MIKEY’s OP-ED – USAF Defecates On Its Regulations Yet Again: Flag Ceremony Unlawfully Promotes Ole’ Time Religion


The explicit embrace of radical-fundamentalist Christianity within the United States Air Force has reached an unprecedented level, disinformation to the contrary notwithstanding. This embarrassingly clear mark of religious extremist shame was revealed in its repugnant nakedness on the cover page of the Flag Day issue of “Commander’s Call Topics”, an official USAF weekly news publication distributed to USAF commanders across the globe, which is produced by the Defense Media Agency (a U.S. Department of Defense media organization) which is directly e-distributed to literally all USAF commanders across the globe. Please allow me to ever so briefly elaborate and explain this latest unbridled outrage.

This offensive content was featured under the header “Flag-folding Procedure is Uniquely American and Uncommonly Symbolic.” Oh yes, indeed we’re talking about a phenomenon as “uniquely American” as a three-dollar bill (and equally as symbolic) – a noxious myth ascribing false, sectarian religious origins to each fold in the traditional flag-folding exercise carried out by uniformed, American military personnel. You can watch a sappy, sentimental presentation of this content here. Here’s a small taste of this hideously mawkish “Judeo-Christian” screed:

“…The 11th fold, in the eyes of Hebrew citizens, represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies, in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

The 12th fold, in the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit.

When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national motto, ‘In God We Trust’…”

See what I mean? Let the gag reflex commence operations.

According to always dubious Christian fundamentalist folklore as retold by the American Legion website, the piece was allegedly written, initially, by an Air Force chaplain stationed at the United States Air Force Academy (sigh, where ELSE of course!), my alma mater and a hotbed of Christian extremist oppression. As such, the “folding” invocation is read aloud by democracy-despising theocrats at Christian nationalist functions and events for the purpose of lending false gravitas of fundamentalist Christian triumphalism and supremacy to otherwise uneventful gatherings.

However, we never expected an OFFICIAL USAF publication to feature this bible-thumping, psalm-reciting, “amen”-screaming, proselytizing garbage on its freaking front cover! Indeed, “Commander’s Call Topics” was distributed globally via e-mail to ALL USAF commanders, stationed ANYwhere on Planet Earth, with the instruction that it needs to be thoroughly promulgated throughout their commands and read aloud at Air Force ceremonies “that don’t have a personal preference element”! That latter term of “personal preference element” is naturally left intentionally ambiguous and utterly undefined for the usual obvious reasons of religious tyranny “loophole-age”.

After being alerted by an active duty Air Force officer, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), the sole organization fighting for the Constitutionally guaranteed separation of Church and State for our U.S. servicemembers, demanded that the unofficial and prohibited religious script be removed. The Air Force DID swiftly take down the original page, so, obviously, we thought that the prohibited flag folding script had been removed to be in compliance with laws and regulations. But, not so fast; shortly thereafter, we discovered that the constitutionally derelict Air Force had merely updated the page and put it back up at a different link.

In the original version of the “Commander’s Call Topics” issue, a line states, in reference to the “folding” origin tale, that “Whether this is fact or merely urban legend is unimportant.”

Really? Well, that may be the case. However, I can assure you that what is of paramount importance in settling this matter is the Constitution of the United States, as well as numerous relevant Department of Defense and Air Force directives, regulations, and instructions. If we want to talk values, let’s talk values – respect for the rule of law being foremost among them. Air Force Instruction 34-1201 (sec. 2.15.) is rather clear on the issue (and by “rather clear” we mean it is SPOT ON, and it simply ends the debate right here and now!):

According to Title 4 United States Code, there is no specific meaning assigned to the folds of the flag.  Although there are flag folding ceremony options offered by various national interest groups, these are not official Air Force ceremonies.  The Air Force developed a script that provides a historical perspective on the flag.  There are no ceremonies in the Air Force requiring a script to be read when the flag is folded.  However, when a flag folding ceremony is desired and conducted by Air Force personnel at any location, on or off an installation, this script is the only one that may be used. (Emphasis added) 

Need I or anyone else need to present any more supporting evidence here? And isn’t it most interesting that the term “personal preference element” is absolutely NOWHERE to be seen in this official Air Force regulation? Please pay special attention to the words bolded in the last sentence of this USAF regulation the breach of which is potentially tantamount to a felony under Section 892 of Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice!

The only official script allowed by Air Force regulations can be found here; it is entirely secular and sufficiently stirring on its own, without any need whatsoever for shameless sectarian preaching, or illegal, unconstitutional proselytizing.

We all know the fundamentalist Christian, religious right’s pathological proclivity for fabricating history, ascribing false beliefs on American national founders and icons, and composing narrative “quilts” out of these moth-eaten myths, deliberate falsehoods, and outright lies. Our MRFF Senior Research Director, Chris Rodda, has brilliantly deconstructed the deceitful, pseudo-scholarship of the self-promoting charlatan David Barton, a “hero” of Christian fundamentalist historical revisionism. And yes, even these filthy lies fall under the category of protected speech under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

However, that same Constitution also contains a No Religious Test Clause and No Establishment Clause, and the despicable proliferation of this “flag folding” screed, not by a fool like David Barton and his Christian fanatic phonies, but-on the contrary, within the full spectrum of the command ranks of the U.S. Air Force represents an incontrovertible violation of both of those clauses. Let’s put things into perspective here; the Flag Day issue of “Commander’s Call Topics” was but a simple platform in a broader, comprehensive theocratic assault on our Constitution, which is taking place within the U.S. Armed Forces. Let’s remember that this latest anti-Constitutional salvo was launched only a month after an Air Force General defied and defiled these VERY same laws and related DoD/USAF regulatory prohibitions by witnessing for Jesus in full uniform (in the hallowed halls of the United States Congress, no less) as broadcast on international television. To the USAF, regulations and Constitutional provisions appear to mean as much as would a few flies buzzing around at a family picnic; to wit, a mere trifle easily disregarded and ignored with impunity.

Now more than ever, it is of the utmost importance that Americans loudly condemn and counter the expeditious erosion of our Constitutional protections, unless we want even more Christian fundamentalist contraband to be smuggled into our U.S. armed forces from theocracy-crazed religious extremists.

You know what? A good start might be forcing the USAF to actually ENFORCE its own regulations with visible, public punishment for violators, rather than the current sorry state where its regulations are “complied” with far, far more in their breach than in their adherence.

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  1. Thank you so much Mikey and Team for ask that you do in protecting our freedom and the Constitution of these United States of America!!! Much appreciated!

  2. I am a Vietnam vet and a retired member of the National Guard. I am also a seminary graduate. I have never heard such utter nonsense in a long time. In my time in the military the only significance I ever heard to the way the flag is folded deals with the stars, and it was not that it had anything to do with “in God we trust.”

    I was always taught that there are supposed to be 13 stars showing when the flag is folded. The 13 stars are a reference to the original 13 states. If there is any other meaning, I never heard it in my time in the military.

  3. John Schuster

    Ditto that – thanks so much for your work.

    When Mikey lays out a case so “open and shut” like this, it more than justifies his use of strong language.

  4. William

    This was never an official flag folding script. Believe me, as a Ceremonial Guardsman for nearly 10 years of my career (Honor Guard); I’ve had more than my fair share of flag folds. In fact years ago, the Air Force came out with an OFFICIAL flag folding script and made it CLEAR that any other script used was in violation.

    So basically, the script you heard was illegally read.

  5. Gunther

    I was in Junior ROTC for three years and I never heard of that illegal flag folding script. Someone sure waste his God given brain in coming up with a hair brain script.

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