Friday Evening, January 6, 2023
MRFF solemnly acknowledges the two year anniversary of the
despicable January 6, 2021, White Christian Nationalist
insurrectionist attack on the United States Capitol.

"The practice of having uniform patches of an obvious religious nature, violates the rather direct prohibitions of AFI 1-1, § 2.12.

"They also violate AFI 36-2903, Dress and Personal
Appearance of United States Air Force and United States Space Force Personnel (2022), and the Kirtland AFB, Supplement to AFI 36-2903, Dress and Personal Appearance of Air Force Personnel. (2020). Both note that 'Compliance' is 'Mandatory,' i.e.,
violations breach Article 92, UCMJ ..."

— MRFF legal counsel Donald G. Rehkopf
Kirkland Air Force Base sign

After receiving a number of complaints about gate guards at
Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico violating Air Force uniform regulations as well as very visibly promoting their religious beliefs by wearing a "IN GOD WE TRUST" tabs on their uniforms,
MRFF sent the airmens' command a demand that
"these 'In God We Trust' patches ... be immediately removed from the duty uniforms of all members of the 377 Air Base Wing’s Security Forces Group and Squadron."

When questioned by one retired officer as to why he was wearing
the unauthorized "IN GOD WE TRUST" tab, one gate guard's
motive-confirming response was: "I am a Christian sooo."

Having received no response from the offending gate guards' commanding officer after being given ample time to address the issue, MRFF has now gotten its legal counsel involved.
Demand letter sent by MRFF legal counsel
Donald G. Rehkopf to Colonel Jason F. Vattioni, Commander, 377 Air Base Wing at Kirtland AFB

Friday, January 6, 2023
Prior demand sent by MRFF Founder and President
Mikey Weinstein to Colonel Jason F. Vattioni, Commander, 377 Air Base Wing at Kirtland AFB

Sunday, December 18, 2022

From: Michael L Weinstein <[email protected]>
Subject: URGENT! U.S. Constitutional Civil Rights Violations Under Your Command
Date: December 18, 2022 at 2:44:46 PM MST
Cc: Amy Rivera, Michael Lutton, Charles Q. Brown, Frank Kendall, Don Rehkopf

Colonel Jason F. Vattioni
377 Air Base Wing
Air Force Global Strike Command
Kirtland AFB
Albuquerque, New Mexico

RE: U.S. Constitutional Civil Rights Violations Under Your Command

Colonel Vattioni,

There exists a noxious, EXTREMELY highly visible, and wholly unconstitutional “Christian proselytizing” Security Forces activity occurring within your command at the 377 Air Base Wing at Kirtland AFB. 

My name is Mikey Weinstein and I am the Founder and President of a large civil rights advocacy organization called the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF). MRFF presently represents over 81,000 military personnel and veterans in support of the Constitutionally-mandated separation of church and state in all of DoD, the 17 national intelligence agencies, and DHS. Approximately 95% of MRFF’s clientele are practicing Christians themselves.

In the illicit matter at hand, MRFF is currently representing a number of active duty U.S. Air Force officer and enlisted personnel under your direct command, as well as retired and honorably-discharged veterans most of whom who routinely use your facilities at Kirtland Air Force Base.

Several of our numerous MRFF clients in this sordid matter have written e-mails to us, which you will see below my e-mail herein to you.

I won’t belabor the point, as their e-mails, below, do a fine job of explaining the wretched, unconstitutionality of what your Security Forces (SF) gate guards are currently engaged in.

Simply put, Col. Vattioni, your armed SF gate guards, under your direct command, may NOT have “In God We Trust” velcroed to their duty uniforms in plain public view! Further, when confronted and challenged by active duty and retired military officers asking why they have that sectarian patch displayed prominently on their uniforms, your gate guards are further exacerbating the matter by telling these inquiring officers that the reason is that they ”...are Christians….” and THAT is why the patch is there!!!

Colonel, besides the OBVIOUS 1st Amendment violation of the No Establishment Clause, your SF gate guards are also DIRECTLY violating Air Force Instruction (AFI) 1-1, Section 2.12, which states:

AFI 1-1, Section 2.12 (emphasis added):

2.12. Balance of Free Exercise of Religion and Establishment Clause. Leaders at all levels must balance constitutional protections for their own free exercise of religion, including individual expressions of religious beliefs, and the constitutional prohibition against governmental establishment of religion. They must ensure their words and actions cannot reasonably be construed to be officially endorsing or disapproving of, or extending preferential treatment for any faith, belief, or absence of belief. 

