Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Air Force Issues Interim Religious Guidelines

The Air Force Times reported yesterday that new Interim Guidelines (full text) on religious tolerance have been adopted by the Air Force in the wake of allegations that at the Air Force Academy, evangelical Christians created a hostile atmosphere for non-Christians. The new guidelines discourage public prayer at functions like staff meetings, office meetings, classes and sports events or practices. They urge commanders to be sensitive that personal expressions of religious faith can easily be mistaken for official expressions. They also tell chaplains to to "respect the rights of others to their own religious beliefs, including the right to hold no beliefs." However, the Guidelines point out that in situations like mass casualties or preparation for imminent combat, the potential benefit of public prayer may outweigh the potential of causing discomfort.

The official Air Force release announcing the Guidelines quotes Lt. Gen. Robert A. Brady as saying: "In a world where many nations are torn apart by religious strife, we must understand that our ability to stand together -- those who represent many religions shoulder-to-shoulder with those who claim no religion -- is a great strength."