October 23, 2017

Air Force: Religious Freedom Not Protected for Christians

Cadet-with-BibleTPNN reported the story of an Air Force cadet whose religious freedom was threatened at the Air Force Academy. On the whiteboard outside his door, he wrote the bible verse from Galatians 2:20. The whiteboard message was reportedly erased just under 2 hours after complaints were lodged against the cadet with claims that his message was creating a hostile environment at the academy.

According to Breitbart News, an attorney and directory of military affairs with the Liberty Institute, Mike Berry visited the academy and spoke with cadets and the commanding officer.

We met with Col. Paul Barzler, the Air Force Academy Staff Judge Advocate, to find out what really happened and to ask about the Academy’s policy on religious exercise. It turns out that, contrary to Mikey Weinstein’s claims, the cadet may have voluntarily removed the Bible verse from his white board. But I was stunned to find out that, had the cadet not removed the verse, Academy officials would have ordered him to do so. I asked why, and Col. Barzler explained that, because the cadet held a leadership position, it could create the perception that he was forcing his religious beliefs on subordinates. I pointed out that under the Constitution, federal law, and military regulations, cadets have the right to religious exercise. I was shocked when he responded that Air Force policy, from the Pentagon, is that the term “religious exercise” does not include written or verbal speech. [emphasis added]

Berry then reminded the colonel regarding the specific legal protections service members have, from the Constitution itself, to Acts of Congress, to military regulations. He says of the colonel’s response:

He went on to state that the Air Force interprets [Department of Defense] Instruction 1300.07 to only apply to religious grooming and apparel matters, but not writing a [Bible] verse on a white board or even verbally sharing a verse. This means that, under Air Force policy, cadets and airmen are not free to express their religious beliefs through words or writing. This policy appears to come from a March 2013 Air Force JAG memo that interpreted federal law in that way.

Read more, including the statement from the Air Force Academy regarding this incident, at Breitbart News.

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