Group Objects After Air Force Pulls Commander’s Article on Faith

The 180th Fighter Wing Commander has reportedly censored an article written by his Medical Group Commander, Col Florencio Marquinez, because of a complaint by Michael “Mikey” Weinstein.  (The article can be read here.)

According to the Christian legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), [a civilian] complained about Marquinez’ article, claiming that it was “odious” and “offending.” In response to the complaint, Commander Col. Craig R. Baker ordered the newsletter to be republished without Marquinez’ piece.

Weinstein claimed full credit, praising the commander.  The “odious” and “offending” words were his [emphasis added]: 

The Commander…is one of the most amazingly impressive leaders I have ever dealt with in all the years of MRFF’s civil rights activism…After merely speaking with me once over the phone…[he] immediately realized the seriousness of this egregious Constitutional and Air Force regulation…violation. Consequently, he ordered the expeditious removal, within at most a couple of hours of MRFF’s intervention, of that odious and offending proselytizing commentary

The Alliance Defending Freedom, a part of the Restore Military Religious Freedom coalition, disagreed:

ADF Legal Counsel Joseph La Rue wrote in a report on the matter on Friday that he believes Baker’s actions run counter to the Constitution because they amount to censorship…

“The Supreme Court has explained that, when the government allows discussion by others of certain topics in its publications, it is not allowed to impose restrictions that discriminate among viewpoints on those subjects. So, because the military allows discussions about ‘what has made your life better,’ ‘what helps you as you lead your troops,’ or secular psychological principles, it is not allowed to say that some answers are okay, while others aren’t.”

(Col Marquinez has also previously written for The Stinger.)  The military may have room for restricting certain speech, but targeting speech because it is religious probably doesn’t fall in that category. Further, the language itself was benign [emphasis original]:

Common sense tells us that it would be wrong, of course, for Col. Marquinez to order those under his command to attend church, or to follow Jesus. But that’s not what he did.  No: he merely said, Jesus has helped me, and if you have problems, you should consider letting Him help you, too. There’s nothing wrong or improper about that.

The Air Force has run into this conflict before. It once censored a chaplain’s article — after a similar complaint from Weinstein’s group — and was then forced to restore it after a public outcry, though it did so with a disclaimer. By contrast, an atheist Air Force article received neither the aggressive attention nor the disclaimer. But then, Weinstein didn’t complain about the atheist article — just the one by a Christian chaplain.

Col Marquinez

The ADF’s LaRue is correct. Col Marquinez did nothing more than express the foundations upon which he relied, as other commanders in the Air Force have been invited to do. That Weinstein is offended by that is of no consequence. Both society and the military are composed of citizens with opposing views — views they are not only allowed to express, but also encouraged to express.  Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh has said “every Airman has a story” and has called on Airmen to make their stories known. That a story may contain references to faith does not make it illegal — but censoring only one story because of its references to faith may be problematic, according to LaRue.

The expression of religious faith in the US military is supposed to be protected by US law, as it has been written into law twice by Congress. The US military tweaked its religious accommodation guidance earlier this year, purportedly in response to that law, but it focused almost exclusively on hair and clothing — a point that frustrated the congressmen who wrote the law. As required by that same law, the military is currently evaluating whether it has promulgated the required regulations to meet the intent of the law.

Weinstein has gained many of his “victories” by bullying Air Force commanders who have never heard of him — which may explain this “rapid response” by an obscure Guard unit (though, interestingly enough, Col Bluto Baker, who took command only last March, is active duty, holding a “dual status” with the National Guard). After they learn who he is, commanders have been less open to his “advice” (advice Air Force JAGs have advised commanders to ignore to begin with), and have even come to regret their initial actions.

Will the Air Force reverse itself again? It will be an interesting situation to watch.

For his part, LaRue encouraged others to use the same avenue Weinstein did, and call the commander — even providing the number to the base.  The military has said it gives Weinstein no special access to commanders, so LaRue seems to think others should be able to speak to the commander, too.



  • I can tell from this illegal censorship that the Air Force is not promulgating the federal law, but are in direct disobedience of it. How egregious and arrogant!

    • Col Baker,
      You are in violation of our great constitution.
      Request you reverse your decision in regards to Col. Marquinez article about his Christian upbringing and the fact of how the light of God has guided his life.

