More than 60 Republican lawmakers have signed a letter to U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta accusing the U.S. Air Force of being “hostile to religion,” according to Fox News.
The letter, drafted by Reps. Todd Akin (R-MO), Diane Black (R-TN) and Randy Forbes (R-VA), calls on Panetta to investigate a series of cases where the Air Force “succumbed” to pressure from outside groups, such as the removal of a paragraph from a Squadron Officer School training document saying, “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.”
The document was taken out following a complaint by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation that the line “creates the inescapable impression that regular church attendance is a requirement for commissioned Air Force officers in order to demonstrate positive morals to subordinates.” The foundation said it violates the constitutional ban on religious tests for U.S. office holders.
Cases like this, the letter says, demonstrate that the Air Force is going too far in separating church from state.
In a statement, the Air Force said airmen 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.”
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