AF General Welsh, Duck Dynasty on Respect and Diversity

Continuing his theme of respect, Chief of Staff of the US Air Force General Mark Welsh published his latest Airman to Airman video (below), entitled “Dignity and Respect.”

General Welsh makes references to sexual assault and the common ill of ignoring “inappropriate jokes,” as well as saying some people have made the excuse that the “bad behavior is part of our heritage.” Some of those comments appear to be references to the perception of a plague of sexual assault in the military as well as the complaint that brought about the Air Force-wide scrub of offensive material.

Importantly, General Welsh said 

Everybody in our Air Force should feel respected…We should all recognize that diversity is very clearly a strength of this Air Force…

If you don’t feel like you can be a part of the culture of change, its time to look for a different job.

Naturally, that diversity and respect extends to many areas — including religious liberty.

In an era in which some social norms may conflict with religious liberty, “respect” is becoming a sticking point — even in the military. For example, the military does not appear to have disputed public allegations that an Air Force commander said a chaplain who opposed homosexuality was a “bigot,” nor has there been a public response to an Air National Guard commander who allegedly told his Airman that the Airman’s religious beliefs about homosexuality — only his beliefs, nothing else — potentially disqualified him from military service.

Even the plan for DADT repeal, some of which was cited to mollify critics of repeal by proving moral objections were not affected, specifically called out the need to respect those that had moral or religious opposition to the normalization of homosexuality.

Ultimately, General Welsh seems to agree:

I don’t have to agree with your opinion to respect your right to have one…


On that note, Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson provides a fascinating example in point:
In a wide-ranging and unflattering interview with GQ (graphic language on the part of the author, whom Robertson also evangelized during the interview), Robertson didn’t hold back when sharing his thoughts about homosexuality and sinning:

“Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong… Sin becomes fine,” he said. “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men.”

Paraphrasing Corinthians he added: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

Some of the Robertsons are known for their blunt talk, and Phil Robertson delivered, graphically describing his disbelief that two homosexual men could enjoy…that.

Homosexual advocates naturally blasted Robertson for his words, saying

“Phil’s decision to push vile and extreme stereotypes is a stain on A&E and his sponsors who now need to reexamine their ties to someone with such public disdain for LGBT people and families.”

It is unclear to what vaguely defined but it-must-be-bad “stereotype” they are referring.  Robertson, for his part, didn’t back down in the face of criticism — noting he was expressing his religious beliefs. He didn’t speak ill of anyone, nor disrespect anyone. He also didn’t apologize:

I centered my life around sex, drugs and rock and roll until I hit rock bottom and accepted Jesus as my Savior. My mission today is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together.

However, I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other.

He has a right to have, and express, his opinion and religious beliefs, and he’s right: He didn’t treat anyone disrespectfully. Merely having a religious belief and expressing that belief is not “disrespectful,” nor is it “discriminatory,” nor is it in any way, shape, or form illegal or impermissible. In fact, having and expressing such religious beliefs is a human liberty that, some people fail to remember, is protected by the US Constitution. (Importantly, religious freedom is not a constitutionally-derived liberty, but a human liberty that is constitutionally protected).

To paraphrase General Welsh, one does not have to agree with another person to respect another person’s right to believe as they do — and that’s “respect” that should flow in both directions.

From General Welsh: