Currently, freedom of speech and religion have been under attack in many institutions such universities and college. Now it seems that the armed forces must control what they said. A member of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), an organization whose goals is to keep religion from the military, wrote a letter to an Air Force commander who mentioned Jesus as his “guide” in an interview.
US Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Kersten, who serves in the Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, was interviewed by the base’s web page as part of the features stories introducing new members.
“Is there a leader from your career that influenced you the most?” he was asked during the interview.
There’s no ONE in particular, Kersten responded. “As a Christian, my example is to be like Christ. He is my guide and affects all of my decisions. He teaches to do all things as unto the Lord and I believe this is synonymous with integrity first and excellence in all we do.”
That answer caused Mikey Weinstein, member of the MRFF, to complain stating that:
“Lt. Col. Kersten … violated AFI 1-1 with his sectarian Christian proselytizing statement. He has proclaimed to the entire Incirlik Air Base community that ALL of his decisions are based upon his Christian faith … He has VERY publicly endorsed his singular view of Christian faith supremacy and it is not unreasonable or irrational to think that this widespread endorsement … could and/or would lead to preferential treatment of those subordinates who share his views.”
Moreover, he claims that Lt. Col. Kersten’s answer offended Turkish military personnel since most of them are Muslims.
So, Weinstein demanded Kersten’s superiors to:
(1) expeditiously and publicly rebuke Lt. Col. Kersten’s official statement …(2) appropriately and visibly punish Lt. Col. Kersten for his unconstitutional and UCMJ-violating behavior; (3) apologize to your airmen and our Turkish allies…
Fortunately, Col. John Walker believes that Air Force members have the right to practice their religion freely.
“The Air Force places the highest value on the rights of its personnel in matters of religion by its members,” he wrote. “Our Airmen are sworn to protect our rights and liberties as Americans, including the right of all Airmen to practice their religious faith of to practice no faith at all.”
Even though the Legal Affair Coordinator of the MRFF insisted on a punishment for Lt. Col. Kersten for expressing his Christian faith, Col. Walker has not responded to its threat.
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