Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRRF) complained that the prayer videos comprised of “illicit proselytizing” of Christianity. After this, military chaplain videos that offer prayer during the COVID-19 pandemic have been removed from Facebook.
According to Fox News, MRFF founder and president Mikey Weinstein sent a demand letter. In it, he claims that the videos violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Consequently, this led to the removal of recent videos involving chaplains Cpt. Amy Smith and Maj. Scott Ingram. The Army’s 10th Mountain Division Sustainment Brigade at Fort Drum, N.Y. posted the said videos on their Facebook page.
“These videos belong only on a chapel page, not on a base’s or unit’s main page,” MRFF’s Chris Rodda wrote. The group “has been seeing an uptick in a particular type of complaint, Rodda added. He described them as “overt proselyting videos on official military Facebook pages.”
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Prayer Videos: Proselytizing or A Form of Expression?
I enjoyed these videos!
The MRFF takes away from many for the interest of a few. And Facebook is one of their tools.
Army chaplains' prayer videos during coronavirus removed from Facebook after complaintshttps://t.co/xzHDKuTriY
— Judi B (@JudiBUSA) April 24, 2020
One of the videos had Smith discussing the Fort Drum Spiritual Fitness Trail. “You are invited to pray, to pray for the family, to pray for the sick, and to pray for our leaders.”
“God encourages us not to be dismayed by what we see around us, things we cannot control,” Ingram said. “We can, however, with the best intel in this moment, place our trust in him, walk forward in his strength, and treat others with kindness.”
Also, according to MRFF, the army division removed the videos a few hours after they sent the demand letter.
“I personally spoke on the phone this morning to the senior leadership staff of [Maj. Gen.] Brian Mennes, the 10th’s Commanding General, as well as subordinate senior staff of [Col.] Matt Bresko, the Commander of the 10th Mountain Division Sustainment Brigade,” Weinstein also said in a statement.
“These senior Fort Drum staffers were professional and courteous and seemed to understand well the position of MRFF in advocating for our active duty Army clients under their command.”
His group had “to make these obviously valid demands to ensure church-state separation,” according to Weinstein. He then said the move was made on behalf of personnel who are afraid to bring these issues up. More specifically, they did it “on behalf of aggrieved Army personnel who justly fear reprisal, retribution, revenge, and retaliation for taking their grievances up the chain of command.”