Controversy erupted earlier this week when the Military Religious Freedom Foundation reached out to the media on behalf of 18 service members at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who were uncomfortable with some Nativity scenes set up in the on-base galleys.
Base commander Capt. J.R. Nettleton ordered them removed on Wednesday. On the following day, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly invited MRFF president Mikey Weinstein onto “The O’Reilly Factor” to ask him about the week’s events.
As you can probably imagine, things got ugly pretty quickly.
O’Reilly accused Nettleton and the complainants of being cowards; Nettleton for his decision, the complainants for not wanting to appear on his talk show.
Weinstein tried to explain that the complainants wanted to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal from their command or fellow service members.
He tried to explain the “tribal, adversarial, communal and ritualistic,” nature of military units.
He asked O’Reilly if he had ever served. O’Reilly said no.
Weinstein shot back that at least the complainants “joined the military and they’re prepared to fight.”
O’Reilly replied, “I covered four wars with a pen.”
Things got unwieldy after that, until O’Reilly asked his producer to turn off Weinstein’s microphone. But before the segment ended, he left the audience with this statement:
“I covered four wars with a pen, OK, Mr. Weinstein. So don’t impugn my courage ever again. You’re a weasel.”
What do you think? Does Bill O’Reilly understand the military?
Bill O’Reilly projects: He is what he accuses others to be. This one example, alone, couldn’t be anymore clear.
I love Bill O’Reilly statement; “you’re a weasel” and that truly is an understatement. What O’Reilly should have asked was did Weinstein ever serve in the military? My guess is no and this is another political correct jerk who has not compassion or understand of what religious freedom is let alone Christmas. And I agree, it was a gutless reaction and where are the so-called 18 protesters or is this a figment of Weinstein imagination? It is interesting how he stated protestants and catholics objected. Is that true or just a fabrication of his ideals. Whatever the case, Christmas will go on despite Weinstein and anyone else trying to destroy religious beliefs. To all who serve in the military a sincere Blessed and Merry Christmas. God Bless America!
I observed the debate over the nativity scene at the base at GTMO, Cuba. Mikey had an excellent opportunity to present his comments over the discomfort these military members had over the nativity scene and lost his opportunity by instead dodging the questions made by Bill O’Reilly. Why didn’t Mikey simply state the reason for the complaint by these military members. I have served in the military for 34 years and have never heard one complaint about a Christmas nativity scene being displayed on base. For those of us viewing this segment, it was pretty obvious those military members were Muslims or Atheist. I don’t see these people crying about nativity scenes asking to abolish the National Holiday of Christmas. If their convictions are so much that they would complain about the birth of a child Jesus nativity scene then they should follow their convictions and head to Washington to have Christmas Day removed from the Federal list of holidays. I am sure they will enjoy the day off though even though they complain about a nativity scene. I am disgusted with these military members that do not have the courage to step forward and present their views with the American people on a show like the Factor on Fox News. I have stood up from time to time to my leaders when I believed there was an injustice and held my course. They can do the same and Mikey needs to learn a thing or to about presenting a positive debate.
MRFF was right. The response coming from the right-wing media is precisely why these soldiers want to remain anonymous; they expect, with good reason, some higher-ups will take some kind of punitive measures against them for merely wanting the government to respect the Establishment Clause.
1. 18 service members were ‘uncomfortable’. Grow up! If you don’t want to look, then don’t look. You have donned the uniform to support our rights, including our right of religious freedom. The 18 complainers have violated the rights of others to have their nativity. Instead of violating the rights of others, how about you set up a religious display of your own.
2. Bill O’Reilly is a weasel. He proves this to be fact, every time he turns off someone’s microphone, and of course denies doing so.
3. I do fault the CO for ordering the removal of the nativity scene. Again, the offer should have been made for these people to erect their own display. I can only assume that these 18 people may be atheist, at which point, I suggest they learn to ignore these displays. One more thing, if hey were in my troop, they would also be working Christmas Day to cover for those who choose to celebrate the holiday, and by the way yes I know I would be discriminating but if you don’t believe, then for you, it’s not a holiday.
Now, I can imagine some bleeding hearts are chomping at the bit to let me know how wrong I am, so go for it. If I don’t agree with you, I can go to a different website, but I won’t strip you of your rights of freedom of speech. I too served, and fought to protect your rights too.
I’ll bet those brave 18 will be taking this Wednesday off for the Federal Holiday. Courage is what the Military is all about so, why are these 18 still here??
As a side note, those who don’t know Captain Nettleton are the ones calling him a coward. Those who do truly know him, know that he is anything but a coward. A true leader!
Mikey Weinstein and the MRFF are exactly right. I say that as both a veteran and a Christian.
The only principles that have any relevance in the debate are those which are stated in the US Constitution. That document is unequivocal that the government cannot sanction or favor one religion over another (or over no religion at all). By that measure, any religious display in a military dining hall is unconstitutional —- it’s really that simple.