  • So where do we have to be in the United States theology to remember the words, “For God and Country” so they still mean something to our Country’s military heroes. This type of liberal nonsense has gone way too far not to offend any one. What about the offensive nature in the way this man’s word’s were treated and by the way, who is paying for Mr. Weinstein’s campaign against this. Can we please start ignoring these ignorant examples of Americans, that have no idea of the fundamentals that this country is based upon. Prior to it turning socialist of course.

  • I know God was with me all through the Viet Nam war and I don’t mind telling my stories about those times. I feel we need all those “believers” to stand up and tell their stories and I admire Col. Marquinez for telling a small part of his. It is too bad we, The politically correct, U.S.A. has to bow down to the individual person or persons that disagree with the greater majority of the U.S.A. population on Christianity and the right to religious freedom. OK, let them voice their opinions about not believing, but also allow us to equally voice our opinions about believing.

    • Larry Nighswander

      Amen Brother

    • Amen, Donald!

      What has happened to freedom of speech? Our men & women in the Armed Forces, have & continue to fight for us to speak, rally, picket, write & read openly, except if you’re a Christian! Why are we not entitled to the same freedoms? Our rights are being trampled upon, because we’re afraid to offend somebody.

      Christians are like the frog in a pot of cold water on a hot stove. The water’s getting warmer & we don’t think we are being persecuted. When we will lose our right to be a Christian, only then will the silent majority speak up, too little, too late!

      God bless you & yours!
      God please keep blessing our United States of America!
      We ask in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

    • In my prior post, I forgot to tell you, my husband is retired SMSGT Charles Tritt. He served our country for 27 years. When Charlie was in Iraq & Pakistan, my Jesus helped me get through all of those tours of duty (TDY).

      Thank you for your service, Donald.

    • Right on, Donald. Do Mister Weinstein and others of his “atheistic”, socialistic, anarchist ilk, have a right to their opinion, and a right to privately and publically express these views? Like it or not, absolutely!! However, when they continue to “school-yard bully” others with a differing view into submitting to their (the bully’s) stance, due to a perceived “offence”, then it is time to shut these whiny cowards down, legally and permanently!!!! Don’t like our Judao-Christian Heritage, our Founding Leaders (both civic and spiritual), our Founding Documents and Guiding Principles, (Federal, State, or local), etc.,?…Don’t appreciate the God-given privileges, rights, and freedoms we have here….well, no one is forcing you to stay! Offended by that which legally, morally, and is Biblically-correct, is going on in my house, my neighborhood, city, state, or beloved country?….feel free to express your views. But telling me, or any other Believer, that we have no right to enjoy all these freedoms, that God has given, and the Law has guaranteed, just because you are “offended”… SHUT UP AND LEAVE!! And the sooner, the better!!!!!

  • Larry Nighswander

    I am a Viet Nam Veteran and I ashamed of our military, how weak kneed and politically correct they have become, and how a Muslim can kill 13 of his fellow soldiers and they call it work place violence. Lets get it straight, it is treason and he should have been lined up in front of firing squad and shot. I wonder if a Muslim had said how Allah has helped him would Weinstein have called his words odious and offensive ? If I would have gotten killed in Viet Nam I know that I would be in Hell today because Jesus Christ was not my Savior. Whether Weinstein knows it or not Jesus loves him and He proved it by dying on the cross for his (Weinstien’s) sins. I ask all believers to start praying for this country , that it will come back to the one and only true God, Jesus Christ. The Bible says, that the Nation that forgets God will be turned into Hell.

    • To Larry, Donald, and my fellow Christian ‘Nam vets…Thank you, and welcome home!! Comments are spot on.

  • I find this action by the Air Force bending over for everyone that screams ” it offends me”, insane. Who cares if your offended. Dont read it! These atheists don’t believe what many of you ( and myself) do. It cracks me up that they are so hell bent on forcing an agenda on something they don’t even believe in. It begs the question, why do they waste their time? They don’t believe, period. why spend time stifling what others do believe? Why do you care ? It is so ridiculous to me. And btw these people are lost souls that need the prayers of all of us that they do find the TRUTH.

