US Representative Randy Forbes (R-Va) has written a letter (PDF) signed by 35 members of the House asking the Air Force restore a unit’s motto that was changed after an atheist’s complaint. The incident to which Rep Forbes is referring was actually first reported on ChristianFighterPilot.com, with the Religion Clause and the ADF Alliance Alert subsequently citing this site.
As noted three weeks ago, the USAF Rapid Capabilities Office responded to “needling” from former Army Captain Jason Torpy, an atheist, and changed its motto from “Doing God’s work with other people’s money” to “Doing miracles with other people’s money.”
The letter, addressed to Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz, says:
It has come to our attention that the US Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO) has modified the logo on its official patch to remove its reference to “God,” following a complaint from the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers. Because such an alteration certainly was not required by the First Amendment to the US Constitution, we call on you to reverse the troubling decision…
…we are deeply concerned that the RCO capitulated to pressure from an outside group that consistently strives to remove reference to God and faith from our nation’s military.
The action taken by the RCO suggests that all references to God, regardless of their context, must be removed from the military…we ask that you reverse this perplexing decision.
Ordinarily, it is unlikely the request would be fulfilled. The same is true when Michael Weinstein writes letters to the heads of the Air Force over the actions of individuals or individual units. Secretary Donley and General Schwartz almost certainly weren’t involved in the decision to change the patch, and it would be fairly unusual for an edict to come from that level ordering an individual unit to change their patch. This case is somewhat unique, however, because the “rapid” nature of the RCO shortened its chain of command: It reports directly to a Board of Directors, upon which sits the Secretary of the Air Force and the Chief of Staff.
The letter also highlights to the American public how much antagonism and coercion the US military faces from activist atheist or anti-religious freedom persons and organizations — note Forbes’ remark about “capitulation.” Michael Weinstein has practically trademarked his “Weinstein Method” of coercing the US military to conform to his personal agenda. Fortunately, the military has started to wise up to his methods, and even explicitly encourages commanders not to give in to an angry phone call from such an activist.
Many people and military units probably think their individual fight isn’t worth the trouble, so they give in in the hopes it will placate the critics and they’ll go away, causing the least hubbub in the process. The Air Force, at least, has learned that doesn’t work for Weinstein — for him, its something along the lines of “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.” Weinstein takes each capitulation as a validation of his vendetta; rather than placating him, it emboldens him. Just ask LtGen Mike Gould, USAFA Superintendent, about trying to establish goodwill with Michael Weinstein.
As was noted at the time, the attack on the RCO motto was an asinine thing for Torpy to get worked up over.
Now the world knows just how important it is to him that not even a Latin reference to “God” in a clever euphemism should be left to stand.
The original and edited patches are below: