Lt. Aristotle Rivera serving as a Navy chaplain for the Second Marine Division at Camp Lejuene in North Carolina posted an Easter sermon titled “What did the people talk about at the first Easter?” on a US Military website. The article, published on March 30, dealt with the question of what the first Christians spoke about:
“Did they talk about how loving God is, or how God loves us unconditionally? Did they mention how God helps us through difficult times? Did the apostles go around inspiring others to remember Jesus and to follow his teachings? Did they gather in synagogues to discuss the ethical implications of loving your enemies and praying for those who persecute you?,” and,
Did Peter “give instruction about memorizing scripture verses, going to church on Sundays, being nice to people, stop saying bad words and start being better people?”
Rivera answers by claiming they discussed the Jews’ rejection of Jesus. more specifically, that Peter addressed the “men of Israel”, saying “you crucified and killed” Jesus.
“A way to summarize the early Easter message was this: ‘Jesus lived. You killed him. God raised him. We saw him. Say Sorry.’”
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a group that advocates for troops and veterans who report discrimination in the military, immediately sent a letter to the Washington Headquarters Services which ran the website. Led by MRFF founder and president Mikey Weinstein32 high-ranking military members and DoD civilian employees in the greater Washington, D.C. area, 24 of whom are Jewish, signed on the letter:
As America still reels on a daily basis from the horrific shock of extremist hate from every corner of our Land, now comes this stunningly antisemitic article printed, not even a month ago, in apparent celebration of Easter by the official Department of Defense (DoD), Washington Headquarters Service.
This putrid filth, spewing and egging on the basic foundations of the ancient hated of the Jewish people as “Christ Killers,” is simply one of the most antisemitic, Old School Jew-baiting pieces of defamatory trash we have seen here at MRFF in a very long time.
Yet once again, the Mother Ship of fundamentalist Christianity rears its repugnant head, this time in an official DoD Headquarters internet publication written by a United States Navy officer/chaplain for ALL the world to see.
And what is its main filthy theme or thesis?
It is, quite literally, to SOLELY blame the Jewish people (”Men of Israel”) for the gruesome execution of Jesus Christ on the cross.
Ms. Meiners, this wretched screed is absolutely base, evil, vile, hateful bigotry and rapacious racism being vomited out of the mouth of this U.S. military officer/chaplain/author and fully endorsed by your official high profile DoD news and information outlet, the DoD’s Washington Headquarters Service.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation demands that U.S. Navy Chaplain (Lt.) Rivera, who is also a West Point graduate, and anyone else who is either directly or indirectly responsible for this mind-blowing, dishonorable, and malevolent publishing of abject prejudice, be aggressively investigated and visibly punished with immediate, due swiftness by the Department of Defense.
Additionally, MRFF further demands an immediate and heartfelt apology in writing from the DoD’s Washington Headquarters Service, which you currently direct and oversee.
The offending article was removed but the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America (JWV) demanded disciplinary action against Lt. Rivera.
“Lt. Rivera included what JWV believes was an anti-Semitic message in an Easter article he wrote for the Defense Department’s Washington Headquarters Service,” the organization wrote to the Defense Department’s Washington Headquarters Service. “In addition to an apology and admission of wrongdoing by Lt. Rivera, we also ask the Department of Defense to issue a statement acknowledging the anti-Semitic nature of the article.”