Senator Tells Air Force to Explain Response to MRFF Complaint

A few other media sources are catching up to Senator John Cornyn’s (R-TX) letter to the Secretary of the Air Force released on Monday.

Suspending a course like this because of references to religious texts misinterprets the First Amendment. [The Constitution] does not, as some have argued, protect them from exposure to religious references.

(Some continue to use the word “misrepresents,” though the published letter says “misinterprets.”)

Michael Weinstein’s MRFF — which claims a Constitutional right to freedom “from” religion — will no doubt be along to defend its “victory” in its prior coercion of the Air Force.  However, Senator Cornyn’s point is not only valid, its important.

As already noted, the course addressed a wide variety of potential objections to the use of nuclear weapons; religion was only one of them, and given the relative religiosity of the American culture, it is reasonable to expect.

The course also provided possible responses to those objections.  For example, for those who might object to the use of nuclear weapons due to the number of casualties they inflict, the brief noted as many people died in the firebombing of Tokyo earlier in World War II.  Likewise, to those who might have expressed a Christian reservation, it noted Christian Biblical references.

Though the MRFF didn’t mention it, for those who might have Jewish reservations, it made Jewish references as well.

Senator Cornyn rightly points out there is no expectation the military should purge itself of religious references.  The mere presence of religious references is not the illegal, coercive act some are making it out to be.

The Air Force personnel who have taken this course for the past 20 years have been free to determine, according to their own consciences, whether they accept or reject the premises of just war theory.

The same is true for every other reference in the course.  The Christian references did not promote Christianity any more than the Jewish ones did Judaism.  Those slides were no more used to “defend” the use of nuclear weapons than were the ones referencing Tokyo or von Braun.

It is important to note that a hypersensitivity to religion could result in a violation of the Constitutional protections of religious freedom, not the defense of it.  If, for example, military members felt the Air Force’s perfunctory pulling of the course after a complaint had the effect of legitimizing that complaint — despite all the other factors involved — they might feel the military was, in effect, creating an environment “hostile” to the Christian faith.

What are the chances Michael Weinstein would defend those military members?

Also noted at the Religion Clause.


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  • Senator Cornyn is terribly mistaken. Let us put this to rest once and for all. In the Supreme Court decision (Lemon Vs. Kurzman – 1971) the court held that government officials including the Armed Forces, in the normal course of their duties, may not elevate, prefer, recommend or poselytize one religion over another or religion over non-religion. This decision is made part of the First Amendment.

    The course in question contained exclusive Christian scripture and doctrinal material which, under the ruling, is a breach of constitutional provision. We are seeing a United States Senator who, by his own acts, is officially prefering Christianity over other faiths. The Senator, by virtue of using his position to advance his unbridled faith is in de facto violation of the US Constitution.

  • @Richard
    Your comment is self-contradictory. The fact a course “contained exclusive” religious content does not “elevate, prefer, recommend or poselytize;” therefore, it is not objectionable even by your own definition.

    Of course, you’ll reply that he’s a “dominionist” trying to take over the world in concert with James Dobson, and therefore anything he says regarding religion is suspect. Such conspiracy theories based on personal fantasies are sometimes entertaining, but they provide little basis for denigrating a sitting US Senator.

  • Let’s say these religious references are perfectly and completely constitutional, for the sake of the argument. Now, constitutional or not, why is the senator so eager to ensure that these religious references are kept? Is it just because they make the best secular training for these officers? Doubtful, it is much more likely he agrees with not only the logic behind the verses but the religion itself and he wants the verses included because they are of his religion. When a sitting U.S. Senator has such a view, I get worried. He seems to forget he represents in the Senate, a secular republic.

  • @Jerome McCollom

    constitutional or not, why is the senator so eager to ensure that these religious references are kept?

    Targeting Constitutionally-protected content for elimination because of its religious content would be…unConstitutional. It works both ways, you know.

    best secular training for these officers?

    No religious reference in this course was “training” of any sort. To say so is to ascribe a motivation unsupported by fact. As noted previously, and repeated above, the “purpose” of this course had nothing to do with ‘training’ or using religion to ‘justify’ anything.

  • @JD

    Excuse me but exclusivity implies favoritism and preference. Any use, distribution or recommendation of exclusive religious materials in government or armed forces is proselytizing and prohibited. Talk about self-contradiction.

    If a chain of command inserts Christian doctrinal material into a USAF Training course to the exclusion of other religious or non-religious material you can bet it is a preference and recommendation of the material therein inserted.

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