Thursday, 15 September 2011

"Jesus Loves Nukes"

 Top Air Force Official Issues Religious Neutrality Policy in Wake of Truthout's "Jesus Loves Nukes" Exposé
  by  Jason Leopold

A top US Air Force official, in an attempt to ensure the Air Force adheres to the Constitution as well as its own regulations and policies, issued guidelines that calls on "leaders at all levels" to take immediate steps to maintain "government neutrality regarding religion."

In his policy memorandum dated September 1, but sent Tuesday to all major commands, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz said, "Leaders ... must balance Constitutional protections for an individual's free exercise of religion or other personal beliefs and its prohibition against governmental establishment of religion."
Air Force Joint Chief Gen. Norton A. Schwartz addresses National Guard delegates during the National Guard Association of the United States conference in Nashville, Tennessee, September 12.
The First Amendment establishes a wall of separation between church and state and Clause 3, Article 6 of the Constitution specifically prohibits a "religious test."
The Air Force immediately suspended the mandatory Nuclear Ethics and Nuclear Warfare training immediately following the publication of Truthout's report. David Smith, a spokesman for the Air Education and Training Command told Truthout last month the ethics training "has been taken out of the curriculum and is being reviewed."
"The commander reviewed it and decided we needed to have a good hard look at it and make sure it reflected views of modern society," Smith said.
The decision angered Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) who fired off an angry letter to Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley criticizing the move and demanding Donley provide him with a report detailing "actions taken" by the Air Force that led to the suspension of the ethics training.
But the Air Force went further, pulling all of its training materials "that address morals, ethics, core values and related character development issues" pending a "comprehensive review," Smith told the Air Force Times.
That decision was made after a Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) instructor, who read Truthout's report, sent the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), a civil rights organization, copies of ROTC leadership training materials, which also contained Christian-themed citations from the Bible. The PowerPoint slides in that presentation the unnamed instructor sent MRFF are used in all colleges and universities that have an ROTC program.
Schwartz said commanders and supervisors, "must avoid the actual or apparent use of their position to promote their personal religious beliefs to their subordinates or to extend preferential treatment for any religion."

"Commanders or supervisors who engage in such behavior may cause members to doubt their impartiality and objectify," Schwartz added. "The potential result is a degradation of the unit's morale, good order and discipline."
Furthermore, he advised Air Force leadership who may have concerns "involving the preservation of government neutrality regarding religious beliefs" to speak with a chaplain and staff judge advocate "before you act."
Systemic Issues
That Schwartz, a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was forced to issue such an edict underscores how widespread the problems have been within the Air Force related to commanders endorsing religion, particularly fundamentalist Christianity.
Indeed, some examples over the past few years include an email circulated in 2009 by military command and staff officers to all personnel stationed at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada inviting them to attend a Bible study class in which the topic of discussion referred to Jews as "whiners."

No comments:

Post a Comment