Earlier this year, United States Air Force Academy Brigadier General Andy Armacost (below) addressed the entire faculty and told them in no uncertain terms that they could not proselytize while on duty.
It’s a rule that made perfect sense. Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation explained that the regulation was “an umbrella in a tsunami of Christian fundamentalist extremism.” Just imagine you’re in the Air Force and your commanding officer began to preach the Gospel. Much like if s/he were a Christian football coach, your unofficial options would be to play along and just nod your head or disagree and prepare to be reprimanded.
Why would anyone want to rescind that rule and allow officers to proselytize to their inferiors?
Because Religious Freedom, say the people who have no idea what it’s like to be in the religious minority:
[Gen. Mark Welsh III’s] irritation underscored the pressure the Air Force is under from Republicans in Congress, evangelical Christians and conservative advocacy groups to end what they allege is the service’s suppression of religious freedom…
“We don’t advocate that someone in a position of authority use that authority to somehow force someone to participate in a religious activity,” Perkins said. “On the flip side of that is just because someone in a command position (has) a devotional or weekly Bible study and you invite your colleagues, there is nothing wrong with that as long as you are not requiring (attendance). It’s like asking someone to come play dominoes.”
Yeah… if dominoes ended with the threat of hellfire for not playing.
No one’s saying these officers can’t ever talk about their faith. They just can’t do it while on duty and in a position of authority. It’s no different from teachers in the classroom.
But that’s not what these Christians want. They want the ability to preach anywhere and everywhere, even when they’re in a position of authority and working for the government. This conversation wouldn’t be happening if Muslims or Hindus or atheists were the ones in power, but leave it to the Christian Right to complain because their beliefs aren’t being put on a pedestal.
(Thanks to Brian for the link)