NATIONAL JOURNAL – Is Air Force Losing Its Religion?

Selected Article Excerpt:

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said she was told by Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson, the superintendent of the academy, that the cadet was told by a classmate that the Bible quote made them uncomfortable, and the cadet offered to take it down.

But Forbes disputed that account.

“No, madame secretary, that’s not true, by your own facts. If you’ll read what your liaison officer has given to me, … the Air Force commander … went to that cadet,” Forbes said. “… Can you imagine a young cadet when he’s forced with the entire chain of command coming in there and telling him basically this is inappropriate?”

But Gen. Mark Welsh, the Air Force’s chief of staff, pushed back, saying, “We remove hundreds of quotes from those boards, because they’re not in their room, they’re in the hallway. They’re used for both personal and professional messaging, just to make sure we all understand that context.”

Welsh stressed that the facts of what happened are still being established.

But a handful of Republican committee members backed Forbes and voiced their concerns over the reports.

GOP Rep. Michael Conaway of Texas said he is worried that “we have individuals who are so insecure and unsure of themselves that they can’t coexist with a free expression … of traditional religious views.… I wonder if they are the right folks for that business.”

And Republican Rep. John Fleming of Louisiana cited an article by Fox News’ Todd Starnes over allegations that Gideons International, a Christian organization, was not allowed to hand out Bibles at an Air Force base.

“You have to get the facts right on every one of these cases. And try and stay unemotional until you know what happened,” Welsh said. “I would not believe an article by Mr. Starnes, for starters.… I know there are cases when he has not had his facts right in articles. I would be happy to explain them to you, with him in the room.”

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