I want to make it clear, as well, that AFI 1-1, Section 2.12 is NOT a mere “Advisory” USAF regulation. Quite on the contrary, sir, it is totally DIRECTIVE, meaning that those who violate it may be prosecuted and punished as a felony under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ); for example, Article 92, “Dereliction of Duty,” as AFI 1-1 itself point out at the very beginning of the text of that vital regulation.

Colonel, can you even IMAGINE the universal, unbridled HELL that would have broken loose if those patches on their Air Force Security Forces duty uniforms had instead stated “In Allah We Trust,” “In Satan We Trust,” or “In No God We Trust”?!

Are you getting this, Colonel Varttioni?

I spoke this morning to a senior enlisted member of your SF Squadron, a “Flight Chief" who seemed to think that all of this disgrace was actually fine because “In God We Trust” was reaffirmed by a U.S. Congressional Resolution in 2011 as America’s motto.

Uh huh. Really?!

So let’s try this, eh? Let’s substitute another U.S. Congressional Resolution, as swiftly uncovered by MRFF’s Research Dept. this AM:

If a House resolution reaffirming "In God We Trust" as the official motto of the United States carries weight, then another House resolution stating "The House of Representatives recognizes the Islamic faith as one of the great religions of the world" carries the same weight. Therefore, shouldn’t Muslim airmen be able to wear the quote "The House of Representatives recognizes the Islamic faith as one of the great religions of the world" on their uniforms and say they put it there because they "are a Muslim”?! (H.Res.635, 110th Congress).

Here’s the bottom line, Colonel Vattioni:

Your 377 Air Base Wing SF gate guards are NOT just actively engaged in this unconstitutional and obviously sectarian Christian proselytizing activity by themselves. Indeed, their SF Squadron and/or Group chains of command must also be fully cognizant of and supporting this reprehensible behavior which inter alia directly violates AFI 1-1, Section 2.12, as well as the oaths they all swore to support and defend the United States Constitution.

MRFF hereby demands that you: 

(1) order these “In God We Trust” patches to be immediately removed from the duty uniforms of all members of the 377 Air Base Wing’s Security Forces Group and Squadron, under your command; and that,

(2) all Air Force personnel who either directly or even indirectly allowed this Constitutionally-repugnant activity to occur be aggressively investigated and, if found culpable, strongly and visibly disciplined and punished for their deliberate transgressions of AFI 1-1, Section 2.11 as well as all other relevant Air Force Directives, Instructions, Regulations, and UCMJ provisions.

Lastly, Colonel Vattioni, please recall well the Core Values of the U.S. Air Force; “Integrity First, Service Before Self, Excellence in all We Do.”

Your Air Force SF armed gate guards and their cognizant Air Force senior chain of command enablers are ABSOLUTELY violating and making a pathetic mockery of every salient aspect of those vaunted Core Values with their sectarian Christian proselytizing actions as per their display of that “In God We Trust” patch with the “I’m a Christian” verbal kicker!!

Please see the 3 e-mails below. I will stand by for your earliest response, Colonel Vattioni. 

I am also copying above MRFF’s lead military law litigator, Mr. Donald Rehkopf.


Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein, Esq.
Founder and President
Military Religious Freedom Foundation

Emails attached to MRFF's
December 18, 2022 demand letter

From: xxxxxxxx
Subject: Kirtland Air Force Base in violation of fundamental Air Force policy
Date: December 18, 2022 at 10:01:46 AM MST
To: [email protected], Mikey Weinstein <[email protected]>

As an Active Duty United States Air Force Field Grade Officer assigned at Kirtland Air Force Base I was stunned and outraged to witness a Security Forces Airman wearing a patch stating “In God We Trust” on the front of his UNITED STATES AIR FORCE uniform while performing official duties. I witnessed this personally at the Kirtland Air Force Base Eubank gate last Tuesday, 13 December 2022, at approx. 1130 AM.

