Air Force Pulls SOS Material with “Chapel”

The Air Force has withdrawn an essay that referenced chapel attendance in its correspondence course for junior officers.

The decision came after the Military Religious Freedom Foundation demanded in a March 27 letter to Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz that the service stop using the document on the grounds that it violates the U.S. Constitution.

The Air Force responded to Weinstein’s complaint by saying the coursework would have been withdrawn in this summer’s scheduled curriculum review anyway, as it has already been removed from the in-residence course the correspondence version mimics.

Weinstein was quick to claim “victory” for his role in curriculum monitoring.  While someone in the Air Force probably thought “we were going to do it anyway” was a neutrally defensible answer, the perception the Air Force acquiesced to yet another Weinstein demand neither placated him nor improved the situation (as it never has).  In fact, as in other cases, it emboldened him:

In a follow-up letter to Gerald Girard, deputy director, administrative law directorate for the JAG office, the MRFF reiterated its demand that all SOS materials be reviewed to ensure there are not similar problems with other course materials.
Weinstein said his group would move ahead with a lawsuit if a review is not begun within two weeks. notes Weinstein has filed “several lawsuits…but threatened many more over the past eight years.”  It fails to note filing (and threatening) lawsuits does not equal legitimacy.  Weinstein has lost every single lawsuit.

One of the more interesting tidbits revealed in this situation was the Air Force’s response to Weinstein’s letter:

As indicated in our previous correspondence, this office represents the Air Force with regard to these issues. Accordingly, please direct any future correspondence to this office.

In other words, they’ve been telling Weinstein to stop sending complaints to the Secretary of the Air Force and Chief of Staff, which has been his habit. It seems Weinstein’s special access to Air Force leadership might have been placed at risk.


  • Of course, JD neglects to mention that the reason the Air Force is even doing that review of its curriculum materials in the first place is because of MRFF’s victory in getting the “Jesus Loves Nukes” training removed from the missile officer training. So, yeah, all of this is because of MRFF! Yay us!

  • Of course, @Chris Rodda, never having been involved in education, neglects to mention that every academic institution (including those in the military) has regularly scheduled curriculum reviews.

    If the MRFF was so certain the curriculum review was occurring due to their antagonism, they wouldn’t be demanding proof of such a review within two weeks to avoid a lawsuit. Oops.

  • The SOS article “suggested” attendance at chapel, it never made it a mandatory point, never listed it as a “Christian” only activity and ultimately pointed to high moral values needed by staff officers to set example for those in their command.

    In a current AF climate of highest suicide rate in AF history, continued sexual assault issues, marriages and family dysfunction & divorces let me congratulate MRFF in a job well done assisting us. We couldn’t have had the year we’ve had without you!

  • @J Fish

    Seriously J Fish? The people committing those acts are responsible for them, we cannot place blame on someone else for [their] choices. It’s like saying the devil made them do it. It has been documented the high suicide rates can be attributed to numerous deployments and debt to name a few. Sexual assault has been occurring on this world since time began and divorce can be blamed on many other things besides your implication. Everyone committing or succumbing to these crimes and tragities could have sought help. So much for high moral values, lets try to help instead of blaming!

  • @watchtower

    lets try to help instead of blaming!

    That’s part of the point, I think. Many times the military tries to “help” it is accused of foisting religion on its servicemembers because one possible mechanism of “help,” for some people, might be faith-based. (Some anti-theists, for example, get riled up every time a chaplain is mentioned as one option in suicide prevention training, despite the fact chaplains are trained, confidential counselors for everyone.) The end result is the military does everything in its power to avoid references to religion — even if there may be value in it for some people.

    Incidentally, the Army has publicly stated the “connection” between multiple deployments and suicide is a common misconception and is actually statistically weak. You can read the 200 page report, or just take the line that says

    “…non‐deployers and one‐time deployers have decreased from 75% of all Active Component suicides in FY2009 to 64% in FY2011.”

  • JD … How about giving us even one example to support your statement that anyone gets “riled up every time a chaplain is mentioned as one option in suicide prevention training?”

  • Chris — I can verify JD’s statement to some degree. I was on a flight along with a Marine Lt Col and he was adamant about that the clergy should not be involved with suicide issues. He implied they are not as “trained” as some might believe. His point was that a suicidal person needed medical attention (phycologist), not a preacher. In our conversation I asked the Marine what if the suicidal person wanted to off themselves because of marital problems (adultery for example)…how is that necessarily a medical issue? He really couldn’t answer my question to my satisfaction, but was still adamant that clergy should not be on the senior staff advising on this issue. At the very least I did mention clergy are capable of talking to troops and as an officer in the Military can refer them to a more appropriate expert(s) if they aren’t that person already.

    While I admit clergy would not be my first choice, I would not hesitate for one minute to refer a Military person to clergy if I thought [they] could help them. The Marine Lt Col said he would “council” his troops personally before referring them (to clergy)…and we left it at that.

    JD — I was surprised to read the misconceptions of suicide rates and deployments…interesting.