Mikey Weinstein is a decorated Air Force Veteran and graduate of the Air Force Academy, as is his son. He is Jewish and speaks often about the religious discrimination he experienced while serving. His religious freedom foundation has helped expose and remedy religious persecution in the military.mmHe is a modern day religious crusader!
Mikey Weinstein is a decorated Air Force Veteran and graduate of the Air Force Academy, as is his son. He is Jewish and speaks often about the religious discrimination he experienced while serving. His religious freedom foundation has helped expose and remedy religious persecution in the military. He is a modern day religious crusader!
I’m a retired Navy Chief Petty Officer. I’m not religious nor am I atheist. I do believe that if we want religious freedom you have to give to get. If you want a Christian to be tolerant of your views you have to accept that they will expect the same thing in return.
As for the O’Riley Show. What do you expect of someone who makes his money by sensationalism. If the network didn’t support his antics he wouldn’t be on your screen.
As for cowardice. My opinion is that no one who hasn’t put on a uniform and actually dodged the enemies weapons should not be calling someone who has a coward.
While the one comment above stated that to abide by the law there should be no nativity scene in a military installation. I’m absolutely positive that is not what our founding fathers had in mind when they spoke of religious freedom. But, that is what we have become. No pledge of allegiance in schools. No prayer, even if the community supports it. No tolerance of others beliefs is exactly why there will never be religious freedom anywhere. To bad because I know and enjoy the company of people of most any belief. I just may not agree with their views about religion. I may, however, agree with their political view! (or not)
To the persons’ that make comments about someone being an atheist or muslim, your arguments are ridiculous. Our Department of Defense is a melting pot of ethnicities, religous beliefs, and personalities. We have to blend all of these things together in order to serve with honor, courage and committment. If we start to single out one person or one group, then we trump the core beliefs of our beloved military system. If they are offended, then we are in the wrong. Unit cohesion is paramount to a successful military mission.
@Jeff Peterson, if one is offended by a religious symbol, be it The Star of David, a Crucifix, or a Nativity Scene, us Christians are in no way at fault. The fault must be laid at the feet of those who failed to teach tolerance. As a Christian by birth, I was also taught by my parents mostly, but also by the church, that we are in a country built on tolerance of our differences. I mean let’s look at the peoples that came and built our country. I for one can not sit still and allow our government to ban religious freedoms, even on a military installation. As I posted earlier, either build your own scene, or look at something else. In other words, be as tolerant as you are asking others to be.
Wow – So many brave brave service members terrified by a little baby (Jesus). Please explain what it is that frightens you so? You’re all so (obviously) enlightened and far smarter than me. What is it about my backward religious beliefs that threatens you so – Oh great purveyors of tolerance? Hang your “Star of David” or your “Crescent Moon” – I promise not to cry.
Thank you Rabbi Smeershin. I have often wondered what really drives Mr. Weinstein and you have explained what is likely his root hatred for all things Christian. I have another Jewish friend who thinks very much the same way. For him, if anyone claims Jesus is the Messiah he takes great offense and has stated to me on several occasions that he considers any claim like you need Jesus to go to heaven as bigoted and discriminatory. I finally asked him what drives his opinion, and he said as a Jew he feels it is his responsibility to worship the One True God and defend his Oneness against all idolatries and that Christianity with its three gods (how he sees it) is a lie and an attack on Judaism.
So I have to wonder if Mr. Weinstein feels the same way. I find it very interesting he didn’t go after any of the Menorah displays set up in the military this past year.
It is false and cheap to claim those fighting for freedom “hate Christianity.” This is about freedom and equality, about the Constitutional rights of non-Christians. The fragility of Christians who burst into hysterics if not allowed to cram their views down the throats of others using public schools, the U.S. Military and other weapons is not only un-American, it’s un-Christian. The most basic thing that notes one as a follower of Christ is compassion towards others. If you cannot see this issue through the eyes of religious minorities and understand why these displays are completely inappropriate and hurtful, you’re not practicing Christian compassion. Religious displays belong in private barracks space or a chapel, not in space belonging to and used by us all.
so let me understand this, you can be a homosexual, be Muslim, etc.,but you can’t be a Christian in the military? this is sad to me that all other minority groups have the freedom to express tthemselves except for Christians. what a blessing to me that my God teaches me to love everyone.
Bill O’Riley is a coward, that is why he didn’t serve nor ever had a real job. I don’t pay attention to or listen to cowards like him.
What some folks seem to forget is that the nativity scene was later put where it belonged — the base chapel! The only coward in this story is the right-winger draft-dodger who stated he “covered four wars with a pen.” The sailors who stood up for their rights to express their beliefs have my support, as well as the commanding officer who had the courage to put the display where it belonged. I don’t need a display of my Savior’s birth in a retail establishment — it belongs in a place of worship and in our hearts! Get over it.