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Aug 24 2012

Air Force Issues New Regs on Religion

The Air Force has issued a new directive that includes some important language on the issues of religious freedom and religious impositions on others in that branch of the armed services. Howard Friedman quotes some of the relevant portions:

1.7.4.1. Chaplain. The Chaplain Corps provides spiritual care and the opportunity for Air Force members and their families to exercise their constitutional right to the free exercise of religion. This is accomplished through religious observances, pastoral care, and confidential counseling, and advising leadership on spiritual, ethical, moral, morale, core values, and religious accommodation issues….

1.7.4.4. Equal Opportunity (EO). The purpose of the EO program is to enhance unit cohesion, mission readiness, and mission accomplishment by ensuring equal treatment and employment opportunity for all members. The Air Force has a zero-tolerance policy towards unlawful discrimination of any kind, including sexual harassment…. Air Force members must not unlawfully discriminate against, harass, intimidate, or threaten another person on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, disability, reprisal, or genetic information…..

2.11. 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 the constitutional 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. Airmen, especially commanders and supervisors, must ensure that in exercising their right of religious free expression, they do not degrade morale, good order, and discipline in the Air Force or degrade the trust and confidence that the public has in the United States Air Force.

2.12. Free Exercise of Religion and Religious Accommodation. Supporting the right of free exercise of religion relates directly to the Air Force core values and the ability to maintain an effective team.

2.12.1. All Airmen are able to choose to practice their particular religion, or subscribe to no religious belief at all. You should confidently practice your own beliefs while respecting others whose viewpoints differ from your own.

2.12.2. Your right to practice your religious beliefs does not excuse you from complying with directives, instructions, and lawful orders; however, you may request religious accommodation. Requests can be denied based on military necessity. Commanders and supervisors at all levels are expected to ensure that requests for religious accommodation are dealt with fairly.

That all sounds good, of course, but we’ll have to wait and see if it’s actually implemented in a fair and reasonable manner. The Air Force doesn’t exactly have a good track record here.

21 comments

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  1. 1
    Michael Heath

    Ed writes:

    That all sounds good, of course, but we’ll have to wait and see if it’s actually implemented in a fair and reasonable manner. The Air Force doesn’t exactly have a good track record here.

    True enough; I particularly like the fact Section 2.11 notes the harm that’s done when the government, in this case Air Force personnel with authority over others, exploit their power in a way that unconstitutionally infringes on the individual rights of others. I.e., it concedes the violation of this directive is bad policy when it comes to the mission of the Air Force. So the Constitutional mandate is also optimal policy; that’s not necessarily always true. So not only does the infringement of these directives have one breaking their oath to defend the Constitution, it also points to fact it harms the objective of the Air Force.

    Isn’t the coward, liar, and traitor JD in the Air Force? If so, these directives are one more set of edicts for him to break and to advocate others break.

  2. 2
    Abby Normal

    How does this differ from the old policies? Most of it looks pretty familiar.

  3. 3
    slc1

    Re Michael Heath @ #1

    JD, who is, in fact a major in the air force, should be given the heave ho, like his hero Gordon Klingenschmuck if he is found in violation of the new regulations.

  4. 4
    Gregory in Seattle

    Air Force members must not unlawfully discriminate against, harass, intimidate, or threaten another person on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, disability, reprisal, or genetic information…

    So one may lawfully discriminate against, harass, intimidate or threaten another person on the basis of race, color or religion? And how did sexual orientation not make it on that list? Was DADT reinstated while I wasn’t looking?

    At first glance, these are the same rules that have been in place for a very long time. The huge problem has not been having rules, but getting the chain of command to actually follow them. And I don’t see anything on there about the reocurring problem of “You can go to a three hour fundamentalist Christian preachathon, or you can spend three hours scrubbing toilets. You have a constitutional right to make a Hobson’s choice.”

  5. 5
    hexidecima

    it’s a pity that this had to be fought for when it’s so damn obvious. Of course, we’ll have to wait and see, but at least it’s some movement.

