FOX News Declares Obama Anti-Christian… For Air Force’s Decision to Keep Church and State Separate

In a dairy for the Daily Kos, Chris Rodda explains how, a couple years ago, she heard about how the American military was taking part in evangelical Christian events — a blatant violation of church/state separation.

The military was regularly providing flyovers at countless evangelical Christian events all over the country, not only violating the regulations prohibiting military participation in religious events, but spending millions of dollars of taxpayer money in the process.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation exposed what was happening and the participation in Christian events declined.

Most recently, MRFF got ahold of a response letter from the military to a request for further Air Force participation in a Christian ceremony:

Your Air Force aviation support request doesn’t fall into either approved category, as such, we are unable to approve it. Air Force and DoD policy prohibit support for events which appear to endorse, selectively benefit, or favor any special interest group, religious or ideological movement.

In other words, the Air Force said it would not participate in the “God and Country Festival” in Idaho last week. It’s a specifically Christian event and that violated the Constitution.

Organizers don’t deny the explicitly Christian nature of the annual patriotic rally.

“Yes, it’s about as Christian as you can get — we believe in promoting Christianity,” [Director Patti] Syme said. “And we have no plans to change that.”

Kudos to military personnel for fixing a 42-year-long error.

Now, cut to this morning…

Gretchen Carlson of Fox and Friends heard about what transpired. She invited Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition to discuss the event.

A partial transcript:

Carlson: So when I first read this story, I actually found it hard to believe. Because for 42 years, at this rally in Idaho, the Pentagon has authorized a flyover. Suddenly this year, a new president in office, and a new policy. What do you make of it?

Mahoney: Well, we’re stunned, actually, and it’s a reminder that our Constitution promises freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. I think the viewers need to understand, the flyovers that were held for 42 years were not to endorse or promote any religion, but to honor the military, who was there in force.

Mahoney: I think it causes one to pause and say, ‘What changed? After 42 years, what changed?’ And Gretchen, the only indicator we have is that we have a new commander in chief.

And I think that we are wondering, when we look at President Obama: Is there a culture of hostility toward expressions of faith in the public square — particularly Christian?

That pain you feel is the aching in your brain.

President Obama has nothing to do with this.

And the God and Country Festival is explicitly favoring one religion: Christianity.

You know if military planes were flying over a mosque because of an Islamic celebration, Mahoney and Carlson would be saying something entirely different.

(Thanks to Sean for the link!)

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  • mike

    It’s too bad the Air Force caught on. A FSM event with a fly over would have been way cool. Pirates and fighter jets? yes please.

  • AnonyMouse

    “…our Constitution promises freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.”

    I hate that line SO MUCH. It’s like this guy just got in my face and said “Believe whatever you want, just make sure you believe in a god.” I can think of so many nasty things to call him, but I think I’ll leave off with this.

  • zoo

    it’s a reminder that our Constitution promises freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.

    No, it really doesn’t. Not promoting or abridging the practice of any particular religion is just that. Not promoting is what gives us freedom from religion if we so choose. Not abridging is what gives you freedom of religion if you so choose.

  • jasonorlandohawk

    At the risk of starting some serious arguments… I think that the law is messed up on this one. The Air Force can’t fly over an event b/c it is religious?

    That’s several levels of stupid.

    If it’s really that big a deal, change the law to something like this:

    If an event being sponsored by a special interest group, religious, ideological, or otherwise, requests for a flyover by the air force during the event, then that group has to pay for the fuel consumed, as well as any associated maintenance or repairs incurred by Air Force participation.

    Ah ha! Now taxpayer money isn’t being “wasted,” (as if participation in religious ceremony is the only source of wasted tax payer money… never mind) and any group of citizens is more than welcome to utilize that service of the US military.

    By comparison… how much taxpayer money is wasted on flyovers of baseball games, firework shows, and other random forms of entertainment?

    And Fox News commentary aside, I really don’t think it should matter what group requests a flyover. If an Atheist event requested a flyover, so what… they’re citizens. If a GLBT event requested a flyover, so what… they’re citizens. Denying government involvement in civilian events on the premise that religion (or any special interest) will be mentioned at some point in the process is rather foolish.

    Oh no! Special interest groups are also patriotic! Run! Democracy is being horribly violated!

    If a church wants to host a patriotic religious event… let them. Fox News may have blown this out of proportion (hey, it’s Fox, even I don’t have much patience for their broadcasts), but that doesn’t mean that the military should never be associated with religious people, or irreligious people. As it turns out, both groups can be quite patriotic, and might want to celebrate that, which is a GOOD thing. (I like the idea of large gatherings of individuals who are rallying patriotic sentiment among their friends and associates.)

    The types of events that would warrant a refusal of a flyover should be events like “Terrorists who want to bomb America to Dust,” and even then, I might accept a flyover… with weapons armed.

  • Wes

    In a dairy for the Daily Kos, Chris Rodda explains how, a couple years ago, he heard about how the American military was taking part in evangelical Christian events — a blatant violation of church/state separation.

    Chris Rodda is a she, not a he.

