Email to Mikey Weinstein From MRFF Client/Senior Active Duty USAF Officer Re: AFGSC Unconstitutionally Promoting Religion for its "Year of the Family"
From: Senior Active Duty USAF Officer/MRFF Client
Subject: Air Force Global Strike Command Announces Year of the Family
Date: February 7, 2017 at 4:18:28 PM MST
To: Mikey Weinstein
I applaud AFGSC leadership's emphasis on the family and supporting their warriors that are defending and deterring every day, but what message are they sending in their announcement? Are they making it mandatory to PRAY? Their plan has five components (Live, Learn, Play, and Care are the other four) and this reads like a program in which ALL members of AFGSC are expected to participate--otherwise, why would they put it on main web page?
The fact is, not all airmen pray. Some airmen are agnostic or atheist. Some pray, but do so in different ways at different times than the mainstream. I personally do not pray. Prayer is not important to me and I've never seen it as an essential (or even minor) component of my reasonably successful 30+ years in the Air Force, not have I ever "used" prayer to accomplish a mission, motivate my subordinates, or build my own skills or resiliency. So, if I were in AFGSC does that make me only 80% good to go in the eyes of my supervisors and commanders? What if my boss says "Prayer's part of the plan--get with the plan because that's what Gen Rand clearly wants--he had it posted on the webpage!"
Once again, we're telling some of our airmen that they have to be religious to be good airmen--that religion is a NECESSARY condition for having a healthy happy family, for being a full-fledged member of the AFGSC team, and for supporting our subordinates. But, if our airmen reflect our society (and in large part they do), then there's a growing number who are at least non-practicing religiously if not outright atheists.
Gen Robin "Baba" Rand needs to leave prayer to the chaplains--during off-duty time for those that want to spend their off-duty time engaged in private, religious service. He can encourage his people to live, learn, play, and care--but when he uses official AFGSC resources to tell his airmen to PRAY, then he's violating AFI1-1 and the US Constitution that he and his thousands have sworn to defend.
A Senior Air Force Officer
Email to Mikey Weinstein From MRFF Client/USAF Civilian Re: AFGSC Unconstitutionally Promoting Religion for its "Year of the Family"
From: USAF Civillian/MRFF Client’s E-Mail Address Withheld
Date: Wed, Feb 8, 2017 at 5:03 PM
Subject: Ordered to Pray by AFGSC Commander
To: Mikey Weinstein
Air Force Global Strike Command Announces Year of the Family
I am (rank/grade level withheld) civilian that works for the Secretory of the Air Force at a base under the Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC). I periodically check the AFGSC to ensure that I am aware of any issues or programs that may affect my project. I opened the link titled "Air Force Global Strike Command Announces Year of the Family" and was shocked to find the following language: "Air Force Global Strike Command is dedicating 2017 to Airmen, their loved ones and the total force at large. We are calling this year "The Year of the Family," and will focus our efforts on areas that greatly affect our Strikers and their families. These areas include where our Airmen live, learn, play, pray and receive care" (emphasis added). The article goes on to state: "The Year of the Family will also see an increased emphasis on spiritual health. Command leadership recognizes a need for retreats for both married and single Airmen as well as the need for overall spiritual wellness. The command also plans to expand existing programs and foster a sense of community among its members, according to The Year of the Family plan". While AFGSC's focus on the needs of Airmen and their families is laudable I do not understand why the program contains an unconstitutional requirement to include prayer. Merriam Webster defines pray as "to address God or a god with adoration, confession, supplication, or thanksgiving". If one does not have a God or gods one does not pray.
The more legally acceptable language regarding "spiritual health", "a need for retreats for both married and single Airmen" and "the need for overall spiritual wellness" must also be read in the context of the section heading entitled "Pray". What type of retreats are being considered? Would they be religious? I cannot help but assume so.
Get Rand, the Commander of AFGSC, and I both swore an oath to "...support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same..." The Constitution includes the Establishment Clause which states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." In addition Section 2.12 "Balance of Free Exercise of Religion and Establishment Clause" of AFI 1-1, Air Force Culture, states: "Leaders at all levels must balance constitutional protections for their own free exercise of religion, including individual expressions of religious beliefs, and the constitutional prohibition against governmental establishment of religion. They must ensure their words and actions cannot reasonably be construed to be officially endorsing or disapproving of, or extending preferential treatment for any faith, belief, or absence of belief" (emphasis added). The language referenced above from AFGSC clearly violates both the Establishment Clause and AFI 1-1. Gen Rand is unambiguously directing the Airmen under his command to pray.
It is particularly disappointing to see AFGSC's failure to understand the potentially coercive nature of this language. I was raised in a community that was overwhelmingly Protestant. In the 1500 student public high school I attended there was one atheist, me, and four Jewish students. I was subjected to coercion and punishment by the school administrator for refusing to sing religious Christmas carols in choir. I was forced to sit in the principal's office during choir instead of the library or study hall despite that the fact that I was an honor roll student. The two Jewish students in my choir class were too intimidated to speak up after they saw what happened to me. I was also physically assaulted by a student when he found out I was not Christian. My school's sponsorship of a religious message sent the message to members of the student body who were not members of the "majority” faith” that they were outsiders, not full members of the school community, and an accompanying message to members of the "majority" faith that they were favored insiders.
The inclusion of "pray" as a tenant of the 2017 Year of the Family plan would subject some Airmen and their families to a more serious level of the coercion than I was subject to in school. I am particularly concerned about members of our active duty military who must follow the commands of their superiors. It is a superior's duty and obligation to ensure their actions are constitutional.
I wish I felt secure enough in my position to bring this to Gen Rand's attention myself. I am concerned that particularly in the current political environment that doing so would likely subject me to retribution and retaliation.
(USAF Civilian/MRFF Client’s name, rank/grade level, assigned USAF unit and installation all withheld)
Email Response to MRFF's Third Party IG Complaint From 2d Bomb Wing Inspector General's Office Re: AFGSC Unconstitutionally Promoting Religion for its "Year of the Family"
From: "xxxx, xxxx GS-x USAF AFGSC 2 BW/IGQ"
Subject: Notification of Transfer
Date: February 14, 2017 at 8:21:24 AM MST
To: Mikey Weinstein
MEMORANDUM FOR MIKEY WEINSTEIN
FROM: 2 BW/IGQ
SUBJECT: Notification of Transfer
1. On or about 13 Feb 2017, you e-mailed your Third Party complaint to this office that expressed concerns regarding an AFGSC website article. As your concerns do not fall under the purview of my office, your case was transferred to SAF/IGQ on 14 Feb 2017.
2. If you require any additional information regarding this issue, please contact this office at xxx-xxx-xxxx.
xxxx xxxx, Civilian, DAF
Director, Complaints Resolution
2d Bomb Wing Inspector General's Office