Sep 29 2011

Thanks General

A win for foxhole atheists and every other military member not a Christian, General Schwartz dropped one hell of a memo. Now let’s get the Navy/Marine, Coast Guard, and Army leadership on board.


1670 Air Force Pentagon
Washington, DC 20330-1670

SUBJECT: Maintaining Government Neutrality Regarding Religion

Leaders at all levels must balance Constitutional protections for an individual’s free exercise of religion or other personal beliefs and its prohibition against governmental establishment of religion. For example, they 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 objectivity. The potential result is a degradation of the unit’s morale, good order, and discipline.

Chaplain Corps programs, including activities such as religious studies, faith sharing, and prayer meetings, are vital to commanders’ support of individual Airmen’s needs and provide opportunities for the free exercise of religion. Although commanders are responsible for these programs they must refrain from appearing to officially endorse religion generally or any particular religion. Therefore, I expect chaplains, not commanders, to notify Airmen of Chaplain Corps programs.

Our chaplains are trained to provide advice to leadership on matters related to the free exercise of religion and to help commanders care for all of their people, regardless of their beliefs. If you have concerns involving the preservation of government neutrality regarding religious beliefs, consult with your chaplain and staff judge advocate before you act.

General, USAF
Chief of Staff

(source: MRFF)


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  1. 1

    Ha! Good luck with the Marine Corps ever following along that path. After 23 years in the suck, I can tell you it is probably the most rigidly religious of the Branches. While not all of them are quite as bad as Lt. Jonathan Kendrick (A Few Good Men), most of the O’s I knew are explicitly religious. Of course, it could have changed in the past 7 years since I retired, but if anything, I’d suspect it has gotten worse.

    1. 1.1
      John Morales

      Huh. I’m neither American nor in the armed forces, but I’ve heard pretty bad stuff about your Air Force and religion.

      (Marines, not nearly so much)


      1. davidct

        You heard about the problems in the Air Force because people complained. You would not find many Marines willing to do that. It is very much against their culture.

        1. Dave


        2. John Morales

          OK, I hear that.


  2. 2
    Jennifer Allen

    The memo from General Schwartz is a big improvement over previous defacto policy, but it doesn’t seem worthy of the extravagent praise it’s been getting on FTP. Hey, telling commanders to consult chaplains for advice on freedom of religion is like telling the head chicken to consult with wolves to ensure the coop is secure.

    1. 2.1
      Assassin Actual

      It will reduce the habit of commanders making religious events manditory, since chaplains can’t normally order Soldiers around.

  3. 3

    Have you seen this post from one of your cohorts?

    1. 3.1

      Link fail…I don’t think you put the HREF in.

      1. Rob

        Nuts, I thought I did. It also didn’t post immediately, possibly delayed by the spam filter.

        Here’s the link raw:


        1. Assassin Actual

          Sigh… Yep but in this profession you have to focus on the wins and not the huge bucket of fail.

          I got accepted to the Zoomie School but stories like these and the general feeling of how uptight the school was make me decline.

  4. 4

    Chaplain = ration eating pogue, possibly insane. They should eliminate the Corps and make it voluntary collateral duty.

    1. 4.1


      1. Assassin Actual


  5. 5

    Still, it’s a step in the right direction. But I do have to wonder that it didn’t get passed down to Air Force Cadets until MRFF posted a billboard in Colorado Springs with the message.

    1. 5.1

      Frankly, I was surprised it just took a billboard to get the Academy brass to do their jobs. I was fully expecting a full-on lawsuit, with all of its attendant teeth-gnashing, hand-wringing, and general moaning about “Christian persecution”.

      1. Assassin Actual

        One sustain about the military is that while some commanders can selectivly ignore orders, once you wave it in their face it is only a matter of time before they act right. If the person issuing that order can end their career they will act right out of fear of getting shitcanned.

        I need to get a billbord back at my home base with the memo stating everyone should be off work by 1700

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