test for those who hold public office, a direct contradiction of the U.S. Constitution.

In any event, MRFF, with more than 200 clients at Fort Carson, jumped on the issue and had to go up the chain of command to some human resources department before the PX would require it's removal, Weinstein says.

Weinstein, who's asking the Army Inspector General to investigate, issued this statement:
On behalf of its almost 43,000 armed forces active duty and veteran clients, which includes approximately 13.5% of all Muslim-Americans serving in the United States military, and its 224 clients stationed at Fort Carson, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) expresses unmitigated outrage that the Army leadership at Fort Carson permitted the selling of that virulently Islamophobic and disgusting T-Shirt at its official Post Exchange store. The juxtaposition of that shocking image and text message on that T-Shirt epitomizes the wretched plight of prejudice and bigotry which innocent Muslim-Americans all too often suffer whileso honorably serving in today’s service branches.

MRFF has provided substantial testimony to the United States Congress specifically on this sad matter on more than one occasion.
The fact that this matter happened at Fort Carson, a major military installation which has had so many of its soldiers killed and grievously wounded in the War on Terror, only miserably magnifies the malfeasance of permitting that “Shirt of Shame” to be sold at its Post Exchange.

MRFF demands that the Army Inspector General’s Office in Washington D.C. initiate an immediate and aggressive investigation of this sordid event and that all Fort Carson personnel who either directly or indirectly allowed this travesty to happen be appropriately and visibly punished.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

UPDATE: Weinstein makes new demand of the Air Force Academy

Posted By on Wed, Aug 26, 2015 at 4:42 PM

UPDATE: The Air Force Academy spokesman says the school will not comment on Weinstein's demand.

———————ORIGINAL POST 4:42 PM WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 26, 2015 ———————————————————-

Mikey Weinstein, the crusader against religious bias in the armed forces, will ask the Air Force Academy to remove the words "in the year of our Lord" from diplomas for the class of 2016, which graduates in May, he tells the Independent.

Because, he says, "We all know whose lord that is; it's a special seal of approval."
Weinstein: Wants the USAFA diploma changed. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Weinstein: Wants the USAFA diploma changed.
The request comes not from Weinstein himself, but rather from a small group at the academy calling themselves The Spartacus Group, which pretends to be fundamentalist Christian to find a more hassle-free pathway through the academy, where favoritism of Christians is well-documented over the past dozen years.

Weinstein sat down with the Indy on Wednesday at the, well, we're not going to tell you, because the 1977 academy grad lives in a world of high security due to a constant stream of threats of violence against him and his family. His wife, Bonnie, wrote a book about all that. He's had the windows of his house in New Mexico shot out twice, slaughtered animals left on his door step, swastikas painted on his house, and death threats too numerous to count over the years. He's been called everything, to include a liberal, commie, satan-loving, atheist, gay activist. For the record, he's Jewish and prays in Hebrew three times a day, he says.

He stopped in Colorado Springs on his way to a family event somewhere else in Colorado, and we'll leave it at that.

Weinstein, 11 years after establishing the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, reports his organization now has 42,345 clients, 402 of them at the Air Force Academy. Most are Christians.
Spartacus, he says, contacted him to request he make the case on the diploma issue. This issue arose at Trinity University of San Antonio, Texas, a Presbyterian school, in 2010 when Muslim students petitioned to have it removed. We're checking on how the request was resolved and will update when we learn more.

Anyway, Weinstein says this group of cadets realizes that "in the year of our Lord" is a traditional phrase, but then, so was "Bring Me Men" over the terrazzo until the Air Force made the academy replace those words in 2004 amid the sexual assault scandal with the Air Force motto: "Integrity First. Service Before Self. Excellence In All We Do."

We've asked the academy for a comment on Weinstein's request, which has yet to be submitted, and will update if and when we hear something.

Meantime, Weinstein says the academy continues to be a cauldron of religious influence, with "para-churches" still active through the academy's SPIRE program (Special Programs in Religious Education). These include Campus Crusade for Christ Military Ministry, the Navigators and the Officers of Christian Fellowship, he says.

He also says it wasn't long ago that an academy staffer wrote 1+3=4 on the classroom board, explaining to cadets that one savior, plus three nails equals forgiveness. Another staffer put a big red heart on a classroom board this past Valentine's Day with the words, "Jesus Loves You," he says.

"There's a deafening silence from Michelle Johnson," Weinstein says, referring to the lieutenant general who currently serves as superintendent.

Although Johnson, he says, claims to have made a commitment to diversity and mandates training in religious sensitivity, then why does the diploma still carry this phrase, which some see as offensive or not reflective of their belief system?

Because, he continues, the academy is a hotbed of "fundamentalist Christian fascism and totalitarian oppression and tyranny."