As an Active Duty Officer for nearly twenty years I’ve never seen such a blatant disregard for our constitution from a junior enlisted airman in uniform and armed while performing official duties. The visibility our Security Forces service members have at the Kirtland Air Force Base Eubank gate is unparalleled with estimates of up to 10K vehicles per day passing through that gate. The patches on the Operational Camouflage Pattern uniform (or any US armed services uniform for that matter) are not billboards for advertising one’s religious affiliation! Yet, the wear of this patch which is a punishable offense per The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) is not the simple choice of one junior airman. No, it would be IMPOSSIBLE for a security forces airman to begin their duty without attending the mandatory start of shift inspection and briefing called “guard mount” with illegal accouterments on their uniform without their chain of command’s knowledge. 

I’ve heard of other service members and retirees at Kirtland Air Force Base expressing their outrage witnessing similar violations at Kirtland Air Force Base of AIR FORCE INSTRUCTION 1-1, Section 2.12 “Leaders at all levels must balance constitutional protections for their own free exercise of religion, including individual expressions of religious beliefs, and the constitutional prohibition against governmental establishment of religion. They must ensure their words and actions cannot reasonably be construed to be officially endorsing or disapproving of, or extending preferential treatment for any faith, belief, or absence of belief.”

We can’t fight this alone. But, I know Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) has the will, ability, reputation, and resources to get swift justice and correct the seemingly perpetual drift towards Christian Nationalism that some of our nation’s military leaders are complicit in, supporting of, or actively pursuing. I’ve seen what can happen without MRFF’s advocacy, and what has been achieved with MRFF on the front lines.

On behalf of our men and women in uniform who sacrifice so much to protect our democracy, our constitution, and our liberties I ask for your intervention.

With gratitude,

(MRFF Client name and rank withheld)

From: Retired USAF General’s E-mail Address Withheld
Subject:  Kirtland AFB Security Forces Religious Uniform Patch Matter
Date: December 18, 2022 at 1:56:18 PM MST
To: Mikey Weinstein <[email protected]>

Dear Mikey and the MRFF,

I served on active duty in the Air Force for over 30 years and retired as a flag officer. I am disappointed to hear that an SF gate guard was allowed to take his post at the Eubank Gate on Kirtland AFB following guard mount with a patch on his uniform that states, “In God we trust.”   While I do not believe the saying is without merit, I have significant concerns about allowing the patch to be worn on his uniform. 

AFI 1-1 is the definitive guidance here. Why was it not followed? Expressions of religious affiliations have no place on an Air Force uniform. Would you allow “Allah Akbar” on a patch sewed into an Air Force uniform and worn by a gate guard? I hope not. AFI 1-1 forbids this, just as it also forbids “In God we trust.” While “In God we trust” appears on coins, currency, and in court rooms, an Air Force uniform is none of these things.  

We are an inclusive service defending an inclusive society. Our Airmen, like our citizenry, are diverse in religious beliefs and some profess no belief in deities. But all deserve respect.   If a uniform is meant to be truly “uniform” and represent all our service to the Nation, please keep religious billboards off them and respect every Airman’s service. 

From: MRFF Client’s E-mail Address withheld
Subject: SF at the KAFB Gate with personal/military on uniform
Date: December 17, 2022 at 5:10:10 PM MST

to mikey

Hello Mikey and team! Thanks so much for being available for me to air my concern about a blatant violation of UCMJ.  I have been beside myself with whom to contact over this matter until I remembered your team!  Again...thanks so much for the important work you do.  

Today, 17 Dec 2022 at approximately 1230 I approached Kirtland AFB's Gibson gate ID check point with my boyfriend driving. I am the military ID card holder and I was in the passenger seat and handed my ID to the gate guard through the driver side window. The SF personnel at the checkpoint was a young man in his 20s, caucasion, dark hair, stocky build, approximately 5;8 - 6' tall I think, but was a quick interaction, so could be wrong.  

I immediately noticed he was wearing an appropriate uniform but with one exception; he had a Velco Tab in an area above his rank that said in bold letters: 'IN GOD WE TRUST" on his flak vest. As he handed back my ID and saluted me as appropriate protocol, I asked him why he was wearing that personalized saying on his military uniform. He responded...'oh this'...and pointed at his rank which was 2 rockers, and I said No, the other one....He said..'oh I got it off my hat'.....and then added...'and I am a Christian sooo'.......I then said...' but you are out of uniform." He ignored what I said, and said 'have a nice day'. My boyfriend then pulled through the gate thus ending the conversation.  

