Air Force Revises Religious Expression Policy

Nov 18th, 2014 | By | Category: News Posts

 

The Air Force has a new policy on religious expression.

The Air Force has a new policy on religious expression.

Reprinted From The Congressional Prayer Caucus

The Air Force has released a revised version of the religious expression language in Air Force Instruction 1-1.  The press release is here and the revised instruction is here.  These changes are the result of a Religious Freedom Focus Day convened by Air Force Chief of Staff, General Mark Welsh. 

Members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus have actively advocated for this change in Air Force regulations.  By placing a disproportionate emphasis on religious neutrality, the old language was inconsistent with the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment and with the conscience protections for servicemembers and chaplains that were passed by Congress in the National Defense Authorization Act.  

The new language is significantly improved, and now references well-established standards for religious freedom found in the First Amendment and in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  In response to the new language, Reps. Lamborn and Forbes issued the following statement:

The Air Force’s new policy more clearly reflects the priority of religious freedom in our Constitution and in the conscience protections for servicemembers and chaplains that Congress passed in the National Defense Authorization Act. Whereas the old language was misleading and confusing for Commanders to apply, these revisions point to well-established standards for protecting religious expression. We are grateful to General Welsh and Chaplain Stendahl for their leadership in revising this policy, and hope that this new language will better aid commanders in maintaining the high standard that our Nation has always had for protecting freedom of religion for our men and women in uniform.”

Members of the Prayer Caucus were instrumental in passing conscience protections in the NDAA, and they will continue to engage with military leadership as this new policy is implemented to ensure that no servicemember is forced to forfeit the very fundamental freedoms that he or she sacrifices so much to defend.

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