Military Religion Quiz: Can a Military Officer Advertise a Bible Study?

The following email recently took a turn around the “religious complaint” circuit:

From: [ ] LtCol USAF AETC 58 OG/CD
To: 58 SOW All Personnel

Subject: 58 SOW Bible Study: Every Wed, 1200-1300 in the TRS Auditorium

You are invited to a weekly 58 SOW Bible Study on Wednesdays, from 1200-1300, in the 58 TRS Auditorium-a Chaplain-sponsored event. If you are interested, read below for more details: 

We will be beginning a study on the book of Romans, starting with Chapter 1 this Wed (6 April), and would love for you to join us.

Romans is a powerful book that lays out the foundational truths of Christianity and the riches of our personal relationship with God, once we believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. It is the most complete treatise on the Christian faith in the entire New Testament. The book of Romans also has a central part in the history of western civilization. The gospel of Jesus Christ and the foundational truths of this book had a powerful impact on the Roman Empire and God continued to work through his Church and the Bible to shape the rest of western civilization, including our own great nation. Come join us for an amazing journey through God’s Word.

Hope to see you there!

God bless,
[ ] Lt Col, USAF
Deputy Commander, 58 Operations Group

Naturally, this was publicized by Michael Weinstein’s Military Religious Freedom Foundation.

So, a simple question:  Can a military officer advertise a Bible study?

More to follow.

See prior discussions on Chaplains expressing religious speech (in two separate cases), the propriety of Chaplains’ sermons, espousing religious beliefs, standing near religious symbols while in uniform, appearing on a religious program in uniform, and the use of “official email” to announce religious events.


  • Sounds like a perfectly acceptable message to me. This commander is informing email recipients about a command-sponsored event. Although the chaplain is leading the event, he is doing so as part of the commander’s religious support plan. The commander actually has the statutory responsibility to provide religious support. Therefore, the author of this email has done nothing wrong by letting others know about the event. It’s important to note that this was not a proselytizing email: it only contained information about an upcoming event.

  • I believe he should have just announced the bible study and nothing else. He is also proselytizing by “preaching” in so far as that he believes the book of Romans has had some influence on “our own great nation”, and lastly his signature block cannot contain “god bless”; at least on AF networks.

  • @Daniel Sparks
    A reasonable answer, though the information seems to indicate the Commander, not a Chaplain, is leading the event.

    Do you have an AFI reference for why “God bless” is prohibited?

  • AFI 33-100, para 6.3 (and Attachment 3)

    Restrict the signature block to name, rank,service affiliation, duty title, and phone numbers (DSN and/or commercial as appropriate) after the “//SIGNED//” entry, do not add slogans and quotes. Examples of appropriate signature blocks are in Attachment 3.

  • watchtower:

    AFI 1-1, para 1.1 (and Attachment 1)

    “Who the hell cares?!?”

  • mik,

    I wouldn’t want your attitude carrying over to any of my troops.

  • @watchtower
    Not to nit, but your citation would only apply to text after the closing phrase in question, so it does not support your position. Nice call out to an infrequently referenced AFI, though.

  • Well JD, AFI’s were invented to allow as much ambiguity as possible and give Commanders grey areas to “interpret” them any way they like. I’m was much more surprised you didn’t throw me under the bus for saying he was “proselytizing by preaching in his email.”

    Mik – that is one of the problems in the US Military [AF] today…who the hell cares that we have AFI’s and Reg’s to follow; they are only used today to get out of something they don’t want to do.

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