The letter, which was spearheaded by Republican representatives Randy Forbes of Virginia, Todd Akin of Missouri and Diane Black of Tennessee, was signed by 63 other members of Congress.
“When our sons and daughters join the military, they are not signing away their First Amendment right to religious liberty. Unfortunately, it seems that some parts of the military are intent on prohibiting religious expressions rather than protecting it,” it stated.
Congress also gave examples of some of the ways that God has been removed from the Air Force. The letter explained that the military branch had suspended an ethics course simply because it made references to Scripture and that it has now prohibited commanders from advising airmen about chaplain corps programs.
Additionally, the Air Force removed a Latin reference to God from a logo in the Rapid Capabilities Office after an atheist lodged a complaint. The phrase had read “Doing God’s Work with Other People’s Money,” but was changed to “Doing Miracles with Other People’s Money.”
A section was also deleted from a squadron officer training document, which advised, “If you attend chapel regularly, both officers and Airmen are likely to follow this example. If you are morally lax in your personal life, a general moral indifference within the command can be expected.” Critics stated that the sentences inferred that if one does not attend church, then they will not be perceived by their peers as being a moral person.
“The changes lend credence to the notion that the Air Force will remove any reference to God or faith that an outside organization brings to its attention,” Congress wrote.
The letter, which was addressed to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, requested a thorough investigation into these matters, as well as the issuance of a clearly-worded memo that would put an end to the military’s creation of a “culture that is hostile toward religion.”
Earlier this month, Panetta recorded a video statement praising Congress for eradicating “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which prohibited open homosexuality in the military. Panetta is also reported to have been responsible for planning a “Gay Pride Month” event at the Pentagon this past weekend, which was the first in the history of the American military. Homosexuality had been strictly proscribed since our nation’s founding.
An Air Force spokesperson told The Hill in response to the letter that members of the military are “free to exercise their constitutional right to practice their religion in a manner that is respectful of other individuals’ rights to follow their own belief systems.”