An Air Force general who sent a fundraising letter touting a Colorado Springs candidate for Congress as having a "good Christian influence" is the latest target of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.
The Air Force has launched an investigation over the e-mailed fundraising letter, sent last week by Maj. Gen. Jack J. Catton to promote Bentley Rayburn, one of seven Republicans running to replace U.S. Rep. Joel Hefley. Catton, a 1976 Air Force Academy classmate of Rayburn, is stationed at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia and sent the letter to more than 200 former classmates.
"We are certainly in need of Christian men with integrity and military experience in Congress," Catton wrote. "For those of us who are Christians, there is that whole other side of the coin that recognizes that we need more Christian influence in Congress."
Military rules prohibit active military from endorsing or soliciting campaign donations for a candidate for public office. Last Saturday, Catton told the Washington Post that he should not have sent the e-mail from his government computer. "I immediately sent out a recall of that e-mail, because I shouldn't have sent it out on my work computer, because it's inappropriate," he said.
However, Mikey Weinstein, the president and founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, maintains that Catton's communiqu constitutes a violation of the military's rules, regardless of the computer used.
"The Department of Defense directive is that this Air Force officer is on active duty, not which type of computer he's using," says Weinstein.
Himself a graduate of the Air Force Academy, Weinstein is suing his alma mater over what he says is a climate of religious intolerance. Neither he nor his Military Religious Freedom Foundation has taken any legal action specifically regarding Catton's e-mail.
Weinstein, who was profiled in the March 2 Independent, formed the MRFF earlier this year to wage battles against religious discrimination throughout the military. Stories about him and the organization can be accessed online at csindy.com/csindy/2006-03-02 and csindy.com/csindy/2006-03-09.