Kent Miller of the Air Force Times reported on February 7, 2017 that MRFF contacted the Air Combat Command (ACC) at Joint Base Langley-Eustis (Virginia) about removing posters at ACC headquarters based on MRFF client complaints that the posters “clearly advocate a higher value in religious airmen over non-religious airmen, and communicate a necessity for religious faith to be successful as airmen” and “one of the quotes on these photos hearkens back to the days of male dominance in the Air Force, and is not appropriate”. Miller reported that MRFF President/Founder Mikey Weinstein filed the complaint of behalf of 16 Air Force officers, NCOs and civilians. These complainants include nine women and represent a variety of faiths (Christians, Jewish, Muslim, atheist, agnostic, humanist or secularist). Mr. Miller further reported that according to ACC spokesman Col. Edward Sholtis, the ACC had decided to leave the poster display unaltered because “The posters do not officially endorse, disapprove of, or extend preferential treatment for any faith, belief or absence of belief, which is the standard established by regulation that would warrant action.”
A formal complaint was submitted by MRFF on February 9, 2017 Gen. Herbert J. Carlisle, Commander, Air Combat Command based on the following statements contained on these offensive posters:
“Men cannot live without faith except for brief moments of anarchy or despair. Faith leads to conviction – and convictions lead to action. It is only a man of deep convictions, a man of deep faith, who will make the sacrifices needed to save his manhood…It is obvious that our enemy will attack us at our weakest spot. The hole in our armor is our lack of faith. We need to revive a fighting faith by which we can live, and for which we would be willing even to die. It is the only way that we shall be able to get meaning back into our lives. It is our only safety in all this muddled world. AF Manual 50-21, August 1955
The idea uppermost in the minds of the men who founded the United States was that each and every human being was important. They knew that the importance of man came from the very source of his life – because man was made in the image and likeness of God, he had a destiny to achieve. And because he had a destiny to achieve, he had the unalienable rights and the inherent freedom to achieve it. That is the basic idea of our democracy. That is the keystone of our way of living. Discard that central thought and there is no meaning to our Declaration of Independence; there is no validity to our Constitution. AF Manual 50-21, August 1955″
MRFF’s complaint responded to Col. Sholtis’ statement regarding the posters by pointing out 3 key aspects of the statements contained on the posters:
“This message undoubtedly expresses a preference for airmen of religious faith over those who practice no religion. It not only states that men cannot even LIVE without faith, it questions the loyalty, strength, and sacrifice of non-religious airmen by stating that only men of faith are willing to make necessary sacrifices, as well as that faith is “our only safety.”
Contrary to the statement of this poster, the Constitution explicitly provides for the religious freedom of all citizens, regardless of faith or lack of faith. The religious beliefs of the Founders are irrelevant – when they drafted the Establishment Clause, prohibiting the endorsement of one religion over others or of religion over non-religion, they plainly chose to create a government based on democratic principles, rather than religious principles. The rights and freedoms granted by the U.S. Constitution are neither a result of being made in the image of God, nor conditioned upon the belief in that God. Constitutional rights are absolutely “valid” without reference to the personal beliefs of those who drafted the Constitution.
This poster also expresses the message that only men are capable of exhibiting the loyalty and sacrifice necessary to serve.”
MRFF’s complaint to General Carlisle detailed clear violations of both the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Air Force Regulation and Air Force Regulation 1-1, Sections 2.11-2.12. MRFF’s complaint also pointed out message of male superiority is not only offensive, but violates Air Force Regulation 1-1, Sections 18.104.22.168-1.8.
Terry O’Neill, President of the National Organization for Women (NOW) fully supported MRFF’s position in a letter to Gen. Carlisle on February 9, 2017. In her support of MRFF’s position, NOW President O’Neill pointed to the poster statement that “It is only a man of deep convictions, a man of deep faith, who will make the sacrifices needed to save his manhood…” and asked:
“What message does that send to young women who currently serve, or want to serve, in the military? What do you say to the women in your command who make the same sacrifices to protect their country as do men? Is the purpose of the U.S. armed forces really to assist “only” men to make sacrifices necessary to save their “manhood?””