Weinstein Says Jump, Air Force asks How High
The Air Force has reportedly removed a chow hall poster because Michael “Mikey” Weinstein didn’t like it.
Mikey immediately called the Pentagon because, you know, he can do that…
Mikey gave the Air Force an hour to take action.
By the time Mikey talked to the Wing Commander at the base a few minutes later, the Wing Commander had already been contacted by the Pentagon.
Fifty-six minutes after his call to the Pentagon, the image of the crusader…had been removed from the dining hall.
The image itself attests to the ignorant hypersensitivity of some critics. Said the email published by the MRFF:
I and countless other Airmen were forced to look at this “Crusader/USAF” painting while we ate.
Except there wasn’t anything “USAF” about it. The background of the poster was a medieval knight and flag, which faded into a law enforcement officer and American flag in the foreground. It had the word “Integrity” below it, with the Bible reference Matthew 5:9, which makes reference to “peacemakers.” That it was hanging in an Air Force chow hall made it no more an endorsement of a specific religion than does the base Taco Bell mean it endorses burritos.
More telling, though, is both the offense of the MRFF — and the active duty Airmen — at Christianity:
I believe the Department of Defense and the USAF shouldn’t be shamefully promoting a specific religion, and immediately removing this unconstitutional “Crusader/USAF” framed painting is one small step in overcoming the epidemic of out-of-control Christian religious extremism in our U.S. military.
Think of that for a moment: A member of the US Air Force is accusing his own service of allowing an “epidemic of out-of-control Christian religious extremism.” And what did the Air Force say in response? Nothing. Instead, it pulled down the poster to “remain neutral.”
Col. Christopher Short, the commander of the 366th Fighter Wing told Fox News the art work was removed as soon as he was made aware…
Sort said the picture was removed to remain in compliance with the Air Force’s position outlined in the Revised Interim Guidelines Concerning Free Exercise of Religion in the Air Force.
“The document states that we will remain officially neutral regarding religious beliefs — either officially endorsing nor disapproving any faith belief or absence of belief,” Short said.
Except the “Revised Interim Guidelines” were rescinded by Congress seven years ago, though AFI 1-1 largely repeats their content.
The problem, though, is that the poster itself neither endorses nor disapproves of any faith; but validating the accusations of those who claim it is proof of “Christian religious extremism” may “disapprove” of a specific religious faith — if it grants a false sense of legitimacy to the complaint.
The better answer would have been to educate both the MRFF and the Airmen about the concepts of religious liberty and tolerance — as well as the ability to be in a building without being offended by a single benign poster hanging on the wall.
Ultimately, the specific object of Weinstein’s scorn is irrelevant. Chris Rodda revels more in the fact that her boss has immediate influence over the US Air Force — something they were downplaying just a few weeks ago.
By pulling the trigger every time Michael Weinstein says “fire,” the Air Force runs the risk of validating the perception Congress stated just a few months ago — that the Air Force is “hostile to religion” or Christianity in particular, as is Weinstein. RADM Lee noted this perception was coming from the “lawyers;” notably, Weinstein’s public point of contact to date has been The JAG of the Air Force, LtGen Richard Harding.
It is notable that a “neutral” response resulted in a 56-minute kowtow. On the other hand, the former JAG of the Air Force, now retired LtGen Jack Rives, created the perception there are senior leaders in the Air Force who agree with Weinstein and want to “fight” the “evangelical coup” in their own service.
Weinstein’s self-proclaimed role of oversight of the US Air Force, using it as but one more tool in his “war” with Christianity, doesn’t bode well for an environment of religious freedom in the US military.