In defense, he says his mission — keeping the most powerful military on the planet out of the control of theocrats — is too important for niceties. He likens himself to bygone activists who have chosen more moderate paths than their ideological allies.
Lost in the mutual expressions of outrage are efforts by the military to address the abuses Weinstein helped expose at the Air Force Academy in the mid-2000s.
The academy now requires cadets to undergo two hours of training in their first and fourth years, and one each in their second and third, to help sensitize them to religious differences. The ADL helped develop the curriculum.
It is the mission of the military to ensure that troops “observe the tenets of their respective religions and respects the rights of others to their own religious beliefs, including the right to hold no beliefs,” said Col. Robert Bruno, the academy’s senior chaplain.
Weinstein is dismissive of such assurances, saying that any actions taken through the hierarchy are bound to invite career-ending retribution. The only way to protect cadets is to keep complaints anonymous.
“I’ll call a commander and say, ‘You have an hour to make this go away,’ ” Weinstein said.
Weinstein recently noted on his website a speaker in a commissioning ceremony allegedly urged the graduates to “help return this country to the Christian values it was founded on.” According to the foundation, Weinstein quickly received a pledge from a senior Academy official to review pre-ceremony briefings for speakers.
His influence is not negligible. Defense News last year named Weinstein one of the “100 Most Influential People in U.S. Defense” by Defense News, outranking General David Petraeus.
Weinstein scored a major victory in 2011 when the Air Force suspended a training course for nuclear missile launch officers that used Bible passages and religious imagery in a PowerPoint presentation about the ethics of war.
“I started out at point A where I made a commitment that wherever I saw anti-Semitism I’d stamp it out,” he has written. “Now I’m at point B, when I see unconstitutional religious persecution of any stripe, I don’t care if I live or die, I’m not going to stand by and let it happen.”