  • Chris Rodda is a she, not a he.

    I did not know this. Fixed above.


  • Thilina

    The military has a few options here.

    Request anyone wanting a flyover to completely pay for it and approve everyone is willing to pay for it.


    Approve all flyovers (including some random guys house because it’s Tuesday – its still a better military investment than half of what the USAF budget goes towards -)


    Not approve any flyovers for private / religious or special interest group events.

    Personally i think they made the right decision.

    And having a few planes fly over you at the cost of millions to the country so you can have a free show and feel good about yourself isn’t patriotism.

    And to jasonorlandohawk the “Terrorists who want to bomb America to Dust” are the people America are bombing to dust.

  • Philosos

    The people who talk about how the constitution promises freedom of religion , definitely lack the reasoning and understanding. They say that it promises freedom of religion and there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking that position. What they fail to realize is the other part of the equation and that is that the federal government is responsible for defense of the country and that the federal government is not to be seen to be passing favor to any one religious organization to promote the values of that religion. The use of federal defense equipment for and on behalf of ANY special interest group should rightfully be banned. To do so would be to implicitly agree that there IS a state religion and that is Christianity. These people do not realize that the nation’s constitution (which is a law) was founded as a secular one and not one based in any type of religious stem because of course secular processes are based on evolved ideas, reason and logic and RELIGION is not based on any of those. LAW conflicts with RELIGION because religion is faith-based which is inherently an illogical process, and does not accept logic as a means of problem resolution and of course does not readily accept ideas to evolve. This is why most religious people are social conservatives, they are afraid of change, any kind of change. Social conservatives are really ‘head in the sand’ people and of course this is why the majority of conservatives are religious because they are afraid to challenge and really really think and rather just accept what they are told to (thus believing that they are living a life that is within a supreme being’s hands and by extension a church representing such a being on this planet)

    Of course I think the problem in all this however goes back to what I said in the first line of this comment; the people that say and think these things lack understanding of logic and reason and this may sound elitist to them but to those that have evolved ideas of reasoning and logic it is simply a realization of what is true and factual. The lack of reasoning and logic is what makes people religious and possessing the capacity to reason and make logical probes is what makes you an agnostic (many levels) and believing that you have concluded and deduced an answer to the equation using reason and logic makes you an atheist.

    This is clearly why Sam Harris wrote his book… there’s a war on reason and we that are agnostics and atheists are outnumbered right now, but at least our numbers of troops are increasing and people are becoming less afraid to make their position known.

  • mikespeir

    Christians would so love to co-opt patriotism in this country.

  • “President Obama has nothing to do with this”

    You may be right, but I’m doubting it.

    The president is the Commander in Chief of all of our military forces, and as such, he need only mention his feelings on any topic and it, like many other substances, will roll down hill.

    Recall that in 1981 President Reagan said he didn’t like the phrase, “I’d be the First Sergeant if I had the stomach for it” (which was a popular comedic phrase). Then miraculously, all the unit commanders in the US Army started more vigorously enforcing the weight control and physical training (PT) standards, the regulations for the standards for grading PT tests tightened up, the required exercises changed, and the soldiers with “the stomach for for it” faded (or melted) away.

    If the president offhandedly mentioned that he didn’t want to use the military to support religious activities, it would not happen. In fact, if a presidential aid mentioned the president’s position on this to, say, the US Air Force Chief of Staff, the practice would stop as well.

    The US military is a reflection of the President’s policies. It always has been and Mr. Hope and Change cannot change that.

  • J. Allen


    It’s possible the election of Obama has given some courage that they can enforce the existing laws without getting rebuked and fired for doing so.

    That said, it’s still a fallacy to say it’s Obama’s doing. Obama is our doing.

  • billybee

    I live where all of this is happening. There are, of course, a lot of people that are highly pissed off. The surprising thing is that I’m reading and hearing so much support for the DoD’s decision to deny a fly over.

    The conservatives out number “us” by a big margin here, but this brouhaha is certain to bring many progressive minded Idahoans out of the shadows. You can’t stop truth…even in lil’ ol Idaho…

  • Alan E.

    “Last time I check ‘God’ was still on our money.” Commy-hunting-era policies do not justify a break in the walls of the separation of church and State.

  • Citizen Z

    You know if military planes were flying over a mosque because of an Islamic celebration, Mahoney and Carlson would be saying something entirely different.

    I’d guess “Bombs away!”

  • Heidi

    How badly would Gretchen freak out if the Air Force participated in a festival called Wiccans in the Military? Or Patriotic Bisexual Satanists? It’s not a problem to support religion unless it’s somebody else’s, right?

  • Thumpalumpacus

    The use of federal defense equipment for and on behalf of ANY special interest group should rightfully be banned.

    Absolutely. When I was in the USAF — don’t ask how long ago or I’ll hit you with my cane –we were forbidden to attend any special interest activities [except for the chapel on base] — in uniform, lest we give the impression that the AF or the gov’t endorsed the point.

  • L3D

    Rules should be the same for all.

    If patriotic churches would get flyovers for their events, then the militant atheists should also get flyovers.