I could not believe what I saw! I am a retired Army officer who began my career as an enlisted soldier attending basic training at Ft Dix in 1986. It was drilled into all of us that we were not to have anything on our uniforms that was outside of THE UNIFORM! Certainly nothing that revealed our religion or personal preferences would have been allowed while in uniform. I am appalled that this young Airman has been allowed to stray so far away from that doctrine that is so important to good order and discipline for all those who serve the United States military. I am wondering if his command has condoned this behaviour or is oblivious to it...either way, there needs to be some corrective training done ASAP if not judicial action.  
I have served overseas and the one thing that sets our country apart is the separation of church and state. Other countries that have fallen into decay have been largely driven by allowing religion to direct policy and actions that do not benefit ALL the people, only a select few.  The day we start allowing religion to invade our military's good order and discipline is the day our military loses its prowess on the world stage....Not on my watch!

Thanks again for being there to stand up for the UCMJ and these violations of the separation of church and state.  

(MRFF Client name and retired status withheld)

I wish to remain anonymous but please feel free to contact me with further questions or concerns.  


Prior similar gate guard case at another Air Force Base
MRFF's Inbox

"MRFF Demands Air Force Base Gate Guards Immediately Cease Wearing 'In God We Trust' Tab on Uniform"

From: (MRFF Client Name & Email Address withheld)
Subject: MRFF Demands Air Force Base Gate Guards Immediately Cease Wearing “In God We Trust” Tab on Uniform
Date: December 19, 2022 at 5:27:44 PM MST
To: Michael L Weinstein <[email protected]>

Thanks so much Mikey and team for such swift action. 

I have been concerned that as a society we are not very good at calling out balls and strikes, therefore allowing violations of protocols and civility to be normalized. It seems that more and more in this political environment; that we have to stand up fast and loud when we see something that we know is not right. In the case of religion being allowed to invade our military, I recall an observation I made while being deployed to the Middle East. I am a psychiatric nurse and had the privilege of working in the detainment facility. I came to understand that the detainees there were much like us, but the one difference was that their allegiance was for their tribe, not for their country. They explained to me that their government did not have any compunction or responsibility for the care of the regular citizen and therefore the onus fell to their tribe of affiliation. It then followed that getting the society to act as a unit was like herding cats as there was no unity as a citizenry. They did not think of themselves as citizens of their country, they identified with their tribe. Their tribes were based in their religion, and therefore their religious affiliation was a part of their identity that separated them from another tribe.

This observation about the government in this decaying country made me think about my own country.  I asked myself, what has made America such a strong democracy?  Pondering on this question led me to the following conclusion: it was the profound revelation of our Founding Fathers to ensure division between Church and State. Without having a legal boundary, so many countries in history have risen to then fall when division has been sown in the ranks of those elected or appointed by something as simple as a personal choice known as ‘religion’. Religious choice should only affect the person holding that belief, but down through the ages, example after example has demonstrated it is this ONE tenet of society that has caused the most conflict and therefore lead to the fall of nations and civilizations.  

At that time, I thought to myself, at least my country, the United States of America, is impervious to strife because our Constitution; in its brilliance; foresaw the problems that could befall a nation. Our forefathers, in writing this founding document; ensured the success of our nation with guidelines and rules that seemed to have an answer to all the potential pitfalls of the flaws of man.

 In the last few years, my American smugness has come home to roost as they say; as America is being insidiously besieged by division, much of which has its seeds in ‘religion’.  I see how important it is to stand up and educate about the importance of the Separation of Church and State due to my observations of how a country can so easily fall into decay if religion is allowed to dictate the direction and laws. Our military represents our Constitution, and therefore any religious affiliation of our military has no place in a representative democracy.  The extremism of ISIS seemed outlandish when we first heard their brutality that was sanctioned by their dogma, but I now realize that it is not far from what we could see in our country if religion is allowed to be weaponized in the same manner.  

Thank you so MRFF for standing in the breech!

(MRFF Client Name & Rank withheld) 

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