Friday, February 22, 2019

Air Force JAG OK's Religious References At Change of Command Ceremonies

In a legal opinion issued last December which is just now attracting attention, the U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General has issued an opinion on the permissible extent of religious references during a change of command ceremony.  In OpJAGAF 2018-52 (Dec.19, 2018), the Air Force ruled:
[A] commander may:  briefly thank a Supreme Being (either generally, such as Providence, that Almighty Being, our Lord, or the Supreme Author of All Good; or specifically, such as Allah, Brahman, Christ, Ganesh, God, Yahweh, or even Beelzebub), have an invocation, and choose whomever he or she would like to provide the invocation. If the commander holds a personal promotion ceremony on the same day, a significant break must occur between the change of command and promotion ceremony in order for the commander to be freer in expressing his or her personal religious beliefs.  If a break does not occur, the commander must limit his or her religious comments to comments that are appropriate at the official change of command.
Friendly Atheist and Rewire News  report on the ruling.  The Military Religious Freedom Foundation plans to challenge the ruling.