MIKEY’s OP-ED – Good Riddance to the Air Force’s Religious Intolerance Enabler in Chief

Selected Article Excerpts:

  • In his last agonizing days, the now-disgraced former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno lamented publicly, “I wish I had done more.” Indeed, we all wish he had… Paterno’s concealment of [Jerry] Sandusky’s vile misdeeds ruined his own legacy as coach and forever stained the reputation of Penn State’s athletics program.
  • A similar drama has played out within the ranks of the United States Air Force (USAF). Rather than the odious offense of covering up sexual abuse, we have seen the vast coverup of an unlawful epidemic whereby many thousands of men and women within the ranks of the USAF have been subject to serial religious abuse and molestation. The national security repercussions of this ongoing crisis are all too dire, and as was the case at Penn State, the responsibility for this scandal ultimately lies with the most senior leadership.
  • On August 10, 2012, the current chief of staff (the commander) of the USAF, General Norton A. “Norty” Schwartz, will saunter off into a plush and comfortable retirement. Schwartz has spent 39 years on active duty, with the last four of these years being spent as the singular leader in charge of the USAF. I know this man well, and he knows me well too – all too well. We first met in his lavish Pentagon office nearly three and a half years ago. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss the civil rights activism of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), the organization that I founded in 2005… The most important advice he gave me was to never lose my “vitriol” lest the Pentagon stop listening to MRFF’s constitutional civil rights battle Well, Norty, this op-ed is a testament to how seriously I took your counsel. In careful retrospect, it is likely the only truth you have ever spoken to me.
  • As months passed and turned into years, Norty and I spoke frequently. Sometimes we spoke numerous times each month, and occasionally we spoke numerous times per week. Indeed, I still have a plethora of voice mails left by him from when I was unable to answer his calls. When we did speak, he was always superficially courteous and disingenuously engaging.
  • When I described the real-world consequences wrought upon the USAF by this maelstrom of fundamentalist Christian tyranny and provided him incontrovertible proof of same, including eyewitnesses, he would tell me that he “could not be everyone’s Wing Commander.” After years of continuously promising me the opportunity to address his most senior subordinate commanders, he lamented that the “white hairs” (read: senior USAF four-star generals underneath him) were “too far gone” to change. He suggested that I instead speak to those junior officers who would be in a position to affect institutional change in, say, just a decade or two. Seriously? Right, Norty. (continued, see link below)

Click here to read article at Truthout

Click here to read article at Alternet (note: due to recent issues with an update of the site, there are some formatting issues and other miscellaneous problems with the post)

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1 Comment

  1. Natalie

    Thank you for your continued activism against the religious crusader mentality in the military. However, I think in this article, you missed the fact that it’s not “rather than” the odious offense of covering up sexual abuse, it’s “in addition to” this terrible crime. Unfortunately, religious self-righteousness has long been used to rationalize sexual predation. The military is currently engaged in denying and covering up rampant sexual abuse. See:



    Thanks again, and please please don’t forget that while religious proselytizing in itself is unconscionable in the military, it often is in the service of rationalizing darker ambitions that it is most harmful.

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