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.
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.