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Handle With Care: Compilation of hate mail sent to religious civil rights group makes disturbing reading

Bonnie Weinstein signs copies of “When Christians Break Bad” at 10 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 20, at Congregation Albert, 3800 Louisiana NE. At the same event, Mikey Weinstein will give a talk about the work of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. Admission is $14 general public and $12 for members of Congregation Albert’s Sisterhood and Brotherhood. Tickets at the door. Bonnie Weinstein will also discuss and sign copies of her new book at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 20, at Bookworks, 4022 Rio Grande NW.

 

Bonnie Weinstein cautions that one should read her new book a few pages at a time.

Weinstein’s warning is based on the notion that there’s only so much hate mail readers can manage.

“It only takes a few pages before you get numb, so take it in small doses,” she said. “It’s a little overwhelming, the hateful spewing of garbage.”

The book is titled “When Christians Break Bad ——Letters From the Inane, Insane and Profane.” It’s a collection of the innumerable emails attacking the work of the Albuquerque-based Military Religious Freedom Foundation over the past five years.

Some of the emails are broadly anti-Semitic, some are directed at Weinstein or her husband, Mikey Weinstein, both Jewish, and some at the foundation.

The names of the email senders and their addresses, whether real or fake, are left blank in the book.

“We protect everyone,” she said.

The Weinsteins co-founded the Military Religious Freedom Foundation in 2005. It is a self-described civil rights organization that stands against the infringement on the First Amendment right of religious freedom. The amendment’s establishment clause prohibits government actions to unduly favor one religion over another.

In the book’s introduction, Bonnie Weinstein says some of the Founding Fathers endorsed the concept of the separation of Church and State, which, she writes, became part of establishment clause jurisprudence.

The charitable foundation has helped an estimated 65,000 people, representing soldiers, sailors, Marines, cadets and veterans. Its representation includes cases in which officers—— especially chaplains and commanders ——impose their Christian faith, often through proselytizing. Most of the cases concern alleged violations of military rules and regulations.

“There’s a lot of coercion to be the right kind of Christian, to go to this or that prayer breakfast or luncheon,” Mikey Weinstein said. “We’re not taking away people’s religions. We’re simply leveling the playing field, especially in the military.”

Such coercion goes against military policy, he said.

Most of the foundation’s advocacy involves confronting commanders. In some cases, the foundation uses the media to embarrass the commander or in other cases employs the threat of legal action, Weinstein said.

“We’re the irritant. We’re holding their feet to the fire to uphold military regulations,” Weinstein said. “We are militant and strident; therefore, we have enemies out there.”

In the book’s introduction, Bonnie Weinstein writes that the U.S. Constitution was written with the explicit intent that the nation be based “on secular rule, free from religious tyranny.” As a result, she said, the country is not a “Christian nation.”

“When Christians Break Bad” is her second published volume containing hate mail directed at the foundation. However, it is her first book that has email replies from foundation team members and her own commentaries on the exchanges.

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