Air Force Colonel Implores Christian Troops to Live Faith Boldly
In an official Air Force article, a US Air Force Wing Commander and Colonel encouraged his fellow Airmen to “lead fearlessly” and speak boldly and “honest[ly]” about their faith [emphasis added]:
Lead fearlessly and…take advantage of your right to be honest with your fellow airmen. I know this may still be difficult for some, but I can tell you first hand [this] is truly a liberating and enriching experience—one that makes you a better leader and the Air Force a better place to serve.
In actuality, though, he wasn’t talking about religious freedom. He was talking about his sexuality:
I respected DADT during its 18 year enforcement; however, my compliance was not an easy thing to do.
I was asked to be untruthful about who I was in an organization that valued integrity first…
I worried about my partner (now spouse) of 17 years holding our household together while I was deployed without any of the support offered to other military spouses…
Had this been an actual article encouraging religious exercise, fearless leadership, and an Airman’s “right to be honest” about his faith, it almost certainly would have been publicly lambasted and potentially would have been censored, perhaps even before it was published. This despite the fact religious exercise and expression are protected by the US Constitution and are explicitly encouraged by US Air Force regulations — while specific sexual practices are not. Religious exercise and expression also “make Airmen better leaders and the Air Force a better place to serve,” amazingly enough.
When a Wing Commander uses his position of power and authority to proclaim his sexual preference — and to encourage other Airmen to talk about homosexuality with their peers — it is filed under a “celebration” of “diversity.” While the point of view certainly has its detractors, no organizations who oppose the social acceptance of homosexuality demanded the article be removed or called for the court-martial of its author.
By contrast, when a military officer writes an article that so much as mentions his Christian faith — much less encourages conversations about Christianity within the workplace — he is attacked by anti-Christian activists and, in many cases, his public speech is either censored by the military or voluntarily pulled down to avoid controversy. In fact, it is difficult to find a counter-example because so few articles encouraging the free exercise of faith have been published by the military — though that isn’t for lack of them being written.
Notably, the article by Col McLaughlin is very similar in personal theme to one written by Col Florencio Marquinez in 2014 — an article that was pulled down because someone complained that he, also a Colonel, had dared to mention Jesus Christ.
A year earlier, the Air Force had censored an article by Air Force Chaplain (LtCol) Kenneth Reyes after Mikey Weinstein’s MRFF claimed they were offended. The article was only restored after civil liberties groups within the Military Religious Freedom coalition intervened, pointing out the Air Force was violating the very constitutional principles it claimed it was defending just to assuage someone’s personal “offense.” Notably, the articles were only restored after a disclaimer was added to each one. (No disclaimer is attached to any Airman’s personal story about sexuality, however.)
While the military has occasionally rebuffed those who have attacked military religious freedom, in no case has the military defended the virtue of their troops’ religious exercise the same way they’ve lauded the virtue of troops expressing their neo-sexual preferences. (Note the Air Force article above proclaimed the virtue of spreading the message of homosexuality to others in the Air Force. It encourages, in a manner of speaking, proselytizing for homosexuality.)
To their credit, the closest the Air Force seems to have gotten is the response to Mikey Weinstein regarding LtCol Michael Kersten’s interview, in which he described the importance of his Christian faith, though even that didn’t defend the virtue of LtCol Kersten’s faith or expression.
Still, it seems a few military units have simply prohibited their Public Affairs offices from even publishing anything mentioning Jesus Christ to avoid the controversy caused by those who would complain (to wit, LtCol Kersten’s local interview). In other words, some Air Force officers have restricted religious speech for personal expediency — meaning they’re doing their critic’s job for them. (Perhaps if outside groups did start calling for courts-martial over military officers’ sexual advocacy, the same stigma might be attached to that topic and sex and religion would at least get “equal treatment.”)
Remember, too, the Air Force officially encourages Airmen to “confidently practice” their religious faith (AFI 1-1), and
Every Airman also has the right to individual expressions of sincerely held beliefs…
By contrast, the entire military is discouraging shop talk on sex due to the ongoing scandals regarding harassment, sexual assault, etc.
But if talking about sex is inappropriate in the office environment — as the military will officially say it is — why is the Air Force publicizing information about a senior Air Force officer’s chosen sexual lifestyle, while denying another senior officer’s personal story in which he “confidently practice[d]” his faith?