Evangelical Fundamentalists are soiling the US Military with their never-ending attempts to infuse every possible occasion with GOD rhetoric. Now they are doing it this time with a brand new, extremely repulsive vomiting of unauthorized text into a ceremony that was officially standardized by the Air Force a decade ago.
It’s no surprise. As Founder and President of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), I’ve watched this injustice happen over and over, and no matter how many times we bring the mallet down on the heads of the whack-a-mole pseudo scholars who insist on violating the law (a law passed down by one of their own, no less) we’ll soon see another disgusting, bullying cockroach appear yet again waving the religious (read: fundamentalist Christian) flag of self-entitlement, self-aggrandizement, and self-righteousness.
Headlines are trumpeting once again about yet another poor little, righteous martyr/warrior for Jesus Christ who has been unfairly targeted for merely speaking the name of his preferred Deity. The mainstream press is painting retired Air Force NCO Oscar Rodriguez as a gem among men, an infallible soldier for the Lord, unjustly “violated” because he is a “man of faith”. There’s really not much that could be further from the truth.
A little backstory is in order for readers to fully comprehend how vile this oft-repeated behavior is and how its proponents slink out of the stinking sewer time and time again to repeat their illegal actions at the expense of other personnel.
Evangelical Fundamentalists insist that any script used at a flag folding ceremony should be packed with religious symbolism – from the stars and stripes themselves to the meaning of each fold as they are made. An unofficial popular script has been pushed for decades but in 2005, the Air Force created an official, secular, patriotic script to be used at flag folding ceremonies. They followed up the next year with an actual regulation mandating ONLY the use of THIS approved script, if a script is to be used at all.
What does this regulatory revelation mean? It means that according to Air Force Instruction 34-1201 (sec. 2.15) “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). Isn’t that about as obvious, simple and conclusive as could be humanly and reasonably possible? A video of a properly conducted flag folding ceremony using the correct, authorized script can be seen here.
Late Wednesday, June 22, 2016, the Air Force publicly released a shockingly erroneous statement illicitly confirming the “right” of USAF personnel to have religious-themed speeches utilized at flag folding ceremonies at the personnel discretion of Air Force members:
“Air Force personnel may use a flag folding ceremony script that is religious for retirement ceremonies. Since retirement ceremonies are personal in nature, the script preference for a flag folding ceremony is at the discretion of the individual being honored and represents the member’s views, not those of the Air Force. The Air Force places the highest value of the rights of its personnel in matters of religion and facilitates the free exercise of religion by its members.”
The astonishing and embarrassing disparity between the Air Force’s official statement from late Wednesday and the actual controlling Air Force regulation could not be more blatantly apparent!
In typical fashion, the Evangelical Fundamentalists are now shrieking that the “original, traditional” script has been ruthlessly “stripped” of its meaning because of the evil, intolerant, non-Christians – and this false idea is being propagated by most of the media reporting on the event. In reality, since 2005, this regulation and the foundational law have been broken time and again, and not only by individuals seeking to make a statement of faith.
Flash forward to 2013, when Rodriguez, the dubious star of the hour, chose to deliver his very own, originally created God-infused flag folding script at his own retirement ceremony. Rodriguez claims that his performance was off the cuff, but it only takes a glance at this video to see him preening for the camera to know that he’s delivering what was obviously a well-rehearsed performance in direct defiance of Air Force Instruction 34-1201 (sec. 2.15).
This initial flagrant defecation on the flag was reputedly followed up by many repeat performances, enough that a retiring Master Sergeant Charles Roberson specifically asked for Rodriguez to give the same regulation violating speech at his retirement ceremony – held at Travis Air Force Base in April.
There are a few key facts to be pointed out here:
- Rodriguez’s “special” and specifically prohibited script purposefully and disrespectfully crams “God” in as often as possible.
- Roberson knew of Rodriguez’s special, regulation violating “God” speech, and specifically requested it for his retirement ceremony.
- Roberson’s superiors and the officiating officer as well as several other sources from Travis Air Force Base affirm that Rodriguez had already been banned from the base by the wing commander (how he obtained access in this case is anyone’s guess?).
- A Travis AFB official said in a statement to Military.com, “Rodriguez ignored numerous requests to respect the Air Force prescribed ceremony.”
- Rodriguez can be seen being politely asked to suspend his speech once he began the unauthorized prelude, whereupon he starts yelling the words as loudly as he can and forces other airmen to escort him from the scene.
- The media immediately started portraying the incident as a “violent assault.”
The fundamentalist Christian religious fanatics at the First Liberty Institute (well known for jumping on any pretense to cry “Christian persecution” and “violation of First Amendment Rights”) were quick to jump on the case, and have announced that they plan to file a lawsuit if apologies are not made to Rodriguez for the “violence” used against him.
But is the First Liberty Institute hitching its wagon to the right star? We think not. Comments from presumed fellow service members posted on Rodriguez’s self-videotaped performance of his “special” speech at his own flag folding ceremony in 2013, seemingly paint Rodriguez as what appears to be a man of low morals, an alleged hypocrite who allegedly brought both his ex-wife and 19 year old girlfriend to his retirement ceremony, who is alleged to have retired under a cloud of allegations of housing fraud and improper conduct, and was described as a person whom these presumed fellow servicemembers “simply wanted to make sure left the base, afterwards.” (MRFF plans to investigate the veracity of these allegations, revealed in the comments section of Rodriguez’s YouTube video by his former fellow service members.)
The First Liberty Institute may have once again bitten off more than they can chew with their new poster child for Christian persecution.