GOP Lawmakers to Air Force: Respect Religious Freedom

Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.), Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), and Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) urged Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to investigate what they call a “pattern of hostility towards faith” in the Air Force. A total of 66 GOP House members signed their June 19 letter to Panetta, which called on the Secretary to “issue clear guidance” that will “assure Active Duty service members and those considering future service that they need not leave their faith at home when they volunteer to serve.” The missive cites several examples where the lawmakers claim the Air Force went too far in censoring religious expression, including removing Bibles from Air Force Inn checklists and suspending an ethics briefing for nuclear missile officers because it included Bible references. “Censorship is not required for compliance with the Constitution, and should not be required for compliance with military directives,” states the letter. In a June 21 release discussing the letter, Black called the Air Force’s actions “unprecedented and without merit.” Forbes said they represent “an alarming pattern” not seen in the other services.