"Fish in an aquarium never see the water," he says.

Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen Jr., superintendent at the U.S. Military Academy, on the other hand, has been responsive to MRFF's concerns, Weinstein reports, despite Caslen himself being an evangelical Christian. "He realizes there's a time, place and manner to follow the 'great commission,'" he says, referring to the New Testament directive to go and make disciples of all nations.

"We haven't had a single issue, because he understands this," Weinstein says.

Before dashing off to return dozens of phone calls and emails, Weinstein's parting shot is a quote of Frederick Douglass, the great abolitionist, who said, "Power concedes nothing without a demand."

He adds, "As long as I breathe, my goal is to be the demander to the commander."

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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Former Dem leader to give talk on Palestine

Posted By on Tue, Aug 4, 2015 at 10:13 AM

Many were surprised when Christy Le Lait, the leader of the El Paso County Democratic Party for six years, recently stepped down.

Le Lait is moving to Florida to be with family and try something new. Before she leaves, you can say your goodbyes to her on August 10 when she leads a talk entitled "An Atheist Democrat in Palestine." Should be interesting.


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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Klingenschmitt manages to anger his own party

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2015 at 2:54 PM

Rep. Klingenschmitt
  • Rep. Klingenschmitt
They say that no press is bad press, but Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt, R-Colorado Springs, may beg to differ.

When Klingenschmitt, who likes to call himself "Dr. Chaps," is not legislating, he's preaching on his online ministry, Pray in Jesus Name. The show's deeply offensive content about LGBT people and women (among other people and topics) has long been noted — like that one time he called a 6-year-old transgender child a demon — but apparently, didn't prevent Klingenschmitt from being welcomed into the Republican fold at the State House. (It did, however, get his ministry added to the Southern Poverty Law Center's anti-LGBT hate list in 2014.)

Anyway, Klingenschmitt recently crossed a line even most State House Republicans couldn't ignore when he claimed that an attack on a pregnant woman, in which her nearly full-term baby was ripped from her womb, was a "curse of God upon America for our sin of not protecting innocent children in the womb and part of that curse for our rebellion against God as a nation is that our pregnant women are ripped open.”

This didn't sit well with the woman in question, Michelle Wilkins, who lost her baby. She returned Klingenschmitt's $1,000 donation to her family. Apparently, it also didn't sit well with House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso, who removed Klingenschmitt from the Health, Insurance and Environment Committee as punishment. Others were also upset. Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs, drafted a letter stating that he believed Klingenschmitt's interpretation of the Bible was in error. Even Klingenschmitt has apologized for his statement and taken a six-week sabbatical from Pray in Jesus Name in order to focus on his work in the legislature.

Klingenschmitt has a few defenders who say he shouldn't be punished for speaking his mind on his own time — something Klingenschmitt also maintains. But others say the legislator hasn't been punished enough and that he should resign his seat. Not surprisingly, progressive group ProgressNow Colorado is in the latter camp.

ProgressNow Colorado Calls For Gordon Klingenschmitt’s Resignation

DENVER: After nearly a week since video surfaced of Colorado Springs Representative Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt’s outrageous remarks on the horrific assault on a pregnant woman in Longmont, ProgressNow Colorado, the state's largest online progressive advocacy organization, called on Republican leadership to call on Dr. Chaps to resign.

“Enough is enough,” said said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Amy Runyon-Harms. “Republican leaders in the House and Senate have had almost a week to hold Klingenschmitt accountable, and there he is, still representing Colorado’s 15th House District despite his offensive behavior.”

On Monday, House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso removed Klingenschmitt from one of his two committee assignments, saying it was one of the “few tools” he had for discipline [Denver Post, 3/30/15], prompting fellow Republican Justin Everett to call the move a gesture to “save face” on the House floor today.

State Sen. Owen Hill, another Republican from El Paso County, took the additional step on Monday to send an email calling for Klingenschmitt’s resignation.

Yet silent on the whole matter is Senate President Bill Cadman, a fellow Colorado Springs Republican, who represents Klingenschmitt’s district in the state Senate.

“There is more the legislative leadership could do if they just had the courage to do it,” added Runyon-Harms. “Every day that Klingenschmitt is in office is an insult to the people of Colorado.”

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Lamborn: My big fat abundant life

Posted By on Mon, Dec 15, 2014 at 2:10 PM

Lamborn is third from the left. - TWO C'S PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Two C's Photography
  • Lamborn is third from the left.

Congressman Doug Lamborn
is sending out Christmas cards that contain a photo of his family at a wedding (who got married isn't stated) with the headline, "It's a Wonderful Life..."

On the back is a seasonal greeting and then this: "...I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. — Jesus Christ."

