Mr. Weinstein and MRFF, I am writing on behalf of 25 Airmen (24 of whom self-identify as either Protestant or Catholic) stationed at Little Rock AFB, Arkansas. Not that it should make a difference, but I was raised in a strong Southern Baptist household. All 25 of us Airmen are coming to the MRFF because we fear negative repercussions if we approach our chain of command about the below.
Coming February 7, 2014, Little Rock AFB has a mandatory-attendance “Wingman Day” that involves many instruction elements including Physical, Mental, Social, & Spiritual elements (see article from the Little Rock AFB Combat Airlifter attached). Consequently, the Spiritual element is clearly promoting a Christian religious faith with no alternative means. According to the news article, Team Little Rock is hosting this event with “Christian videos” and one of the modules is labeled: “Love Happens: God’s Purpose and Plan”. Wingman Days are a fun social event in a relaxed atmosphere where issues and opinions can be discussed in the open freely, but that is just not the case here. The references to the Christian faith specifically and God more generally are clearly describing the course’s intent, the intent to unfairly represent our military members as a single faith: Christian; and not just any “Christian” but evangelizing Christian. The 24 of our number who are Christians can see that for sure. The American Military chooses to sacrifice their lives in order to protect our nation’s and society’s rights and freedoms. These particular freedoms include the freedom of and from religion and faith. An Airmen is not better than any other only because he or she follows evangelizing Christianity.
One of our group of Airmen has come to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation for help has written an e-mail to the Base Public Affairs office regarding the “mandatory requirements” and asked why they believe they should tell people a healthy marriage requires religion and a certain deity. The response we have received included a very vague determent stating “The video series the Chapel is presenting is on marriage from a religious perspective.” A healthy marriage is not exclusive to the members of a religious faith, and it is morally wrong and unconstitutional to indicate the contrary. I am shocked to see our team sponsoring just one single very conservative and evangelizing version of only one belief system (evangelical Christianity), when our core values are strictly intended to respect all others with absolute fairness and equality. Please see that our team at Little Rock AFB equally represents all of our Airmen, both of different and no faith.
Our Airmen in the USAF should not be judged on their following of only one type of one faith as it is being done here for all to see. What’s worse is that the command climate is such that we all fear reprisal if we tried to express our objections from within USAF channels here at Little Rock AFB. Please help us, Mr. Weinstein. Some of us will be willing to talk to the media if you deem it necessary. Thank you and your team for all you do for all of us in the military.
(USAF Airman/MRFF Client’s name, rank, unit and AFSC all withheld), USAF
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Little Rock AFB, xxx xxx