The office of the Air Force Judge Advocate General recently published its annual update to “The Military Commander and the Law,” (PDF) a 1,000-page desk book that isn’t authoritative but is intended to give commanders an overview of legal issues they may experience in their units.
The 2016 edition continues a tradition of including official JAG “Mikey Weinstein Guidance” originally inserted in 2010. Located specifically in the “religious issues” section, it says, in essence, that commanders should be very careful how they handle people and organizations who make complaints against their unit. It was clearly written for Mikey Weinstein, an activist and former JAG who makes threatening phone calls directly to military commanders telling them they’ll be sued or seen on CNN if they don’t comply [emphasis added]: Read more
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.
That was Col Scott McLaughlin, 446th Airlift Wing commander, a reserve airlift wing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.
In actuality, though, he wasn’t talking Read more
On October 6th, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein demanded the US Air Force “visibly punish” LtCol Michael Kersten for saying Jesus Christ affected his decisions during an official interview.
On October 13th, Col John Walker, the Air Base Wing Commander at Incirlik and LtCol Kersten’s boss, responded with the following, as publicized by Weinstein: Read more
In an awkward attack letter worthy of the logically-challenged Chris Rodda, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein recently demanded the “public” punishment of a US Air Force commander for the high crime of saying he was a Christian.
Weeks ago, LtCol Michael Kersten was highlighted in an Incirlik Air Base news article following him taking command of the 39th Medical Support Squadron in July. In that Q & A style piece, Kersten responded by mentioning Christ [emphasis added]: Read more
Kelly Shackelford of the First Liberty Institute wrote at the National Review that the US Supreme Court needs to review the case of court-martialed former US Marine Monifa Sterling:
Americans serving in the military lost some of their rights earlier this month when the military’s highest court ruled that a Marine has no rights under an important religious freedom law, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).
Shackelford explained where he believed the appeals court improperly diverged from the appropriate application of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act: Read more
Last month, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein claimed he had made an “important achievement” in “rebuilding the shattered wall separating church and state!” because, according to him, the Commanding Officer of the Air Force Recruiting Service promised to remove a chaplain recruiting video Weinstein found “inappropriate.” According to Weinstein, MajGen Garrett Harencak
responded within a few hours that all Chaplain [sic] videos are being removed pursuant to an overhaul of ‘AirForce.com’ and that he would see to it that the removal of this particular video is accelerated.
A month later, not only is the video still up at AirForce.com — but, in unusually blunt words, the Air Force is actually defending it [emphasis added]:
Air Force Headquarters at the Pentagon told Military.com it does not see a problem with [the video]…
“Chaplains being available to airmen for spiritual support, and sharing these experiences in their official capacity, does not violate the establishment clause or Air Force regulations.”
There are three important issues here: Read more
The US Air Force Academy released a statement declaring that cadet football players would not be prohibited from taking a knee in the endzone prior to games. As reported at the Air Force Times, USAFA said [emphasis added]:
The United States Air Force Academy places a high value on the rights of its members to observe the tenets of their respective religion or to observe no religion at all.
Recently the United States Air Force Academy received a complaint about its football players kneeling in prayer. An inquiry was initiated, which found the football players’ actions to be consistent with Air Force Instruction 1-1 and its guidance on the free exercise of religion and religious accommodation…
The United States Air Force Academy will continue to reaffirm to cadets that all Airmen are free to practice the religion of their choice or subscribe to no religious belief at all. The players may confidently practice their own beliefs without pressure to participate in the practices of others.
Weinstein’s response was typical: Read more
Tony Carr, a retired USAF Squadron Commander who is now a frequent public critic of the Air Force, wrote a piece on his John Q. Public blog excoriating Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh for the Air Force’s “new” attitude toward privacy. Carr quotes what he describes as the objectionable portion of Gen Welsh’s statement [emphasis added]:
We’ve captured the Air Force’s culture and standards in AFI 1-1. We all know 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, on and off-duty, Airmen have signed up to live up to Air Force Standards and Core Values. Through all the different ways in which Airmen communicate and interact, respect and dignity are essential. It doesn’t matter whether it’s in person, by text, twitter, or the latest social media app, we are all personally accountable for what we say and post.
Carr objects to the implication that the Air Force will hold Airmen accountable for everything they say, even privately, with the only standard being vague Read more