The piece, mailed to an undisclosed number, was paid for by Lamborn for Congress. How much was spent isn't known, because the expense isn't discernible in his latest campaign finance filing, through the period ending Nov. 24.

The card came to us anonymously through a recipient/constituent, who took Lamborn and other lawmakers to task for not being more sensitive to those who don't have as much as they. Lamborn knocks down $174,000 a year as a congressman.

A note from the constituent made this observation: "Mark 8: 2-9 in my view, humble as it is, would be a good Bible verse for our wealthy elected officials to share." That verse states: "Jesus said to His disciples: 'My heart is moved with pity for the crowd...' He took seven loaves and a few small fish, blessed them and distributed them. About 4,000 people ate [and were filled]."

The constituent then noted the following prayer as one that lawmakers like Lamborn might want to ponder:
Oh, God, when I have food, help me to remember the hungry. When I have work, help me to remember the jobless. When I have a warm home, help me to remember the homeless. When I am without pain, help me to remember those who suffer, and remembering, help me to destroy my complacency and bestir my compassion. Make me concerned enough to help, by word and deed, those who cry out for what we take for granted.
Lamborn has taken up the cause not of the poor, jobless or homeless, but rather Christians. Last week, he spoke on the House floor in favor of a resolution regarding Christmas.

"Nine out of 10 Americans celebrate Christmas," he said, noting there has been a "troubling effort to remove symbols and traditions of Christmas" from public spaces.

For example, he said, an "anti religious organization" in Colorado filed a lawsuit last year against "school officials" for their involvement in Operation Christmas Child. (No lawsuit was filed, actually.)

Though he didn't say, it appears Lamborn was referring to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation's opposition to the Air Force Academy urging cadets to participate in that Christmas Child  effort. MRFF's founder Mikey Weinstein says no lawsuit was filed. Rather, he adds, "All we did was force the Air Force Academy to move the program under the chaplains and away from the commanders for the obvious constitutional reasons."

Here's an account from MRFF in November 2013 of what happened:
Yesterday, we were contacted by 120 cadets and 12 faculty members — 132 total, out of whom 118 are of the Christian faith, either Protestant or Roman Catholic. They reported that senior Cadet Commanders were issuing memos to the entire Cadet Wing (USAFA student body) urging cadets to vigorously and enthusiastically participate in “Operation Christmas Child,” a project of internationally-infamous Islamophobe Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse organization. Ostensibly meant to bring a bit of “Christmas cheer” to children in disaster areas and war-stricken nations, this missionary program masquerading as an innocuous charity uses deliveries of toys and toiletries as a Trojan horse to sneak Graham’s fundamentalist Christian ministry of Jesus Christ into “heathen” nations such as Japan, Libya, Haiti, and Iraq.

MRFF immediately jumped into action against this blatantly unconstitutional memo - and it wasn’t long before an official letter of apology was emailed to the entire U.S. Air Force Academy Cadet Wing on behalf of the Cadet Wing Vice Commander (the second-highest ranking cadet at the Academy).
Lamborn's speech went on to call groups such as MRFF a "vocal minority" and to note, "These petty efforts by groups offended by the religious significance of Christmas violate the freedom of religion our forefathers provided for us in the Constitution.... I have introduced a resolution to protect the symbols and traditions of Christmas for those who celebrate the holidays. We cannot allow those who choose to take offense to shut down the religious celebration of every other American."

Every other American?

From Weinstein:
Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) has truly outdone himself in terms of the breadth and depth of his Constitutional dereliction and his vituperative evangelical Christian sectarianism. Lamborn is a breathtakingly ignorant, World Class(less) fundamentalist Chrisitan bully, surpemacist and brazen bigot. He is even a disgrace to the gutter dwellers he is often compared to.

Firstly, it’s not the business of the United States military to mark, as he seems to imply, the “humble birth of our savior on a holy night 2,000 years ago.” Let me remind readers that those who serve in our armed forces solemnly swear to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; it is NOT their role to uphold one or another particular religious faith (or no faith) or its associated holidays and rituals.

Secondly, if Lamborn was implying that it was the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) which filed a lawsuit to prevent the participation of the U.S. Air Force Academy in Franklin Graham’s Operation Christmas Child (OCC), then that implication is absolutely false and is the product of either woeful ignorance or deliberate calumnious deceit. What did happen was that MRFF filed a complaint on behalf of 132 Academy personnel, the vast majority of whom were Christian, urging that participation in the OCC evangelical Christian fundamentalist charity be placed under the auspices of the Chaplain Corps, and not the Cadet Wing or other USAFA command leadership.

Lastly, MRFF is not a parochial atheist organization (about 96% of our nearly 40,000 armed forces clients are Christians themselves), but is a Constitutional civil rights organization devoted to stopping fundamentalist Christian predators like Rep. Lamborn who are quite literally 'hellbent' on seeing that not only civilian legislatures but the draconian spectre of military command influence is used as a crude and blunt instrument for unconstitutionally forcing helpless subordinate service men and women to accept their own sectarian, bigoted, and fundamentalist biblical worldview.

We asked Lamborn's spokesman how much in campaign money was spent on the Christmas card and how many were mailed, but haven't heard back. We'll update if and when we do hear something.

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Sangre artwork going into the 2015 Catholic missal

Posted By on Thu, Dec 4, 2014 at 11:51 AM

Cash's "Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe." - SANGRE DE CRISTO ARTS CENTER
  • Sangre de Cristo Arts Center
  • Cash's "Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe."
"Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe" a painting by Marie Romero Cash that belongs in the permanent collection of the Sangre de Cristo Arts Center, has been chosen as one of 21 images to go into the 2015 Roman Catholic Missal.

The missal, which is used in masses around the world, and according to Sangre, is mandatory in the United States, contains prescribed prayers, chants and other sacred instructions. Cash's work was chosen by the Conference of Catholic Bishops and approved by the Holy See in Rome. It will be used in the section devoted to the day of the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, set for Dec. 12.

Cash, a New Mexican artist, has created religious art since 1975, including commissions from the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe to create the 15 Stations of the Cross that was followed by a similar, smaller commission from Albuquerque's The Cathedral Church of St. John.

Cash's work was donated to Sangre by Bishop Arthur Tafoya as part of a group of 63 santos (images of saints or angels) he gave to the museum in 2011. It's part of Sangre's hefty collection of such artwork. "Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe" depicts the Virgin of Guadalupe (who appeared before Juan Diego in 1556, according to the official Catholic account) in vegetable paint on wood with a tin frame. Sangre will put it on display in 2015, with a copy of the missal.
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Monday, December 1, 2014

Updates on Mikey, Klingenschmitt

Posted By on Mon, Dec 1, 2014 at 3:36 PM

We've reported for many years on Mikey Weinstein and his campaign to uphold the U.S. Constitution's ban against government-sponsored religion in the military.

He's written a couple of books about his exploits, and now his wife, Bonnie, has come out with a book as well. The book is actually a compendium of hate mail she and her family have received due to Mikey's activities. The book is being promoted with billboards, like this one pictured below in California.

The sign was rejected by two billboard companies, Weinstein tells us, as being too inflammatory and vulgar, but a mobile billboard service agreed to display it.

Static billboards were also purchased that carry the same image of Bonnie Weinstein with the words: "What in God's name is happening?"

Speaking of Weinstein's exploits, last week, his attorney sent a letter to Gordon Klingenschmitt recently asking him to stop praying for Weinstein's and his family's demise as he has in the past, which gave rise to a federal lawsuit. That case was dismissed, because Weinstein couldn't prove that the prayers were directly tied to some of the threats and attacks on his home, such as when someone scrawled a swastika on his home. Then, Klingenschmitt sued Weinstein for defamation. That case is pending, which gave rise to this letter on Nov. 19:

Pretty interesting that Klingenschmitt now is complaining of getting threats against him. As reported by the Gazette earlier this month: "Maybe that includes me. Maybe I need to tone down my rhetoric, but there have been liberals who throw rhetoric at people of faith and I think are stirring up these crazy people on the left. They are inciting violence."

Speaking of Klingenschmitt, who was recently elected to a House District seat from El Paso County, he lost his case last week with the Court of Federal Claims in which he was seeking full pension benefits.

Klingenschmitt has claimed he was court martialed for praying in Jesus' name, but in reality, the court ruled, he actually was punished for wearing his uniform to a political event in violation of a direct order not to do so. As the court ruled:
The Order did not limit Dr. Klingenschmitt’s right to engage in any religious practices (including presenting an opening prayer at the event or invoking the name of Jesus in his prayer). It simply prohibited Dr. Klingenschmitt from engaging in this activity while wearing his uniform at what was clearly a political event and not, as Dr. Klingenschmitt seems to suggest, a bona fide religious service.
In the way of background:
Klingenschmitt graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1991 and served in the Air Force for 11 years before becoming a Navy chaplain in 2002. In 2006, he was found guilty of disobeying an order by wearing his uniform to a political protest at the White House in March 2006, according to the Washington Post. Simultaneous to that, Naval officials recommended his "involuntary release" from the Navy "due to lack of career potential," the Post reported at the time. The New York Times reported in March 2007 that he had been honorably discharged. A letter from the Judge Advocate General's Corp. to Klingenschmitt barred his "access onto all military installations within Navy Region Mid-Atlantic" after Jan. 31, 2007, according to Klingenschmitt has been quoted widely that his discharge after 16 years cost him a "million dollar pension."

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