Friday, February 10


So the Air Force has reneged on its promises to curb religious right proselytizing at the Academy. It caved to pressure from the religious right.

So now commanders can feel free to “express their faith” by trying to convert undergraduates whether those students are receptive to the message or not.

In my view, this is akin to the CEO of my company calling me into his office and sharing his religious views with me. I may not be fired for declining to be converted or attending his church, but I will surely feel that my rejection of his offer may be detrimental to my future advancement in the company and thus feel pressured to “join up.” This is a totally inappropriate action on the employer’s part, and especially so on the part of a governmental institution such as the Air Force Academy.

"This does affirm every airman's right, even the commanders' right, to free exercise of religion, and that means sharing your faith," said Maj. Gen. Charles C. Baldwin, the Air Force's chief of chaplains.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a Washington-based group whose investigation of the Air Force Academy helped spark the controversy last year, said the revisions "focus heavily on protecting the rights of chaplains, while ignoring the rights of nonbelievers and minority faiths."

Michael L. "Mikey" Weinstein, an Albuquerque lawyer who is suing the Air Force over its policy on religion, questioned the sentence allowing commanders to share their faith when it is "reasonably clear" that they are speaking personally, not officially.

"Reasonably clear from whose perspective, the superior's or the subordinate's?" asked Weinstein, a 1977 Air Force Academy graduate. "When a senior member of your chain of command wants to speak to you 'reasonably' about religion, saying 'Get out of my face, sir!' is not an option."

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