Religion and freedom

Your recent brandegging of your  victory in
having the USAF to remove uplifting and
Faith centered posters is not, by any
means showing support to our Men
serving in our Armed Forces. 
The term “Men”has alwas meant to
Include the members of female gender.
Refer to your scriptures.
(name withheld)

Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member Joan Slish
Dear (name withheld),
In the Bible the word men also means women, but not everyone in the Air Force is a Christian, so the word “men” to cover both sexes is meaningless to others.
“One of the messages stated: “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.”
Save HIS manhood? The word MEN isn’t used here.
Women were in the military in 1955 when this was written, so why didn’t they include them? Where is the wording to save HER womanhood?
Today the title “military personnel” is used to be inclusive of both sexes.
But there’s more wrong here than the Christian meaning of men.
The other poster says: “because man was made in the image and likeness of God…”
This comes directly from the Christian Bible..
We are defenders of the Constitution (Separation of Church and State), Supreme Court rulings and the UCMJ.
“…but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” (Article I, III)
This means that from the President to Congress to the military – no one’s job is based on their religion.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion (Establishment Clause), or prohibiting the free exercise thereof (Free Exercise Clause).”(First Amendment)
The Establishment Clause means that you cannot favor one religion over another even though it is in the majority. This clause respects the RIGHTS of all religions. Our military is SECULAR and there are people of other faiths that don the uniform that love this country. 
The Free Exercise Clause (which is subservient to the Establishment Clause) means that our soldiers are free to exercise any religion they want or no religion at all but cannot elevate one God above others.
“Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person’s life, freedom of religion affects every individual. Religious institutions that use government power in support of themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths, or of no faith, undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of an established religion tends to make the clergy unresponsive to their own people, and leads to corruption within religion itself. Erecting the “wall of separation between church and state,” therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society.” Thomas Jefferson, to the Virginia Baptists (1808) ME 16:320. 
This is his second known use of the term “wall of separation,” here quoting his own use in the Danbury Baptist letter.
This wording of the original was several times upheld by the Supreme Court as an accurate description of the Establishment Clause.
“Jefferson’s concept of “separation of church and state” first became a part of Establishment Clause jurisprudence in Reynolds v. U.S., 98 U.S. 145 (1878). In that case, the court examined the history of religious liberty in the US, determining that while the constitution guarantees religious freedom, “The word ‘religion’ is not defined in the Constitution. We must go elsewhere, therefore, to ascertain its meaning and nowhere more appropriately, we think, than to the history of the times in the midst of which the provision was adopted.” The court found that the leaders in advocating and formulating the constitutional guarantee of religious liberty were James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. Quoting the “separation” paragraph from Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists, the court concluded that, “coming as this does from an acknowledged leader of the advocates of the measure, it may be accepted almost as an authoritative declaration of the scope and effect of the amendment thus secured.
In 1878 “separation of church and state” became part of the Establishment Clause by law.
The Supreme Court heard the Lemon v. Kurtzman case in 1971 and ruled in favor of the Establishment Clause
Subsequent to this decision, the Supreme Court has applied a three-pronged test to determine whether government action comports with the Establishment Clause, known as the Lemon Test:
Government action violates the Establishment Clause unless it: 
1. has a significant secular (i.e., non-religious) purpose, 
2. does not have the primary effect of advancing or inhibiting religion 
3. does not foster excessive entanglement between government and religion
Parker v. Levy.
“This Court has long recognized that the military is, by necessity, a specialized society separate from civilian society… While the members of the military are not excluded from the protection granted by the First Amendment, the different character of the military community and of the military mission requires a different application of those protections. … The fundamental necessity for obedience, and the consequent necessity for imposition of discipline, may render permissible within the military that which would be constitutionally impermissible outside it… Speech [in any form] that is protected in the civil population may nonetheless undermine the effectiveness of response to command.  If it does, it is constitutionally unprotected.” (Emphasis added) Parker v. Levy, 417 U.S. 733, 1974
AFI (Air Force Instruction) 1-1, Section 2.12:
2.12. Balance of Free Exercise of Religion and Establishment Clause. Leaders at all levels must balance constitutional protections for their own free exercise of religion, including individual expressions of religious beliefs, and the constitutional prohibition against governmental establishment of religion. They must ensure their words and actions cannot reasonably be construed to be officially endorsing or disapproving of, or extending preferential treatment for any faith, belief, or absence of belief. 
We do not act on our own but on the complaints we receive from service members when the above laws are broken.
Contrary to what you may have been told we are neither an atheist organization nor are we anti-Christian. Mikey is Jewish (and prays to the same Father we do 3 times a day) and 80% of the Board, Advisory Board, volunteers and supporters (300 in total) of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) are Christians. In fact, 96% of our 50,000+ soldier clients are mainline Christians and we fight for them more than any other belief or non-belief.
We have many honorable and distinguished military personnel whom we rely on for their expertise on religion in the military on our Board and Advisory Board, who continue to uphold their oath.
Check out our Mission Statement
As retired Supreme Court Sandra Day O’Connor said “But we do not count heads before enforcing the First Amendment.”
Just because Christianity is in the majority in America doesn’t mean it can be elevated above others or allowed to post their faith anywhere they want in our secular military.
Though you continue to use only the word Men, we fully support our men and WOMEN serving in all branches of our military.
Joan Slish
MRFF Advisory Board Member

Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member Mike Farrell
Hi (name withheld),

In the more modern age, something you may not be fully informed about, the word “men” is no longer thought to include “the members of the female gender.” Apparently, however, that paternalistic and thoughtlessly arrogant view is still maintained by some few hold-outs.

Mike Farrell

(MRFF Board of Advisors)

Share this page:

Commenter Account Access

  • Register for a commenter account
    (Not required to post comments, but will save you time if you're a regular commenter)
  • Log in using your existing account
  • Click here to edit your profile and change your password
  • All comments are subject to our Terms of Use


  1. G

    “The term “Men”has alwas meant to Include the members of female gender.”

    Yeah, and how many men back in that time era resent being called girls or ladies during basic training let alone being treated as second class citizens by officers and NCOs whether they were active duty personnel or as reservists?

  2. Joshua Rownd

    I wonder when Mikey and NOW will sue to have the Constitution changed because of all the references to “he” in it, or will they sue the Air Force Academy to have the phrase “Bring me Men” removed from the passage way on campus there, or sue the Air Force itself because every person in the Air Force are called “Airmen.” Where will this all end?

  3. Connie

    Where will this end JR?

    It ends with a concept you refuse to acknowledge – equality.

  4. Joshua Rownd

    Connie, there will never be equality, sergeants will never be equal to officers, children will never be equal with parents, students will never be equal to teachers, employees will never be equal with bosses. There will always be a heirarchial structure, even priests will never be equal to the bishops or the pope for that matter.

  5. G

    JR, when was the term Airmen ever refer to officers and NCOs? Sorry JR, but we are all equal in the eyes of the Lord or have you forgotten that? In Germany, workers are allowed to sit on the board of director. In Sweden, you have the government, unions, and managers who get together every year to discuss wages and prices, and people in Europe not only has equal access to healthcare and education but the ability to afford it or get it for free.

  6. Connie

    JR – as a slave to patriarchy you confuse the concept of title or position with equality. King Arthur understood the concept of equality with his round table as both king and knight had a seat at the circle.

    Our forefathers started we, the people down this path with ‘We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal’. This was radical thought for the day. Brave men indeed to write such a missive to the king.

    As each generation advances, each stage of enlightenment gained opens the term ‘men’ to include more facets of humanity, first women, then color of skin, and today sexuality. What shall we include tomorrow? Human is human after all.

    Perhaps enlightened humans no longer need authoritarian figures to tell us how to live, breathe, or love. For the good of all and may it harm none, I hope it is so.

  7. Tom O

    JR, like all theocrats, is an authoritarian who is consumed by the lust for power and control over others. Some people are Christians because they want to be as loving as God: other people pretend to be Christians because they want to be as powerful as God.

  8. G

    “….or sue the Air Force itself because every person in the Air Force are called “Airmen.”

    Well JR, if everyone in the USAF is called an Airmen, then I guess I don’t have to address an officer as “sir” or “ma” nor do I have to salute him/her. And I guess I can not call a sergeant by his/her rank and tell him/her where to get off since we are all equal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *