The last thing we need now is to make this a Christian v. Islam thing. Jason Leopold has a piece noting Mikey Weinstein, the founder and president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, weighed in on the shooting rampage at Fort Hood.
Weinstein called upon President Obama to immediately issue a statement as Commander-in-Chief making it clear that there would be a zero tolerance policy against any member of the US military "inflicting harassments, retribution or reprisal against an Islamic member of the US military."
Obama issued a statement earlier Thursday condeming the shootings.
Weinstein, whose civil rights organization was recently nominated for the 2010 Nobel Peace prize, said Obama must state, unequivocally, that the US does not judge the worth of a "service member based on his or her religious faith."
Weinstein’s group has exposed the meteroric rise of fundamentalist Christianity within the US military and has called attention to the fact that military personnel have sought to cast the war in Iraq and Afghanistan as a crusade between Christianity and Islam.
Weinstein, an honor graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, former White House counsel during the Reagan adminsitration and former General Counsel to H. Ross Perot, said religious intolerance within the military is widespread and continues to get worse.
He said less than 24-hours before the shooting rampage at Fort Hood, he received a call from a cadet at the US Military Academy at West Point speaking on behalf of about 40 other cadets and staff at the Military Academy about "all but unbearable fundamentalist Christian pressure and perscution" at the school.
The West Point cadet enlisted MRFF’s assitance in trying to get the Military Academy to change the name of one of its 32 Corps of Cadets companies–Cadet Company C-1, also known as the "Crusaders."
"MRFF demands that the US Military Academy at West Point immediately flush away the name ‘Crusaders’ and destroy and discard the stereotypical Crusader uniform," worn by Cadet Company C-1’s mascot often on national television at major sporting events, including NCAA football. The uniform consists of the full body armor, including a shield with a cross on it, of an actual Christan crusader from the 11th century.
Weinstein noted that MRFF has about 18 active cases at Fort Hood involving soldiers who allege they have been subjected to non-stop fundamentalist Christian proselytization.
"Fort Hood is one of our worst hot spots of the nearly 1,000 US military installations scattered around the world in approximiately 132 countries," Weinstein said. "We’ve had a particular problem with the public elementary school that’s actually situated on the installation where children of soldiers have been continuously proselytized to."
Maj. Hasan, according to the New York Times, had allegedly been harassed by fellow soldiers because he was Muslim.
"It’s obviously too early to know what all the salient facts are," Weinstein said. "But MRFF is the only subject matter expert on planet earth that can speak authoritatively with regard to the effects that religious persecution has on members of the US military, particularly those of minority faiths like Islam. It would absolutely strain credulity to presume that this clearly sick perpetrator’s actions had nothing at all to do with the fact that his faith may possibly have been Islamic."