Air Force Times: Prayer Should be Private

The Air Force Times has editorialized that

Before the Air Force can move past its reputation for religious intolerance, it must do one more thing: Eliminate prayers from official events.

Beginning an editorial with such a statement certainly reveals the tone.  After all, while the Air Force has been accused of intolerance by vocal critics, no institutional intolerance has ever been substantiated, and there is no public indication that intolerance is a valid “reputation” of the Air Force.

The editorial also treats a fairly complex issue rather whimsically.  The simple and unexplained demand that the Air Force “eliminate prayers from official events,” after all, would have prevented a Chaplain from praying at the nationally-televised memorial service at Fort Hood attended by the President.  Is that really what the editors propose?

The US military goes out of its way to protect the religious freedom of its servicemembers.  It restricts religious expression, which includes prayer, only when military necessity dictates that it must. It has bent over backwards to provide Wiccans with the requirements for their observances in Iraq, Christians theirs in Afghanistan, atheist theirs in Colorado, and others in places around the world.

The Air Force Times may hear the loudest voice in the room cry “intolerance!”  But the loudest voice in the room is little more than bluster, while the steady voices of religious freedom calmly demonstrate the tolerance and Constitutional protections provided to American servicemembers by the US military every day, in every corner of the world–regardless of their faith.

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