  • Col. Marquinez’s article should be allowed after all if it can bring hope to some Vets! What is the hurt or crime in this? And what is the hurt in sharing a story? You don’t like it don’t read it!! Our Vets need hope!! Don’t take it away. Shame on anyone who dares to try to have any Christian expression or just simple sharing of stories with one another taken away!! One day you are going to need to say something and then your not going to be able to Sir because people like you who fight against people who simply want to express a little faith, hope or love is chastised and put out or killed! Who knows maybe someday one of our own or your own, who knows but God forbid someone is going to do worst and this country has come to that now and it’s a darn shame!! So Sad!! I would ask yourself “IF your enjoying your freedom now would you be willing to live without it all? If you allow this ignorance to continue it will get worst. This political correctness has to stop as well!!!

  • I worded myself wrong in the former message and was trying to fix it the line where it says beginning “shame on anyone….I meant to say it in a way meaning Shame on those who take those rights away from Christians who want to make a simple expression in hopes to help others” Sorry, for any confusion!

  • I myself am married to a man that was in the Air Force. We can not believe the way this branch of service is reacting to people religious believe. I am proud to see the men in uniform stand up to our American heritage and believe. Col Marquinez just expressed his mother’s faith and how much it meant to him. I am not seeing where he made any attempt to change or sway anyone in anyway.
    We fail to see that we are not to play as though we are Gods in our society, because he (God) is soverign. He is the alpha, omega the beginning and the end. I want to thank my mother and father for bringing me up in the faith and hope this will help someone else who has questions about their faith.

  • Clearly, Colonel Baker acted reflexively to divert fire from an aggressive anti-religionist. Sadly, this reflects poorly upon his skills as a leader of men and women serving in the armed forces of this country. He can partially repair the damage by reconsidering his decision and distributing to the same audience prints of the article he edited out, with apologies to his unit and the readers of the publication.

    Patrick Rumley

  • His article should have been printed. Non christians can speak out and say vile things with no reprimands. He sends out a message of love and encouragement and he “offends” someone. Please!!! Have some common sense!! I’m OFFENDED that man complained. Continue to stand for God!!!

  • I am sorry to hear that Col Florencio Marquinez article was pulled from “The Stinger”. I worked with many veterans as a respiratory therapist in a VA hospital, and the larger majority of them professed to love the Lord Jesus. Most said the little Bible they got before they left and prayer got them through the long nights in the foxholes. They ranged from World War II veterans to some currently harmed in the line of duty. These service men and women were some of the most polite and courteous people I have ever worked with. It was an honor to serve them. Their faith was amazing! Please let these service heroes tell the truth of how they got through battle, with returning veteran suicide so high, all hope is good hope. Jesus is my only hope. I will tell anyone that will listen that Jesus is Lord, He will help you through anything if you ask Him in.

  • God Bless you Col. Marquinez. As a retired USAF Veteran myself, I was pleased to see that there are still a few good Officers out there who follow the only law that really matters…..God’s law. Praying for you!

  • My step-son is in the military, as was my own father, and it is clear that the military is a specifically Christian culture. This is why it is the target of anti-God liberal administrations and politicians who attempt to shut down their ability to vote (as Gore did in 2000, et al) and why LGBT communities infiltrate the military at the officer level to specifically wage war from a position of decision-making.

    That they NEVER go after any other religion–including atheism (and techinically and legally, atheism’s Secular Humanism is recognized as a “religious faith” by the Supreme Court of the United States)–only underscores the validity and real threat that the true and living God behind Judaism and Christianity pose.

    But more to the point: what stands out to me is the blatant disregard for the welfare of the soldiers and the country they serve. It is the foundation and principles of Christianity that create the thrifty military that we have. The military’s sense of duty, of servitude, of properly dividing truth from falsehood and engaging only when justified, all stem from the deeply Christian heritage of our nation. Liberty itself is a strictly and soley Christian concept (being “liberated from death and eternal damnation”, being “free in Jesus”). Hence, only a military that understands where liberty comes from can appreciate the liberty that they fight to preserve.

    And along come the anti-God combatants, seemingly with an agenda and chip on their soldiers, who view the military as simply just another venue in which to wage war against the very ideology and faith that allows them to wage war against Christianity.

    This should underscore the destructive nature of folks like this. They need to be dealt with lovingly, yet without compromise.

  • I would certainly like to know what was considered to be “offending” about a man’s personal journey.