“Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
As founder and president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), a civil rights organization founded in 2005 to combat unconstitutional proselytizing in the U.S. Armed Forces, I don’t shock easily. However, a recent, truly SHOCKING allegation and charge by the American Family Association’s “Director of Issues Analysis” Bryan Fischer has parachuted well beyond the realm of error, landing roughly along the porous frontier separating blithering idiocy from criminal insanity. This fundamentalist Christian monster is a liar and I will prove it.
Recently, devastating reports dating back to 2010 have shown that athletes at the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) have participated in wild benders off campus involving binge drinking, drug use, sexual assaults, gang rapes and all manners of debauchery unbecoming of Academy cadets (indeed, unbecoming of human beings). Investigations at USAFA (which is my alma mater and the alma mater of four of my children) implicated 32 cadets, half of whom were football players and three of whom were later court-martialed and expelled. This news comes after the Academy was humiliated by a report released in January 2014 which showed that a massive 45 reports of sexual assaults came from USAFA in 2012-2013, compared to 15 at the U.S. Naval Academy and 10 at West Point.
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Many of us can see that the problem is rooted in a breakdown in good order, morale, unit cohesion and discipline among the ranks of cadets, as well as a USAFA campus culture long permeated in blistering misogyny and poisonous religious fundamentalism. Bryan Fischer proposes a different “theory”: the fault lies with yours truly, Mikey Weinstein.
In a recent article posted on Renew America, a so-called “grassroots” website founded by perennial electoral loser and Christian supremacist Alan Keyes, Fischer made the appallingly spurious claim that my constitutional advocacy is directly at fault for the oath-shattering epidemic of wild partying and sexual assault at the Academy.
Why is that?
Back in 2004, before MRFF even existed, ex-USAFA Football Coach Fisher DeBerry gleefully hung a banner in the locker room of USAFA’s football team, the Fighting Falcons. The banner bore a “motivational slogan” of a clearly sectarian nature, reading “I am a Christian first and last… I am a member of Team Jesus Christ.” Seriously, folks, I can’t make this up.
Cadets, staff and faculty at USAFA were livid, and for good reason. For many, this represented the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back at a USAFA campus that had earned a deservedly deplorable reputation for being a hotbed of Christian fundamentalist dominance and fanatical religious bigotry. One year later, while we may have well made obvious note of DeBerry’s nefarious action of Christian crusading at taxpayer expense, it would have been merely one among many religious assaults on the USAFA campus, clearly denoted in a lawsuit we filed against the United States Air Force.
Fast-forward nearly a decade, and not only has the reprehensible Christian supremacy persisted at the Academy, but we at MRFF are dealing with a constant stream of death threats and related grotesquely lurid messages, imprecatory prayers, and spurious allegations emanating from brimstone-tinged, rabid hatemongers. Bryan Fischer’s words fall deeply and quite deliberately into this category:
When the light of the world is removed, the world — including the locker rooms of football teams — is plunged into moral and spiritual darkness.
Bottom line: there is a solution to the Air Force Academy’s problems. Remove the cause — Mikey Weinstein and his atheistic trouble-making — and find another coach like Fisher DeBerry and turn him loose to bring the spirit of Christ back to the Academy.
I can flat out guarantee you that rapes will diminish, drug use will diminish, and cheating on tests will diminish. And the Academy will regain some of its lost luster. Your move, Air Force.
What is this idiot Fischer saying here? Well, besides the dog-whistle call for my “removal,” what we have is a claim that the glorious “Bryan Fischer-DeBerry Christian gospel” should be compulsorily forced on USAFA cadets. Otherwise, we can expect cadets to continue to rape, pillage, abuse drugs, and cheat on tests (and, according to Bryan Fischer, you can thank ME for it). These grossly base and vile lies from Bryan Fischer are akin to the claim that without racist white folks serving as a moral compass for people of color they won’t survive, or without heterosexuals leading gays, the LGBT community faces certain doom. Whether Fischer agrees with THOSE sentiments is a matter of speculation, but we wouldn’t be surprised if that turned out to be the case.
Let’s talk about timeline, shall we? I might add, at this point, that it is most critical to recall the initial USAFA rape and sexual assault scandal hit the national and international media like a cyclone and went viral way back in 2003, when the world learned that a mind-blowing 70% of female cadets reported sexual harassment and 12% were victims of rape. This was a YEAR BEFORE I began my active fight against the fundamentalist Christian tyranny at USAFA and essentially TWO years before MRFF was even founded. USAFA’s fundamentalist football coach, Mr. DeBerry, ignobly hung around for another FOUR years after that initial rape and sexual assault scandal! How do ANY of these actual, verifiable facts support the reckless lies and accusations of Bryan Fischer that I’m somehow to blame for USAFA’s ongoing rape and sexual assault disgrace?
This is far from the first time that Fischer has uttered such odious falsehoods and nonsense – it’s not without reason that his organization, the American Family Association, is listed on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s index of domestic hate groups alongside the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi organizations. Fischer has described gay sex as “domestic terrorism,” he has bandied about the foul trope that homosexuality and pedophilia are directly linked, and he’s called for kidnapping the children of same-sex parents through an “Underground Railroad.” Want more? Ok, in addition to calling for the removal of ALL American Muslims from the U.S. Armed Forces, last year Fischer ludicrously claimed that the U.S. military is preparing to wage war on evangelical Christians, who “may have to be neutralized by lethal force.”
Fischer’s words may be outrageous, dangerous, and laced with reckless disregard of any veracity, but he is far from alone in his putrid Christian extremism – and many of his ilk enjoy privileged positions throughout the U.S. military, including at USAFA. In fact, central to the dominionist Christian strategy to affect a complete takeover of the U.S. Military has been the frenetic fundamentalism at USAFA. Our client base at USAFA alone currently consists of 387 cadet, faculty and staff MRFF clients, 312 of whom are practicing Protestants or Roman Catholics. As a result of MRFF’s steadfast efforts of civil rights activism, the USAFA campus has been the site of a raging battle between the forces of secular, Constitutional democracy and superstitious, theocratic Christian fundamentalist extremism.
We at MRFF are proud to have won many significant constitutional victories at USAFA and throughout the entirety of the Department of Defense (DoD). It seems that Bryan Fischer is not a fan of MRFF’s ceaseless advocacy. His liar’s voice is one among many in a twisted choir of fear and visceral loathing summoned by our defense of the civil rights of our brave war-fighters, cadets, faculty, veterans, and DoD civilian personnel. More than a decade of experience in our bitter struggle against fundamentalist Christian fanatics and bullies in our nation’s armed forces has taught us all too well that the degree of our success can be measured by the preposterously false, over-the-top attacks publicly launched against us.
Let the record show that fundamentalist Christian monster Bryan Fischer is a liar, and I have now proven it.