Focus on the Family Exhort President Bush to Repeal New Air Force Guidelines

Focus on the Family called on millions of its members to contact President Bush to repeal the new Air Force Guidelines concerning religious tolerance.

Two day after the Air Force issued new guidelines on public displays of faith, Focus on the Family posted an article on its website titled, “Air Force Religious-Expression Guidelines Called 'Hypocritical,’” which urged readers to contact President Bush and request freedom of religious expression in the Air Force.

"I'm concerned that the environment is not friendly to free expression of religion," said Tom Minnery, Focus on the Family's vice president of public policy, to Colorado’s Rocky Mountain News. "We want to be sure that the president hears that a lot of people are concerned about this, and that should help the Air Force cadre apply these principles fairly and constitutionally."

The new religious tolerance guidelines, issued on Aug. 29, concern many Christians because they keep soldiers, who face life-threatening situations, from encouraging each other through daily sharing their faith. Public prayer and religious expressions are discouraged except under “extraordinary circumstances,” such as “mass casualties, preparation for imminent combat and natural disasters,” according to the guidelines.

"Academy cadets are trained to render the ultimate sacrifice, and should be encouraged to grapple with life's ultimate meaning, not harassed when they do so," says Tom Minnery, Vice President of Government and Public Policy at Focus on the Family Action.

Lt. Col. Bob Maginnis, a retired army officer, said in a interview with Focus on the Family, “We’re in a time of war. We’re currently under unusual circumstances and have been since 9/11, and I think it is unfortunate that the Air Force has stamped on religious freedom and told commanders that they should chill any effort to express a faith in God, given that we have young men and woman that are dying every day on the battlefields.”

Minnery adds, "You know, we shouldn't have to get to a point where there is a disaster and bodies are lying before us before we invoke the name of God in a public way. And yet, that's the direction the Air Force seems to be going."

The Colorado Springs Air Force had undergone an investigation regarding religious intolerance in the month of May after the academy was accused by the Americans United for Separation of Church and State of imposing evangelical Christian beliefs on its cadets. The 16 member investigation team found “no overt, systemic religious discrimination against non-Christians at the Colorado Springs, Colo. Facility,” according to CitizenLink.

Christian organizations other than Focus on the Family are also voicing their protest against the new guideline, which will suppress religious freedom of expression of those in the military.

“To say that you can only have prayer in extraordinary circumstances I think is hypocritical,” comments Mat Staver, President of Liberty Counsel. “And certainly not consistent with our Founding Fathers and George Washington — our first general and first president.”

Focus on the Family is currently taking steps to reinstate freedom of religious expression in the Air Force by calling upon concerned Christians to contact President Bush and urge him change the new Air Force guidelines.