Here we go again. At least the AF is facing the issue, even though the response so far is reprehensibly lame!
Enlisted members "swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me."
However, commissionsd officers "solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foriegn and domestic." That's essentially it. They are not bound by oath to follow misguided, ignorant individuals - no matter how senior (although they risk ending up in deep kimchee!).
So, there appears to be an ongoing dilemma here. What is the conscionable, honorable, and duty-bound path to take?
And, what would be the action taken against an attendee who walks out during such an unconstitutional briefing or formation? What if someone vocally objects during the evengelism? Punishment? Ostracism? I dunno', but probably some really deep kimchee!
Of course, the UCMJ could apply for such civil disobedience and demand for First Amendment rights.
I'd love to see a JAG's opinion or guidance for a commander on this issue, certainly before I acted...
Apparently, and appropriately, some folks did complain later, but who has faith that we (the USAF, with its minority but entrenched Christian factions) will act other than with political expedience?
If a racial or gender slur were involved, the general in question would already be retired in Sun City! Absent (1) clear punishment for this attempted religious indoctrination and (2) DoD-wide prohibition of future incidents, there remains a serious failure in leadership within the DoD, and the SecDef must intervene.
GIVE 'EM HELL, MIKEY!
Edited by Kenton on Mar 24, 2012 1:44 PM
Kenton, actually the article is pretty good if you read the whole thing, this type of thinking is because of the big stink that came up in 2005. About time.
The tide is slowly turning, and for the better. It's just not going to happen immediately, and the majority of Christians who (also are the majority) have been in control for so long are SCREAMING about their loss of control and the persecution complex they have about it. They are not being persecuted at all, just pushed back into the box they should not have been allowed to stray out of in the first place. You can read into it all throughout the article. And now enough senior people who are not religious, have gotten high up enough that their jobs are not threatened, as they have been for so long, and they can speak out. Most people now recognize how the religious talk can actually threaten unit cohesion, and the military is about getting the job done first, not what someone believes in. While in the military we give up some of our own freedoms to protect our country, we're supposed to protect all religious freedom, including freedom from religion, not just one particular type that is in the majority.
But here is the real story, any of this talk would have been verboten in the 80's through 00's, never would have made it this far into the mainstream like an Air Force Times article. You weren't allowed to even identify as an Atheist back then, I always had to put "No Pref" on my dogtags. I still remember G W Bush's horrible comments about atheism when he was VP running for President. He never was really called on it. I still blame the McCarthyism witch hunts for 'godless communists' that allowed the Christians to develop their stranglehold within the Military, or the Prohibition push from the Temperance (religious) movement for our modern 'Drug War', it's slowly easing as people are more accepting of the diversity of others, but not soon enough. And as I said, the religious are screaming about it, witness our current political debate.
As for the Oaths, the extra part of the enlisted oaths are there because of the military structure, and they were written when most enlisted were not as educated "or thinking men," so the Officers were expected to make decisions about who was an enemy, and the enlisted were supposed to follow orders. Now, many enlisted can have several degrees or even more than the officers appointed over them. But the Officers still shoulder the ultimate responsibility of top command positions, as the old adage, "The captain goes down with the ship." So even the Commanding Officer is responsible for the actions or inaction of all of the crew. Yet all the officers underneath him or her still have to follow his directions. If they don't, they are kicked out. I don't see an issue with it, except maybe eventually they will drop the second part.
Just my 2 Cents on the subject, I had to bite my tongue for a long time in the military, and only during the last few years as the climate has gotten better and when I was senior myself was I able to speak out. Sometimes that was also to protect the rights of religious people to practice their faith, as long as it wasn't infringing on the rights of others. But I had to tell plenty of the religious folks that while they had a right to their faith, not to expect everyone else to share it, or require everyone to follow their beliefs. I shocked a few, but they couldn't do anything about it and had senior religious officers back me up (at least publicly) as an Atheist.
The tides are changing.