Update: Air Force Backs Chaplain Hernandez on Religious Freedom
Air Force Reserve spokesman Lt. Col. Chad Gibson said Hernandez is expressing his own views, not those of the Air Force, and his freedom to express his own faith is an essential protection in the military. The Air Force is not conducting an investigation, he said.
“I think we should reflect on why the Air Force is here,” Gibson said. “We are sworn to protect freedom of faith and religion unless it infringes on other people’s rights.”
That’s an admirably bold and direct statement from the Air Force that actually defends Hernandez’s right to express his views.
The note that the Air Force is “not conducting an investigation” contradicts the opposite assertion by Michael “Mikey” Weinstein who, without citing a source, claims he was assured an investigation was ongoing. [Update: Stars and Stripes has corrected their article to indicate Weinstein called on the DoD IG, not the Air Force, to conduct an investigation.]
Weinstein claimed Hernandez was “trying to establish a religious faith and…creat[e] a religious test” — though he provided no explanation to support his accusation.
For his part, Chaplain Hernandez seemed to admit he didn’t communicate well in his original article:
Hernandez acknowledged that his words could be misconstrued as advocating discrimination against people of other faiths or practices. He is not advocating that anyone should “be abandoned or ostracized.”
“If I had to rewrite it, I would say this is my position,” he said. “In no way would I try to tell anyone they are not equal or that someone deserves to be mistreated or is not worthy.”