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Weinstein to sue over religious symbol at Fort Carson

By: LANCE BENZEL
June 15, 2010
0

A religious freedom advocate with ties to Colorado Springs said Tuesday the Army has declined his request to remove a cross and religious motto from the emblem of Fort Carson’s Evans Army Community Hospital.

Mikey Weinstein, the founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said the religious theme violates the Constitution and that his foundation will sue to have the emblem changed.

“Our message to the Army is: See you in court,” he said.

The foundation lodged its complaint in late April, saying it represented Fort Carson soldiers who wished to remain anonymous.

Weinstein said the spiked cross and motto — a Latin phrase translating to “For God and Humanity” — send the damaging message that the Army is engaged in a holy war against Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Western armies used spiked crosses to mark new territories in the Middle Ages, summoning reminders of the Crusades, Weinstein said.

Weinstein, of Albuquerque, N.M., is a 1977 Air Force Academy graduate who founded the Military Religious Freedom Foundation after a widely publicized scandal in 2005 in which cadets claimed the academy fostered a hostile environment for anyone who wasn’t Christian.

He said he traveled to Fort Carson on Friday for a meeting with post commander Maj. Gen. David Perkins. Weinstein said Perkins told him the hospital emblem was a “Pentagon matter” and that the Army had little interest in altering the emblem with two wars in progress.

Lt. Col. Steve Wollman, a Fort Carson spokesman, confirmed the meeting took place but said Perkins merely passed on the message that decisions about the hospital emblem, in use since 1969, were not his to make.

“We follow policies, and we follow directives,” he said. “We don’t make them here.”

Wollman referred questions about the emblem to the Army Institute of Heraldry, which could not be reached Tuesday for information.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation drew national attention in January with its successful push to have the Marines modify rifle scopes that were inscribed with biblical citations.

More recently, the foundation was involved in public a clash over how the Air Force Academy handled its investigation into a cross left at a pagan worship site on campus.

The academy defended its handling of the incident and closed the investigation after the person or persons responsible couldn’t be found.

Weinstein said he expects the foundation’s attorneys to pursue a legal battle over the Army emblem in federal court by the end of the summer.

Call the writer at 636-0366.

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