Original Article - Air Force Rejects Faith–Plane and Simple
In the U.S. Air Force, the one thing leaders are throttling back is faith. When President Obama took office, his policies had a chilling effect on religion across the military–but no branch has taken Christian censorship to extremes like the Air Force. To most people, the turning point came last year after a service-wide memo from Gen. Norman Schwartz. It was a stern warning that religious favoritism and proselytizing would not be tolerated in the Force. Instead, Gen. Schwartz urged “neutrality”–which has since turned to hostility–on faith.
Assaults on religion have come in almost daily waves since then, and service members are still struggling to cope with the changes. One by one, officers started flushing God out of their everyday routines–an overcorrection that has left several airmen confused about their rights. First, the Air Force suspended a 20-year-old class on “Just War Theory” because it included scriptural references. Next came the stripping of “God” from the Rapid Capabilities motto and the purging of Bibles from Air Force Inn checklists. At Christmas, the Academy ordered cadets to stop promoting a Christian charity for needy kids. Leaders even removed an article from a Squadron Office School curriculum for referencing chapel. FRC started to notice a change in 2010–before Schwartz’s memo–when Andrews Air Force Base rescinded my invitation to speak at a prayer breakfast.
“When viewed individually,” Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) said, “any of these actions is concerning. But taken together, they highlight an alarming pattern in the Air Force that we do not see in other branches of the military.” The tension is so significant that the Air Force Times published a long expose about the new climate of political correctness and how it’s affecting morale. Several servicemen emailed the paper anonymously, many concerned that believers are being forced into the closet. “Christian airmen say they’re constantly walking on eggshells at work to avoid offending their non-believing colleagues.” Another said, “I don’t think the Air Force pushes religion on anyone. The only thing I have seen is the push to take any reference to Christianity out.”
So far, Gen. Schwartz’s strategy seems to be having the desired effect. In a Military Times poll, Air Force members were less likely than those in any other branch to say that “religion plays a larger role in their lives today than it did when they joined the service.” In other words, the Air Force is systematically driving a wedge between the troops and their greatest source of solace and strength. What a tragedy. Our military was designed to protect religious liberty–not impair it. As Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) said, “When our sons and daughters join the military, they are not signing away their First Amendment right to religious liberty.” He and 65 other House members are so outraged by the Air Force’s pattern of religious hostility that they’re calling on Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to conduct a full investigation. “Censorship,” they write, “is not required for compliance with the Constitution and should not be required for compliance with military directives.” We applaud the dozens of Congressmen who signed on to this letter to support the troops when they need it most.
Praise God from Womb All Blessings Flow
For toddler Leyna Gonzalez, every day is a gift. “She’s perfectly normal, thank God,” her mom Tammy says. Almost two years ago, that seemed like an impossibility. Doctors had discovered a tumor the size of a tennis ball on her tiny unborn baby’s mouth. Left untreated, the tumor could have taken Leyna’s life–or, at the very least, made her birth and early months very traumatic. Barely four months along, Tammy turned to surgeon Ruben Quintero for help. Together, they decided to take proactive measures and operate on the baby in the womb–who, at just 17 weeks gestation, was only about four and half inches long. It was the world’s first-ever surgery of its kind. “This was an opportunity to expand the field we have developed,” Dr. Quintero said, “to treat birth defects in utero.” The procedure was a miraculous attempt to rescue this little life–and, to the relief of the Gonzalezes, it was completely successful.
Twenty months after her birth, all that’s left of Leyna’s tumor is a little scar on her mouth. Her heartwarming story is the subject of a new article in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Let me repeat, Leyna was only 17 weeks along–too young for the abortion lobby to even acknowledge her humanity–and yet doctors raced to save her. Would they have gone to all that trouble for a blob of tissue? Of course not. This was a living, breathing, heart-beating life. We praise God that Leyna is a healthy, happy toddler–and a living testament to the extraordinary dignity and personhood of the unborn.
** After yesterday’s ruling on “fleeting expletives,” USA Today contacted FRC for our reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision. You can read my analysis of the case here in a special Point-Counterpoint column in today’s edition.
*** Don’t miss this week’s edition of Washington Watch Weekly with Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who stops by to talk about the upcoming Supreme Court decision on ObamaCare. David Brody, CBN News correspondent, will also join us to discuss his new book, The Teavangelicals. For more information or to find a radio station near you, visit FRCRadio.org.