Air Force Warns Commanders on Religious Proselytizing

Air Force Warns Commanders on Religious Proselytizing September 20, 2011

In a major victory for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, the Air Force’s highest ranking general has sent out a memo to all officers telling them that they cannot use their position to push their religious views on those under their command.

Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz sent a servicewide memo Sept. 1 cautioning leaders at all levels to balance the Constitution’s protection of religious freedom and the prohibition on government intrusion.

“We have seen instances where well-meaning commanders and senior noncommissioned officers appeared to advance a particular religious view among their subordinates, calling into question their impartiality and objectivity. We can learn from these instances,” said Lt. Col. Sam Highley, Schwartz’s spokesman.

More details:

In the memo, titled “Maintaining Government Neutrality Regarding Religion,” Schwartz wrote leaders must avoid even the appearance of using their position to proselytize.

“Commanders or supervisors who engage in such behavior may cause members to doubt their impartiality and objectivity,” Schwartz wrote. “The potential result is a degradation of the unit’s morale, good order and discipline.” …

Schwartz’s memo does not mention any specific incidents but stresses commanders must refrain from appearing to endorse religious programs such as those provided by the Chaplain Corps.

“I expect chaplains, not commanders, to notify Airmen of Chaplain Corps programs,” Schwartz wrote.

This is long overdue and very important.

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  • frankboyd

    Thank goodness for this. Long, long overdue.

  • Glad to hear someone high up on the chain o’ command gives a care, and gives a good reason for respecting religious freedom: Morale. If I were a soldier and my CO didn’t act impartially with regard to religion, I’d be questioning that CO’s loyalties.

    If the CO isn’t protecting the rights of his subordinates, what reason would they have to think he’s at all interested in protecting the rights of American civilians?

  • Taz

    Can’t wait for all the claims that Christians are being persecuted.

  • Tim DeLaney

    Give General Schwartz full credit for doing the right thing. On another issue, DADT expired today. It’s been a good day for the US military.

  • D. C. Sessions

    This is long overdue and very important.

    Not to mention a splendid bit of weasel-wordsmithing.

  • Artor

    I’m confident there will be some commanders who think he’s not talking about THEIR proselytizing. I’ll believe this is a positive move when I read about commanders being disciplined for their violations of their troop’s religious freedoms.

  • D. C. Sessions

    I’m confident there will be some commanders who think he’s not talking about THEIR proselytizing.

    That’s because they’re not. What they do isn’t proselytization; it’s exercising moral and spiritual leadership. They’re taking the interest in their subordinates’ welfare that God has entrusted them with. They are, in short, obeying their highest duty.

  • Michael Heath

    D.C. Sessions:

    Not to mention a splendid bit of weasel-wordsmithing.

    I read what was reported from this memo as:

    1) A few of you got caught proselytizing.

    2) There is no excuse.

    3) I don’t want to discipline anyone for proselytizing.

    4) I am writing this memo to you even though I wish I could avoid this topic altogether.

    5) I’ll be ignoring this command as best as I can, there will be no ramifications unless the shit really hits the fan, than I’ll use this memo to cover my own ass.

  • Michael Heath:

    You are becoming Sooooooooooooooooo cynical; congratulations!

    Wonder where our favorite FighterpilotandserialliarforJESUS is at the moment? Scrubbing his hard drive, maybe?

  • D. C. Sessions

    Scrubbing his hard drive, maybe?

    I’ve never heard it called that before.

  • It doesn’t go far enough, but it isn’t a bad start.

  • steve oberski

    “I expect chaplains, not commanders, to notify Airmen of Chaplain Corps programs,” Schwartz wrote.

    Improbable Joe says:

    It doesn’t go far enough, but it isn’t a bad start.

    And the Chaplain Corps would be a good place to continue.

  • Not that I miss him more than I would a pilonidal cyst but, Jeez, where the fuck is JD? I figgered he’d be here beating himself with a barbed wire knout while screaming about the persecution he’s now suffering.