Image © Austin Cline
The U.S. Air Force has a long and sordid history of advancing, promoting, and encouraging Christianity -- not just Christianity in general, but conservative, evangelical Christianity in particular. Now that the Air Force is trying to be more neutral on religious matters, conservative Christians are whining.
Most recently, 66 conservative Christians in the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to the Air Force complaining that the policies of religious neutrality are really a transition to being "hostile towards religion." Of course, by "religion" they only have in mind their own brand of Christianity and by "hostile" they mean "not privileging my religion."
Here are some of the incidents the conservative Christian lawmakers complained about:
A decision to remove a Latin reference to "God" from a logo/motto for the Rapid Capabilities Office
A decision to stop requiring staff to check for Bibles in Air Force Inn rooms
The removal of a document from a distance-learning course for Squadron Officer School that suggested chapel attendance is a sign of strong leadership
The suspension of an ethics course because the material included Bible passages
Source: Fox News
To its credit, Fox News chose not to promote the Christians' misrepresentations of events and instead showed how, in reality, the Air Force has been acting to stop illegal, inappropriate promotions of evangelical Christianity:
In the case of the Rapid Capabilities Office, the reference to God was removed following a complaint from an atheist group. The original logo, according to Fox News Radio, said in Latin: "Doing God's Work with Other People's Money." It was changed to say, "Doing Miracles with Other People's Money." ...
In the case of the Squadron Officer School course, the training document in question contained the following paragraph: "If you attend chapel regularly, both officers and Airmen are likely to follow this example. If you are morally lax in your personal life, a general moral indifference within the command can be expected."
The Air Force made it clear in their reply to the Republicans that everyone in the Air Force is "free to exercise their constitutional right to practice their religion -- in a manner that is respectful of other individuals' rights to follow their own belief systems." This is exactly the extent to which the Air Force should protect religious liberty.
The Air Force does not, however, have any obligation to advance anyone's religious beliefs or religious ideology -- like for example telling people that attending chapel regularly is equivalent to being morally upright, promoting the idea of doing "God's Work," or ensuring that people have Bibles in hotels.
These conservative Christians in the American government have no respect for or understanding of the separation of church and state. This is why they are a danger to Americans' religious liberty -- although they frequently use the rhetoric of liberty, they only really care about the "liberty" to abuse government power to promote their own religious ideology.