Activist Seeks Punishment of Air Force Commander for Stating Jesus ‘Affects His Decisions’ in Interview

kerstenINCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey — An activist that often works to separate God from the military is seeking the punishment of an Air Force commander who responded to a recent interview question that Jesus is his guide and influences his decisions.

The Incirlik Air Base in Turkey published the interview last month on its website, which recently decided to feature new faces to the base as an introduction to others.

On Sept. 15, the focus was on U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Kersten, who serves with the 39th Medical Support Squadron. The unit provides “preventative and clinical health and wellness services for U.S. and coalition forces.”

“Is there a leader from your career that influenced you the most?” he was asked during the interview. “If so, who, and how did they affect the way you lead?”

“There’s no ONE in particular, Kersten responded. “As a Christian, my example is to be like Christ. He is my guide and affects all of my decisions. He teaches to do all things as unto the Lord and I believe this is synonymous with integrity first and excellence in all we do.”

But Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) took issue with Kersten’s response and wrote to his superiors to demand that he be punished.

“[A] number of Turkish military personnel and related Turkish nationals, the majority of whom are practitioners of the Islamic faith, also assigned at Incirlik were, like their fellow American/USAF MRFF allies, extremely offended,” he wrote.

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Weinstein asserted that Kersten had violated military rules with his reply, and said that it caused him to wonder if Kersten would be biased against those of other faiths.

“Lt. Col. Kersten willfully and definitively violated AFI 1-1 with his sectarian Christian proselytizing statement. He has proclaimed to the entire Incirlik Air Base community that ALL of his decisions are based upon his Christian faith,” he wrote. “Moreover, and perhaps even more outrageously, he claims that his exclusivist Christian faith is synonymous with two of the three Air Force official core values.”

“He has essentially stated that Christianity (or his particular interpretation/denomination of same) is the guiding policy of HIS command,” Weinstein said. “He has VERY publicly endorsed his singular view of Christian faith supremacy and it is not unreasonable or irrational to think that this widespread endorsement in an official Air Force internet publication could and/or would lead to preferential treatment of those subordinates who share his views.”

He therefore demanded that Kertsen be both rebuked and punished.

“MRFF demands that you (1) expeditiously and publicly rebuke Lt. Col. Kersten’s official statement—as contrasted with his private Christian faith belief which is not MRFF’s concern—(2) appropriately and visibly punish Lt. Col. Kersten for his unconstitutional and UCMJ-violating behavior; (3) apologize to your airmen and our Turkish allies, and; (4) reaffirm an inclusive 39th Air Base Wing command climate…” Weinstein wrote.

Col. John Walker soon replied, thanking Weinstein for his correspondence, but advising that the Air Force protects service members’ rights to practice their religion.

“The Air Force places the highest value on the rights of its personnel in matters of religion by its members,” he wrote. “Our Airmen are sworn to protect our rights and liberties as Americans, including the right of all Airmen to practice their religious faith of to practice no faith at all.”

Now, MRFF has submitted a second letter, expressing dissatisfaction with Walker’s response, which it characterized as a “signed glamour shot sent by a celebrity to everyone who writes to them.”

“Perhaps you misunderstood our position concerning Lt. Col. Kersten’s statements and our demand for appropriate and visible consequences,” Legal Affairs Coordinator Tobanna Barker wrote on Friday. “While Lt. Col. Kersten certainly has the right to share his religious beliefs, he is not entitled to publicly declare that all of his decisions are based his personal faith, rather than upon his oath of office and allegiance to the U.S. Constitution.”

Barker then threatened to take action if the organization’s demand was not satisfied.

“If you will not take appropriate action, we must take appropriate action on behalf of our clients,” she wrote. “Therefore, we must insist, sir, on a real response from you that states unambiguously whether you will take any action concerning our demand.”

It is not yet known if Walker plans to respond.

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  • bowie1

    Why should Weinstein’s concerns trump that of this soldier? Isn’t he just imposing his own will?

    • Amos Moses

      Mikey is very self righteous …. thats why ………..

    • meamsane

      Not Imposing his own will. But he does seem to want the government to Impose his own will on others. I don’t know, but maybe this busybody would be happier in NORTH KOREA?

    • MarkSebree

      No, he is defending the valid concerns of over 120 service members and veterans who contacted him about this. The concern isn’t over what this CO believes, but rather how he will act and influence his subordinates, and whether he will respect THEIR rights to follow their own beliefs.

  • Judy Zwyghuizen

    Please don’t take the lord our Creator out of believer’s live’s other’s believe as they Please but christian’s cannot???? this is not fair to us christian’s at all! we have right’s to!

