For almost a decade, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and its founder, Mikey Weinstein, have stood for the rights of servicemen who face religious intimidation. That hasn’t sat well with some hyper-fundamentalists. Just how deep the hate runs, however, was revealed last week when Weinstein’s wife, Bonnie, released a new book that samples some of the most vicious hate mail the MRFF has received over the years.
The book, “To the Far Right Christian Hater…You Can Be a Good Speller or a Hater, But You Can’t Be Both,” offers a revealing glimpse into the some 500 pieces of hate mail from professing fundamentalist/evangelical Christians that the MRFF gets per year. The threats are very specific and very graphic. Many of them are peppered with vulgar anti-Semitism, as well as ugly misogynistic bile directed at Bonnie. The letters get even uglier and more obscene toward the end of the book, reflecting the MRFF’s growing success. All but a few of them include a return address or email.
Due in part to the letters and numerous attempts to vandalize their house, the Weinsteins have had to spend scads of money on security. In a colossal understatement, Bonnie thinks that the sentiments in those letters go “beyond hate.” Through it all, she manages to retain some semblance of humor. She worked with an artist to help give the book some structure, and adds commentary to the letters where she can. What makes the ugliness in these letters even more incomprehensible is that they come from people who claim that the MRFF’s efforts are oppressing them. As most of us know, the religious right’s stock in trade is playing up the claim that those evil, God-hating libruls are ganging up on good Christian Americans.
So how do they justify this vicious behavior? Based on my own experience, I have an idea. In my freshman year at Carolina, I was tricked into joining a hypercharismatic Christian group. They didn’t seem to find anything wrong with outright lying about their fundamentalist orientation in order to get people like me, who otherwise would have never gotten mixed up with such an outfit, to join. Moreover, they weren’t above dogging people like pesky mosquitoes in order to get them saved–even when they didn’t want to listen. And yet, it seemed like every other week, we were told at meetings that people hated us “because of what we believe.” I found out just how far they were willing to go in my junior year, when several girls in that outfit trumped up a false story that I’d been stalking them all hours of the night trying to get them to leave.
At bottom, the mentality this bunch had is the same as those who are writing those disgusting letters to the Weinsteins. To them, all is fair when getting people saved–and anyone standing in the way of winning people to the Lord should be bullied into silence. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again–this kind of mentality isn’t just oppressive to non-Christians. As I saw first-hand, it’s also oppressive to Christians like me who have the crazy idea that we should learn how to peacefully coexist rather than try to convert everyone around us.
Darrell Lucus, also known as Christian Dem in NC on Daily Kos, is a radical-lefty Jesus-lover who has been blogging for change for a decade. Follow him on Twitter @DarrellLucus or connect with him on Facebook.