Update: Air Force Launches Investigation into Booted Airman
In response to demands made by the First Liberty Institute regarding military religious freedom, Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James has reportedly instructed the Air Force Inspector General to review the incidents surrounding the forcible ejection of retired USAF SMSgt Oscar Rodriguez from a retirement ceremony.
In a statement that has been repeated across a variety of media outlets, the Air Force has also explicitly said retirement ceremonies are personal events at which retirees may have flag-folding scripts at their discretion [emphasis added]:
Air Force personnel may use a flag folding ceremony script that is religious for retirement ceremonies. Since retirement ceremonies are personal in nature, the script preference for a flag folding ceremony is at the discretion of the individual being honored and represents the member’s views, not those of the Air Force.
The Air Force places the highest value of the rights of its personnel in matters of religion and facilitates the free exercise of religion by its members.
If that is the official position, it is unclear why no official statement has been made validating the demands of SMSgt Rodriguez, who has asked for an apology and punitive action against those who accosted him for doing what the Air Force has now said is permissible.