    • MarkSebree

      96% of his clients are Christians. Nobody is trying to take away anyone’s right to worship as they wish. What Mikey does is try to defends the rights of the subordinates who are proselytized to by their superiors, or worse. Just because they are not Christian, or they are not “Christian enough”.

  • Trilemma

    Sounds like Mr. Weinstein has his own religious test he would like to apply to those who serve in government jobs. Lt. Col. Kersten was asked a personal question and he gave his personal answer. If Mr. Weinstein doesn’t like what Lt. Col. Kersten said, then Mr. Weinstein needs to take his complaint up with whoever published the interview.

  • meamsane

    If Mikey really cared about the US Constitution, his actions and words would not be in contradiction to it.

    • MarkSebree

      Then Mikey really does care about the US Constitution, since his words and actions defend the constitutional rights of those subordinates who have or worry that they have overly religious and proselytizing superiors.

      • meamsane

        This article is about what LT.COL. Michael Kersten said in answer to an Interviewer’s question that, apparently, Mikey did not like, and that Mikey wants this LT. COL. rebuked and punished for. A completely unreasonable and Irrational un-called for reaction by Mikey. Nobody’s Constitutional rights have been Infringed upon here. But Mikey wants it punished anyway!!

        • MarkSebree

          You seem to forget the fact that he said this in a Muslim country, and that over 120 active duty service members and veterans contacted Mikey about this within the first 24 hours after the article was published. That is a lot of service members to act independently in a short period of time asking for help from an outside agency almost half way around the world. That speaks of them knowing something that we don’t, either about the environment in that area, or about the Lt. Col. who should know better.

          • Chet

            “If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him: if we deny Him, He also will deny us”; If we believe not, yet He abideth faithful: He cannot deny Himself” II Timothy 2:12-13, Holy Bible… A Christian’s personal faith is not confined to a church building nor real estate. And if the indwelling Holy Spirit has no such effect on a supposed believer, something’s seriously awry… There’s also no implication in this piece the officer was attempting to reach any lost people with the good news gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and Him crucified, yet living today…

          • MarkSebree

            Sorry, but it is Air Force and DOD Regulations that control this situation, not your religion. The applicable regulation is Air Force Instruction 1-1, paragraphs 2.11 thru 2.12.

            Paraphrased, they state that an Air Force leader cannot promote or show personal preference towards any religion while on duty and/or representing the USA. The instruction is available online so that you can read it in its published form.

          • Chet

            Sorry, but one does not cast off his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ at anytime and remain true to his God. When one proudly wears the uniform of this nation one is not then become divorced from God. He was not furthering his beliefs, not engaged in “religious” dialogue in comparing his merciful God vs that of others of diverse beliefs. He merely answered a question, according to this piece. Those serving and having so served are neither confused or confounded regarding said AFI’s and DoD regs, nor dissuaded from our faith in Christ relative to the intent of said directives via your particular demeaning perspective… And you may as well know it.

            Respectfully, Christianity is all about one’s relationship with holy God Almighty via His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ of Calvary, and Him, exclusively. “Religion” is something else altogether and is based on one’s attempts to please the object of his particular faith via supposed good works. It’s simply man reaching upwards best he can. In Christianity, God Almighty reaches down and via His great mercy and grace, all made possible exclusively Christ and Him crucified and living today, man can be forgiven of all his sins. And no good works apply as it is entirely God’s doing, grace and mercy.

          • IzTheBiz

            You should find a hobby! sprouting your totalitarian ideas on a Christian web site is probably not a good use of your time! I suggest that you go and help out in a soup kitchen or something, and put your atheism in action! You may convince more people that way! Some of us actually believe in religious freedom. If you don’t, I suggest you join North Korea. I am sure they would love you!

          • MarkSebree

            What “totalitarian ideas” are you talking about? Saying that the Co should have followed the laws and the military regulations as he swore to do is not a “totalitarian idea”. Stating that he should leave his religion at home when he is on duty, just as regulations state, is not a “totalitarian idea”. Stating that the CO cannot overtly or covertly favor or disfavor any religion in his speech or his actions is not a “totalitarian idea”.

            And sorry, but since I spend my day supporting our service members as a veteran and a civilian, I have no interest in going to North Korea.

    • IzTheBiz

      You mean, if Mikey really believed in a totalitarian society, he would bow to the state. It’s been tried, and it failed. it was called USSR, China, North Korea! Feel free to join North Korea anytime. They could always use more delusional leftists

  • Nidalap

    We’ve read the back of the Book. We know how the world will treat Christians at the end.
    Other countries are already at that stage. This is just to show that we’re moving in that direction too…

  • Grace Kim Kwon

    Christianity affected the entire Western civilization thus of the entire world and made the Earthlings civilized. The Westerners would have been just another demon-worshiping child-killing illiterate savages like the rest if they had no Christianity. No Judeo-Christian values = No quest for the truth = No civility. Today’s Westerners are too ignorant on what has formed their sane conscience. Christianity is the only good thing about the Western civilization and thus of the entire planet. Forbiding it means forbiding the truth on earth. Atheists only kill the believers and human babies and pollute the planet. Everyone needs Jesus to obtain salvation and to do what is right.

  • Grace Kim Kwon

    Summary of the USA: America hates Christianity because America became very bad. America did good only when they sought what Christianity teaches. American soldiers should not die to protect something bad. America should become good again by seeking Jesus and refusing to submit to atheists. Sin is slavery. Jesus gives eternal life and freedom. No submission to Western pervs. Submit to God alone and live out the truth and keep freedom.

  • hytre64✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ

    Ask a Muslim if Allah and/or Muhammed affects their decision making…

  • awareoftruth

    Jesus is King!

  • ComeOnPeople!

    So had he said anyone other then Jesus influenced his life everything would be hunky dory? So I can say Muhammad , buddha or the spaghetti monster influences me but may it never be that Jesus do so. What a bunch of one sided baloney going on in our world today.

  • Jen

    Ohh my gosh.. I can’t stand these freedom of religion people…. Get over yourselves!!! I’m telling you.. I know that this is suppose to happen more and more as we get closer to end times and Jesus taking his bride out of here, and Jesus said “they will hate you because they first hated me”.. but man… It makes my heart hurt so bad seeing this happen… It’s so unfair. Ugh… I can’t wait until the tables are turned on them. They reject God now.. but man oh man… Will they be begging for mercy for God to save them in the tribulations!… They have no idea what they are doing.. rejecting God, Creator of everything… And He will say to them as they are on their knees begging.. “away with you, I never knew you”.

    • Romeo N Blackjeans

      So shrill. The maturity level of a 3rd grader. You people can’t think, you just spit your emotions out like brats.

    • TwoRutRoad

      ” I can’t stand these freedom of religion people…” A Freudian slip, perhaps?

      Priceless! 🙂

  • Irv Spielberg

    Here’s an online insight into trouble maker Weinstein I’d like to share:

    Mikey Weinstein, Jesus-Basher

    by Dave MacPherson

    What kind of wine has Mikey Weinstein been drinking?

    As an anti-Christian Jewish supremacist and as the president of the
    Military Religious Freedom Foundation, he’s doing all he can to create
    an anti-Jewish backlash and help bring about the predicted endtime
    Holocaust of Jews that’ll be worse than Hitler’s.

    Neither Falwell, Hagee nor any other preacher initiated this prediction. But Weinstein’s ancient Hebrew prophets did.

    In the 13th and 14th chapters of his Old Testament book, Zechariah
    predicted that after Israel’s rebirth ALL nations will eventually be
    against Israel and that TWO-THIRDS of all Jews will be killed!

    Malachi revealed the reasons: “Judah hath dealt treacherously” and “the Lord will cut off the man that doeth this.”

    Haven’t evangelicals generally been the best friends of Israel and
    persons perceived to be Jewish? Then please explain the hate-filled
    back-stabbing by David Letterman (and Sandra Bernhard, Larry David,
    Kathy Griffin, Bill Maher, Joan Rivers, Sarah Silverman etc.) against
    the followers of Jesus.

    Weinstein wouldn’t dare assert that citizens on government property
    don’t have freedom of speech or press freedom or freedom to assemble or
    to petition the government.

    But God-hater Weinstein maliciously wants to eliminate from
    government property the “free exercise” of religion – especially by
    evangelicals – a freedom found in the same First Amendment.
    Significantly, this freedom was purposely listed FIRST by America’s
    founders! (Not-so-subtle Weinstein has even authored a book which has
    “One Man’s War Against an Evangelical Coup” in its title!)

    And Weinstein wouldn’t try to foist “separation of church and
    state” on strongly-Jewish Israel, but he does try to foist this
    non-Constitution-mentioned phrase on strongly-Christian America.

    In light of Weinstein’s Jewish protectionism and violently
    anti-Christian obsession, Christians in these endtimes should be
    reminded of Jesus’ warning in Mark 13:9 (see also Luke 21:12) that “in
    the synagogues ye shall be beaten.”