  6. 6
    Gvlgeologist, FCD

    Gregory in Seattle had exactly the same thoughts that I did. Saying “unlawful discrimination” implies that there is a permissible lawful discrimination, and the fact that sexual preference didn’t make it into the list really jumps out by its absence.

    The other thing I noticed is, “Air Force members must not unlawfully discriminate against, harass, intimidate, or threaten another person on the basis of … reprisal, or genetic information…”. What the hell does that even mean? Are people discriminated against because they retaliated against someone for something and now that can’t be done? And is the military now testing people for genetic information?

  7. 7
    Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

    @Gvlgeologist, FCD @6:

    genetic information

    I don’t talk to ATGCCATGACCGATC like you.

  8. 8
    savagemutt

    And how did sexual orientation not make it on that list? Was DADT reinstated while I wasn’t looking?

    According to an HR class I took last month at work, sexual orientation is not a protected class for discrimination purposes under federal law.

  9. 9
    tubi

    Air Force members must not unlawfully discriminate against, harass, intimidate, or etc, etc…

    I read that as, “Air Force members must not discriminate against, harass…because it would be unlawful to do so.

    Not that there is such a thing a “lawful” discrimination.

  10. 10
    Budbear

    I can imagine that in that one of the definitions of the word “discriminate”, that is, to recognize a distinction, it might be lawful. e.g. Jewish services will be held on Saturday, Muslim on Friday, Catholic on Sunday at 10 AM, Protestant at 11 AM etc.
    IANAL so I’m not sure if there is a legal usage that differs from common usage of the word.

  11. 11
    Bronze Dog

    And how did sexual orientation not make it on that list? Was DADT reinstated while I wasn’t looking?

    I read that bit, looking specifically for sexual orientation. Kind of killed my chance at being terribly optimistic about it. I’m left to wonder how many bigots are going to read it and gleefully smile when they notice the omission.

  12. 12
    bobaho

    The military is a command society, people are ordered to do things. There is a difference between a lawful order (charge that machine gun) and an unlawful order (shoot that prisoner). That is why you see lawful and unlawful. There may be a case of lawful discrimination, such as orders to perform certain duties; handling food products, allowing time off for religious services, and so forth. As to the choice between attending services and KP or other duties, understand that when such cases exist, the services are attended by the same yahoos you wish to avoid, while KP is just something you would have to do anyway and now will be performed without the yahoos. It was much better to have Sunday morning KP.
    The real discrimination (or was in my day) was between smokers and nonsmokers. Smokers got to walk around and talk quietly among themselves, nonsmokers were ordered to stand at parade rest during the duration of the smoke break.

  13. 13
    Trebuchet

    @#8:

    According to an HR class I took last month at work, sexual orientation is not a protected class for discrimination purposes under federal law.

    I think that’s enshrined in DOMA.

    @#3:

    JD, who is, in fact a major in the air force, should be given the heave ho, like his hero Gordon Klingenschmuck if when he is found in violation of the new regulations.

    Fixed that for you. It’s inevitable. The violation, that is, not the booting.

  14. 14
    Michael Heath

    tubi writes:

    Not that there is such a thing a “lawful” discrimination.

    Of course there is, people wrongly conclude the term ‘discriminate’ always describes unethical behavior. It does not. We lawfully discriminate all the time; for example, when a manager is deciding which employee is best suited for a promotion he or she has an obligation to the business’ owners to generally consider factors such as: intelligence, judgment, attendance, performance in current job, perceived suitability of experience and skills for the new job, aptitude for the new job, etc.

  15. 15
    euric

    I’m in the AF, and Airmen actually get training on lawful discrimination in our version of sergeant’s school. Some examples given for it were for age (minimum and maximum age limits for enlistment), disability (an Airman who is missing a leg may be discharged based on it, few if any other orgs have such latitude), and gender (restrictions on combat duty, which brought up a discussion of legal actions not always lining up with ethical ones).

  16. 16
    JD

    Ed said:

    wait and see if it’s actually implemented in a fair and reasonable manner…

    As others have pointed out, the “new” AFI is largely a collection of quotes from other regs. It is unique in its specificity on some subjects, but none in which such policies are not already being “implemented.”

    You denigration of the Air Force (“doesn’t have a good track record”) is without basis. That’s probably why you provided no evidence to support your accusation.

  17. 17
    John Phillips, FCD

    JD, the fact that a bigoted maroon like yourself hasn’t been kicked out yet, is itself not a point in favour of your Air Force and on its own lends support to Ed’s contention. And that is ignoring the crap that your Air Force has been guilty of in the past, some of which has been brought up here in the past. So, surprise, surprise, JD still lying for jeebus.

  18. 18
    dingojack

    Zinc Avenger (#7) – Not being allowed to discriminate on the grounds of ‘genetic information’ means no calling others a ‘homeobox‘. ;)
    euric (#15) – Great to see the USAF might chuck out Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader.
    JD – Nope, plenty of examples have been shown both on the old site and here (use the search function to find them). You have on each occasion tried to argue they don’t exist, are trivial or ‘no true scotsman’ – without success.
    Have you informed your commanding officer about your Early Onset Alzheimer’s yet (or did you forget)?

    Dingo

  19. 19
    slc1

    Re euric @ #15

    I’m in the AF, and Airmen actually get training on lawful discrimination in our version of sergeant’s school. Some examples given for it were for age (minimum and maximum age limits for enlistment), disability (an Airman who is missing a leg may be discharged based on it, few if any other orgs have such latitude), and gender (restrictions on combat duty, which brought up a discussion of legal actions not always lining up with ethical ones)

    I find it interesting that there are combat restrictions on women in the Air Force. During WW2, the Soviet Air Force had a number of female squadrons which flew the fighter planes of the era quite successfully.

    My own experience was limited to sitting in the cockpit of an F102 at McCord Air Force Base (since shuttered) in the Seattle-Tacoma area while on a weekend excursion with the Air Force ROTC. At the time, I was 5’8″ tall, weight 140lbs, not exactly gigantic proportions, and found the cockpit extremely cramped. I can only imagine a 6 footer trying to fly that aircraft. Actually, female pilots would have been more suited to the task, being, on the average smaller then males.

  20. 20
    euric

    @ slc1 #19
    I don’t know all of the restrictions as I am a keyboard warrior, but there are female pilots (I think some combat sorties have been flown) as well as ground-based jobs and positions that are male-only. We had a long discussion about it, as some of the class was pro and some con. In the end it came down to what the law and AFI’s allow being lawful, but that lawful did NOT always mean rational or ethical.
    It brings up another form of lawful discrimination in the AF- height. I have known two people who were DQ from being flyers because at 6’4″, they were too tall.

    @ the AF track record
    Commanders walking around carrying bibles to put on desks, gospel and hymns on the building-wide intercom 24/7, supervisors telling Airmen to read the New Testament, requisite marriage classes concerning ‘prayerful submission’, free work time off for church… that is just part of the track record I have seen.
    However, I have also seen: supervisors giving equivalent family time to all, allowing atheist ‘chapel guides’, the very Catholic LT who left the ‘so help me god’ off my re-enlistment, the homophobic watch officer that darn near whupped an NCO for calling a gay Airman ‘fag’, the Mormon commander who insisted that we keep the beer fridge.
    The AF has problems. It also has solutions. It would be great if the problems would GTFO

  21. 21
    democommie

    “The AF has problems. It also has solutions. It would be great if the problems would GTFO”

    Sorry, airman (I made E-5, back before they knew what I was REALLY like!), Maj. JD, LFFJ-LM* and GOD’s own jet jock isn’t going anywhere before retirement or martyrdom, whichever comes first.

    JD:

    Has anyone ever told you what a traitorous, dishonest piece of shit you are. Gosh, they have? Wow, it’s good to know that something’s going right in this world. Hey, when are you gonna send me that contact info for your boss (not GOD, the one who writes your annual evaluation, moron)?

    * Lying Fuckbags For Jesus–Life Member

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