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Mikey Weinstein: a man on a mission

by Danielle Berrin

July 12, 2007 | 1:25 pm

Mikey Weinstein is no Christian, but his knowledge of Christianity is astounding. The other night, he entertained an L.A. audience by depicting an imaginary dialogue between himself (The Jew) and Jesus Christ (The Evangelical Christian), as they meet on the corner of Wilshire Boulevard. Jesus tells Weinstein to drop to his knees and accept him as his personal savior.

“But Jesus, can’t we just be friends?”

Thus beginning a frightening and comic recitation of bible verses that categorically refute anything Weinstein could say in defense of his blasphemy as a non-believer. It ends with someone going to hell—and it isn’t Jesus.

Having abandoned his career as a businessman and lawyer, Weinstein is in the throes of launching his own crusade. In October 2005, he filed a lawsuit against the United States Air Force, claiming senior military officials and cadets were subjecting non-Christians to proselytizing and evangelizing, pressuring them to convert.

Since his initial foray in Federal Court, Weinstein has launched a full-scale legal battle against the Air Force, which now includes the entire U.S. military. He also began a nation-wide campaign of speaking engagements, which brought him to Westwood’s Hammer Museum (Tues., July 10) for a conversation with Ian Masters, a BBC trained broadcast journalist, which will air on C-SPAN in the coming weeks. Against the backdrop of the Billy Wilder Theatre’s hot pink stage curtain, Weinstein discussed his mission to combat religious intolerance in the military and promoted his new book, “With God On Our Side: One Man’s War Against an Evangelical Coup in America’s Military.”

With his sleek English accent, Masters asked the questions and politely deferred to a garrulous Weinstein, whose outrageous anecdotes of intra-military Christian proselytizing escalated to the realm of farce.

In his fast-talking, semantic-ridden polemic, Weinstein referred to his opponents as “Dominionist, fascistic, lick spittle supplicants of the Christian right,”—strong words for someone railing against extremism. But Weinstein knows what he’s up against and did not shy from using the word “anarchy” or telling the audience, “we have to be militant.”

His animated verbiage rallied the audience as he prepared them for incendiary remarks by instructing, “Ladies and gentlemen, shoulder harnesses on please,” and then recounted examples of religious intolerance, racial derision and anti-Semitism in the military. His quips elicited nervous laughter from an exasperated audience.

Weinstein fears that separation between church and state has become so diminished; fundamentalist Christians will parlay their military and political clout into an apocalyptic religious war intended to catalyze the return of Jesus. He affectionately refers to this millennial philosophy as an “imperious, fictitious contagion,” yet his fervent delivery imbues the portentous fiction with credibility.

Even stranger narratives surfaced during the Q&A, when a woman and former Air Force cadet revealed that during her stint at the academy, she was accused of witchcraft.

The wildly bizarre accounts will come to a head three weeks from now, when Weinstein faces the U.S. military in Federal Court. Despite being plagued by death threats and murderous telephone chants, Weinstein is heading into a hardcore limelight.

Ladies and gentlemen, strap on your shoulder harnesses because Weinstein wants you to rally to the cause. But do not fear—he promises that if you donate to his Military Religious Freedom Foundation, he’ll handle the death threats on your behalf.

(Photo: Washington Post)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Written by Danielle Berrin and Dikla Kadosh

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