Tag Archives: afi 1-1

USAFA AOCs Conduct Religious Respect Training

An Air Force Academy press release notes that the active duty Air Force officers who lead cadet squadrons — known as Air Officers Commanding, or AOCs — recently conducted religious respect training for their cadets:

Cadets in the Class of 2014 attended the sessions, learning how best to consider both their views and the views of their subordinates and how best to balance the Free Exercise and Establishment clauses of the First Amendment to the Constitution.

Given the somewhat controversial history of religious issues at USAFA (many of which were initiated by external critic Michael “Mikey” Weinstein), the fact the training is occurring is notable.

What is more interesting, however, was the tone of the training conveyed in the article, as heard from the AOC of Might Mach 1, exchange Marine Corps Major Christopher Klempay:

As a commander, I am very sensitive not to force my religion on you, but at the same time, I want to encourage your spirituality, Read more

Senator Ted Cruz on Military Religious Liberty

This is an administration that has told servicemen and women that they cannot share their faith or risk discipline.  This is an administration that has reprimanded an Air Force chaplain in Alaska for writing in a blog post “there are no atheists in foxholes.”  Now, mind you, he was quoting President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who, I might note, has some passing familiarity with the military…

“The Administration” can either be interpreted as a broad swath of people that includes the Secretary of Defense, or potentially a direct reference to the President.

It is exceedingly difficult — though it has been tried — Read more

Michael Weinstein Interprets Religious Regulations for Air Force

Michael Weinstein was once jokingly referred to as the new Secretary of the Air Force after his apparent easy access to — and influence of — Air Force leaders was revealed.  It seems Weinstein himself is now trying to fulfill that “role.”

On 19 September Ms. Deborah Lee James, nominee for Secretary of the Air Force, testified at the Senate Armed Services Committee and was asked several questions about military religious freedom by Senator David Vitter (R-La).

As noted in the Air Force Times — not in their news, but in commentator Robert Dorr’s opinion column — Vitter brought up several “documented cases” of restrictions on religious liberty:

Sen. David Vitter, R-La., asked James if it’s acceptable for an airman to have a Bible on his desk or for a chaplain to end a prayer “in Jesus’ name.”…

James told Vitter: “Having a Bible on your desk, that doesn’t seem like it should be banned.”

James’ answer is consistent with what the Air Force has officially said to date.  In May of this year, Air Force spokeswoman LtCol Laura Tingley told blogger William Throckmorton, in response to that same allegation:  Read more

Airmen Files Religious Complaint, Gets Investigated

Air Force Senior Master Sergeant Philip Monk, who had filed a complaint of religious discrimination, had apparently inspired an Air Force investigation into his claims.  Now it seems he is being investigated for making a “false official statement.”

The Air Force has taken the first steps to criminally investigate Monk for talking to the media about his situation…

On Aug. 27, an Air Force investigator met with Monk and his attorney, Mike Berry from Liberty Institute. Berry expected it to be a routine meeting to take a statement from his client, but during the meeting the investigator said that he would read Monk his Miranda rights.

Monk was advised that he is being investigated Read more

Air Force Investigates Claim of Religious Discrimination

The Stars and Stripes reports the Air Force has launched an investigation at Lackland Air Force Base to determine if Senior Master Sergeant Phillip Monk was a victim of religious discrimination. Monk had claimed he was essentially “fired” by his commander for his religious views.

Training wing spokeswoman Colleen McGee said…the Air Force has launched an investigation into Monk’s claims, to determine if any command violations may have occurred.

Notably, the Liberty Institute — a part of Read more

MRFF: Air Force Created New Regulation Because of Christians

As previously noted, Michael Weinstein boasts about his hate mail like some people do pictures of their grandkids.  The MRFF publishes some of those emails, and, more often than not, a “volunteer” staff member posts an online rebuttal.  The replies are often critical and sarcastic, meaning they’re mostly red meat for MRFF acolytes.  Occasionally, though, one reveals the underbelly of the MRFF opposition to religious liberty.

Such was the case with Joan Slish, an MRFF “advisory board” member who has two claims to fame: First, according to the MRFF website, she left the Assembly of God because they were the wrong kind of Christian (though she oddly still claims an AoG Pastorate).  Second, she inadvertently revealed in 2011 that the MRFF was the arbiter of “true” Christianity — telling the world the MRFF would vitriolically attack the religious liberty of the wrong kind of Christian.  (Weinstein was already doing that; Slish was simply the first ‘staff member’ to admit it.)

Now she can add a third trophy:  An official MRFF email reply riddled with statements at times false, at others ridiculous, and almost always comical — but one that also has another peek behind the MRFF curtain.

She falters right out of the gate in following the MRFF tradition of Read more

Commander Who Pulled Chaplain Post Issues Statement

Update:  An Army Chaplain weighed in with a response to Col Duffy’s decision to pull Chaplain Reyes’ article, and a comment on the Commander’s statement from a recently retired Air Force Colonel takes Col Duffy to task:

Sir…Can you understand how your actions in kowtowing to [MRFF] threats now opens you and your fellow Blue Suiters up to even more insidious actions? Do you think this group will just roll over after having demanded that you take administrative actions against Lt Col Reyes for having had the audacity to write and publish this article? After they labeled his use of “no atheists in foxholes,” as a “… bigoted, religious supremacist” phrase? I believe we both know the answer to that question.

Sir, you hit the nail right on the head when you stated that you must protect the constitutional right of free speech and the free practice of religion…Where you go wrong is when you decide that this article, regarding faith and one’s perception of it in their own life, somehow is “governmental establishment of religion.”

The Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Facebook page was inundated with criticisms of Col Brian Duffy’s decision to pull Chaplain (LtCol) Kenneth Reyes’ column and issue an apology to Michael Weinstein. Those criticisms appear to have been completely deleted and replaced with a statement from the Colonel.

In short, the Colonel admits the article was removed out of concern for “those who may have been offended,” and called his decision a

“balance…between constitutional protections for free exercise of religion and the constitutional prohibition against governmental establishment of religion.”

A few commenters called that out, given that not even the MRFF claimed the Air Force was violating the First Amendment with the article.  Besides, the Constitution says nothing about “offense,” which is the stated reason the article was pulled (which caused a spate of responses claiming various things were offensive, and demanding Col Duffy remove more content from his website).  Several atheists chimed in and criticized the censorship as well — noting it wasn’t an “atheist vs Christian thing” — but a Weinstein vs Christian thing.

Then, though, the Colonel turned stern and took the unusual step of commenting on potential punishment — something normally rebutted with a “we make no comment on personnel matters.”  In short, this time Col Duffy flatly refused Michael Weinstein’s demands and says he has “not and will not reprimand anyone.”  The entire statement follows:  Read more

Air Force Chief Scrubs Unit of Religious Resources

A high ranking member of the Air Force tears down posters at his base because he disagrees with their religious viewpoint.  Think that’s actionable?

Michael Weinstein’s research assistant, Chris Rodda, once railed against a group of military Christian officers who had the gall to publicly state their Christian beliefs to an audience of fellow believers.  Weinstein himself called for a General officer to be court-martialed for telling his subordinates about the ‘life rules’ he lived by — which included references to God.  In these and other cases Weinstein and his acolytes have decried as illegal and unconstitutional the words of military members expressing portions of their religious faith. To be clear, there were no actions involved — only words consistent with the protected exercise of religious liberty.

It seems for a couple of military atheists, though, there’s certainly some action — and thus far, Weinstein has yet to defend “religious freedom” from their conduct:

An enlisted Airman recently introduced himself by his name and rank to a group of like-minded military atheists:    Read more

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