    Maybe it’s time for some modern Paul Reveres to saddle up and shout “The Yiddish are Coming!”

    PS – Some, like Weinstein, are so treacherously anti-Christian they
    will even join hands at times with enemies, including Muslims, in order
    to silence evangelicals. It was Weinstein, BTW, who put pressure on the
    Pentagon to dis-invite Franklin Graham from speaking there on the
    National Day of Prayer! Since all of this is being allowed to happen on
    Obama’s watch, you might enjoy Googling “The Background Obama Can’t
    Cover Up.”

    • MarkSebree

      Yeah, Mikey is so anti-christian that about 96% of his 47,000+ clients are Christian. He hates god so much that he prays 3 times a day. He hates freedom of religion so much that he works tirelessly making sure that our service members can worship as they want without being judged or proselytized to by their superiors, or being punished because they are not christian, not “christian enough”, or not the “right type of christian”. And he does this in the face of daily death threats, hateful and vile phone and email messages, and other hazards that would cause most of use to say “this is too much” and give up.

      By the way, the first clause in the First Amendment is the Establishment Clause, which prevents the government OR ITS AGENTS from showing favoritism towards any religious beliefs, or disparaging any religious beliefs. While on duty, in uniform, or in any other way representing the military, service members are bound by the Establishment Clause. Off duty and out of uniform, the Freedom of Expression clause is the superior one.

      To start with, Franklin Graham is a well known evangelical pundit. It is obvious from his background that he would engage in proselytizing that would be harmful to military cohesion and order by encouraging disregard for certain regulations, as well as discrimination against several groups of service members, some of whom might be in the audience. And given that the Pentagon was inviting him, which contains the highest ranking officers of all the Armed Forces, means that they would be perceived as endorsing his message and his beliefs over others. THAT is why he was disinvited. And that is besides the fact that the Pentagon doing this on the so-called “National Day of Prayer” also sends a message that they endorse religion over non-religion, which is also a violation of the Establishment Clause.

      This author is either ignorant or a blatant liar. Him being both would not surprise me.

      • BobL

        All military members have sworn an oath to protect and defend the Constitution.The establishment clause is the very first line in the Bill of Rights. If you can find any Christian bias in there, you’re a fool.

        I’ll leave you two quotes. One is from John Wayne who, in “True Grit” said, “You’ve done nothing when you’ve bested a fool”. He was correct. I have no time for fools. The second is from Mister “T”, who on many occasions said, “I pity the fool…”. So do I but not much.

        • MarkSebree

          The “Christian bias” is found in whom the generals invited, and what his known positions are and what his speeches tend to be like. That same Establishment Clause also prevents apparent bias, which is why was shown. There are also likely DOD and military regulations which could cause problems.

          If you have “no time for fools”, perhaps you should stop being one yourself. Or perhaps you should make time for yourself and educate yourself so that you stop showing yourself to be a fool.

          • BobL

            The establishment clause does not, nor was it ever intended to, build a wall of separation between church and state. It simply prohibits the government from declaring any particular faith to be the official state religion. It also recognizes the right of the people, with certain restrictions (human sacrifices, for example) to worship any entity they choose or none at all if they so choose.

            I don’t see the officer who invited Rev. Graham as promoting Christianity. The Christian faith has much to offer to all people whether or not they Christian, Jew, agnostic, or complete atheist. If he makes a habit of inviting only Christian speakers while excluding all others, that would be a problem. I do not know if this is what he has been doing so I can’t comment.

            Are there still post chapels on our military bases or has creeping political correctness driven them out? In my Army days, 50-odd years ago, I wasn’t a regular attendee at services (Anglican) while stationed in the U.S. but I can tell you I sure was when I was in Vietnam. The priest at our chapel, a man from Virginia who I really liked, end up in my parish out in Washington State some twenty years later and we became good friends.

            I’m not proselytizing, just saying that sometimes we get a little too hung up on regulations and forget the uncommon common sense our founders showed in their ability to foresee future problems and give us some direction as to which was to go. BTW, I am a long-time student of the Constitution, the Federalist Papers, and the writings of many of our founders as well. I don’t consider myself a fool, but neither do I expect that you are one.

            Have a good day. -Bob L.

  • Chet

    Tell Mikey to go pack stand. Stand strong guys as the Lord’s eyes run to and fro upon the Earth beholding the evil and the good. No more dropping and rolling over in the face of liberal humanistic godless atheism.

  • Chet

    Aw, tell Mikey to go pack sand. It’s best to Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus Ye Soldiers of the Cross. No more buckling at the knees, dropping and rolling over in the face of humanistic liberal anti God anti Christ atheistic adversity. Stand strong guys…

  • Okeydoker

    Weinstein is a well known dirtbag.

    • BobL

      That much is obvious. What I’d like to know is, what is Mikey’s standing in this matter? Is he a member of the armed forces or just a poor ignored buttinski who longs to be in the spotlight? Either way, this miserable little wretch needs to seek professional help.

      • Okeydoker

        My recollection is that he is a former Air Force Officer.

      • MarkSebree

        He is the head of a civil rights organization which was contacted by members of the US armed forces about a concern regarding the bias and apparent non-neutrality of a commanding officer with respect to religion. He is acting as the lawyer for those who contacted him.

  • HalYourPal

    If there is a hell….this guy is going to find it. But then again…most democrats who are godless will have the same fate.

    • MarkSebree

      Mikey Weinstein is a registered Republican, and prays multiple times a day. Additionally, most Democrats are Christian, just probably different denominations than you. Additionally, those who follow different religions are not “godless” either, they just believe in different god(s).

      Additionally, given the fact that Mikey has devoted his life to helping people in need against those who are more powerful than his clients, and that he does despite daily death threats and threats of violence against him and his family suggests that he is more likely to be held as a martyr rather than going to your mythical “hell”.

      • IzTheBiz

        ‘Most democrats are Christian’
        dismembering a baby in the womb up to 9 months, sometimes after birth, harvesting organs etc is undeniably evil in the extreme. And anyone who purports to call themselves a Christian and can back a party that wants to make it even easier to dismember innocent human beings who are unable to protect themselves is lost and deluded, and most certainly is NOT a follower of Jesus Christ!
        Your opinion about who is a Christian and who is not, based on your ideas is unimportant. An unregenerate sinner looks out from a prison cell and is in no place to judge the redeemed!

        • MarkSebree

          “dismembering a baby in the womb up to 9 months, sometimes after birth, harvesting organs etc is undeniably evil in the extreme. ”

          Not to mention right wing propaganda. Abortions do not take place that late, and abortions cannot by definition happen after birth. The “harvesting of organs” was made legal by a Republican bill and law, and is only done with the woman’s permission, at a few women’s clinics, and when the woman was getting an abortion anyway.

          Only about 10% of abortions take place after about 12 weeks, and only about 1.5% after 16 weeks. At about 5 1/2 months, there are a series of tests that are commonly done woman to make sure that her fetus is healthy. At this point, almost all women want her pregnancy to continue, and is looking forward to the birth of her child. However, the tests, which include ultrasound and genetic tests, can show that somethings has gone very wrong with the pregnancy. Organs could be missing or malformed. There may be serious genetic defects. There could be something wrong with the woman. That is when the woman must make a heart-rending decision about whether to continue the pregnancy, knowing that she will deliver a stillborn or that her infant will die within minutes or days in agony, or end the pregnancy immediately before the nerves finish developing, and spare the fetus the pain it will have to endure. That is ultimately her decision. You have no say in it, and your religion has no business trying to impose itself into the decision making process.

          “And anyone who purports to call themselves a Christian and can back a party that wants to make it even easier to dismember innocent human beings who are unable to protect themselves is lost and deluded, and most certainly is NOT a follower of Jesus Christ!”

          True Scotsman fallacy. You are claiming that you get to decide who is and who isn’t a “Christian”. Basically, it is only people that believe exactly as you do.

          Additionally, a fetus is not actually a human being as defined by the law as yet. Thus, no human beings are actually harmed in an abortion.

          “Your opinion about who is a Christian and who is not, based on your ideas is unimportant. ”

          And a hypocrite. I am not trying to decide who is an who isn’t a Christian. I simply look at publicly available information, like relative populations of religions in the USA. Overall, Republicans and Democrats are pretty closely evenly split in numbers, based on the Presidential elections the last few cycles. The popular vote is not decided by more than a handful of percentage points, and it tends to shift back and forth. The percentage of Christians in the USA is roughly 75% – 80%. That means that most Democrats are Christians by sheer numbers.

          “An unregenerate sinner looks out from a prison cell and is in no place to judge the redeemed!”

          Well, that does not apply to me at all. According to my beliefs, which are none of your business anyway, i am not an “unregenerate sinner”. I am certainly not locked in the prison cell of blind religious faith that you are in. And I have as much right to judge you and you have to judge me. I am not bound by your beliefs, your mythology, or your opinions. Nor is anyone else, especially not any woman (other than you if you are a woman).

          Perhaps one day, you will do some of your own research, and embrace reality. But I doubt it.