March 9, 2015 – MRFF Intervenes on Behalf of Clients Objections to Religious BasedGreeting at Entrance to Military Installation
MRFF was contacted on March 9, 2015 regarding a religiously tingedgreeting in use at the ‘Russell Gate’ at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia. One of 13 MRFF clients (9 of whom are practicing Christians) who objected to this incursion of religion into their official duty indicated that “on no less than 15 occasions over the last two weeks, I have been greeted by themilitary personnel at the gate with the phrase “Have a blessed day.” Thisgreeting has been expressed by at least 10 different Airmen ranging in rank from A1C to SSgt.” [The word blessed is defined as: having a sacred nature : connected with God (Merriam-Webster)]
Mikey Weinstein, MRFF President and Founder, contacted the Security Forces Commander at Robins AFB to express the concern of MRFF’s clientsand obvious violation of Air Force Instruction 1-1, Section 2.12 regarding the ‘Free Exercise of Religion and Religious Accommodation’. In just over 3 minutes the Security Forces Commander agreed the greeting was clearly inappropriate and that it would be changed to the following appropriate non-religious greeting; “Have nice day, sir or ma’am?.”
Robins AFB leadership then quickly pandered to the religious right on March 12, 2015 by reversing and undermining the sound decision of the Security Forces Commander by determining (according to Robins AFB spokesman Roland Leach) that “use of the phrase ‘have a blessed day’ as agreeting is consistent with Air Force standards and is not in violation of Air Force Instructions.” Mikey pointed out in an editorial published at DailyKos and Alternet that:
Adding more to the entry process [at Robins AFB] only detracts from the sentry’s attention to their exclusive and solitary duty to watch for threats, but also suggests that the sentry’s discipline is NOT singularly dedicated to the mission—he or she is instead distracted by the additional commission of providing “blessings”. Therefore, and this is the REALLY important part that should be obvious to commanders and sentries who offer the salutation, “Have a blessed day,” conveys that they are NOT fully engaged performing theirmilitary duty. If someone entering the base feels like they need a “blessing” to get through their day—and it MUST be delivered by a paid, ranked and uniformed member of the United States military, then they should go to the chaplains’ offices.
MRFF is consulting with its legal counsel to see if any of its clients are prepared to sue the Air Force in federal court about this matter.
Infraction report from MRFF client at Robins AFB
Mar 9, 2015
I would like to make your organization aware of a possible church/state separation issue.
I am an active-duty Air Force member/employee currently assigned to Robins Air Force Base, Georgia for the purpose of training. I have been entering through what is known as the “Russell Gate” since the 23rd of February. On no less than 15 occasions over the last two weeks, I have been greeted by the military personnel at the gate with the phrase “Have a blessed day.” This greeting has been expressed by at least 10 different Airmen ranging in rank from A1C to SSgt. I found the greeting to be a notion that I, as a non-religious member of the military community should believe a higher power has an influence on how my day should go.
I apologize that I cannot provide recordings of these incidents as I feel I would be endangering my position and family by doing so. I’m sure sending an authorized representative of MRFF to enter the gate with a government id will be immediately greeted with the same message of faith.
I prefer to keep my name withheld as I know I would be discriminated against in my workplace if it came to light that I ” complained “.
Memo from MRFF Founder and President, Mikey Weinstein
…Spoke with Maj. (name withheld), Commander of the (Unit Designation Withheld) Security Forces at Robins AFB, Georgia at 9:18 am this morning MDT…..explained the outrage of our 13 MRFF clients stemming from his security force airmen saying “Have a blessed day” to all who enter the Robbins AFB gates…..explained AFI 1-1, Section 2.12…..he asked me how MRFF would feel if he had his troops stop saying that sectarian “greeting” and replaced it with “have a nice day”, would that be ok?…I replied that that would be perfect….he confirmed that he would take this action and the call ended….duration: 3 minutes and 10 seconds….
Thank you from MRFF client at Robins AFB
March 9, 2015 at 1:12:47 PM EDT
Mr Weinstein / MRFF staff,
Thank you for the quick response to the situation at my base. After your actions, the personnel at the gates have immediately changed their greetings to a more professional “Have a nice/good day sir/maam”. It is unfortunate that your services are necessary in this day and age, but they are highly appreciated. It is good to know someone available to stand and yell “This isn’t right” for those of us who feel we’d be discriminated against for doing so.
If you need anything else from me, feel free to contact me again.