Honored among "Forward 50," Mikey Weinstein battles religious proselytizing within military

November 17th, 2006

Forward 50
The Jewish Daily

Membership in the 50 doesn't mean that the Forward endorses what these individuals do or say. We've chosen them because they are doing and saying things that are making a difference in the way American Jews, for better or worse, view the world and themselves. Not all these people have put their energies into the traditional frameworks of Jewish community life, but they all have embodied the spirit of Jewish action as it is emerging in America, and all of them have left a mark.

Mikey Weinstein

An Air Force veteran turned church-state gadfly who compares himself to napalm, Mikey Weinstein has successfully trained national attention on the hidden phenomenon of religious proselytizing within the military. After warning last year that his two sons had felt religious intolerance at his alma mater, the U.S. Air Force Academy, the onetime Reagan administration official and general counsel to H. Ross Perot won an official investigation into practices at the school. When the Air Force finally issued a watered-down set of sensitivity guidelines last winter, Weinstein, 51, was one of a minority of Jewish voices who objected. This past year, Weinstein sued the federal government over ongoing problems at the academy. He also turned his one-man campaign into the not-for-profit Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which tracks church-state violations throughout the military. He's attracted a list of marquee backers, including Bush critic Joseph Wilson and his wife, ex-CIA agent Valerie Plame. And there's more: Last July, St. Martin's Press published his memoir, “With God on Our Side: One Man's War Against an Evangelical Coup in America's Military.” Later this year, Weinstein and his sons will be featured in a documentary about Christian-Jewish relations by Oscar-nominated director Oren Jacoby.

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