MRFF President/Founder Mikey Weinstein was contacted on September 1, 2021 by a client representing 13 MRFF Clients (7 of which identify as Christians themselves) at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska. These clients asked for assistance in dealing with the blatantly unprofessional practice by GS-12 USAF civilian Mr. James Lazenby (the Red Flag Team Chief of the 353rd Combat Training Squadron at Eielson AFB) of closing ALL of his official USAF E-mails with the phrase “Have a Blessed Day”.
Mikey quickly contacted Lt. Col. James Collins, Director of Operations at Eielson AFB to point out the clear violation of existing U.S. Air Force regulations created by this unprofessional and cloying attempt by Mr. Lazenby to unconstitutionally proselytize his faith to subordinates and others interacting with his team:
Mr. Lazenby’s clear attempt to proselytize his sectarian Christian faith by using his official USAF E-mail as a force multiplier, if you will, is PRECISELY the type of opprobrious behavior prohibited by AFI 1-1, Section 2.12 (Emphasis added):
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.
In an article for DailyKos on September 10, 2021, MRFF Senior Research Director Chris Rodda pointed out additional Air Force guidance pertaining to the professionalism of emails:
Air Force Handbook 33-337, also known as the “Tongue and Quill,” makes it very clear that no personal messages, religious or otherwise, are to be added to the signature block of any official email (emphasis added):
“Use appropriate closings. Official e-mail should close with “//SIGNED//” above the signature block to signify official Air Force information. Restrict the signature block to name, rank, service affiliation, duty title, organization name, phone numbers (DSN and/or commercial as appropriate) and social media contact information. Do not add slogans, quotes or other personalization to an official e-mail/social media signature block.” [emphasis added]
Mikey sent a second email to Lt. Col. Collins on September 8, 2021 demanding action on Mr. Lazenby’s unconstitutional and unprofessional behavior. As Mikey/MRFF awaited a reply, MRFF’s client contact in this matter emailed a confirmation on September 10, 2021 that Mr. Lazenby had ceased his cloying attempt at proselytizing:
Mikey, I just now received an email from James Lazenby and low and behold the offending phrase is gone. Congratulation my friend, you did it. This is a small but important victory for those who see the need to separate the church from the state. Other like minded military members should take solace in knowing that there is someone out there who is willing and very capable of righting these type of wrongs no matter how small they may seem. Keep fighting the good fight Mikey, your work is reaping rewards.
Sincerely, (MRFF Client’s name withheld)