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Re: "Christian Fighter Pilot"
Lt. Col. Jonathan Dowty's
Offensive Behavior

An Open Letter from Lt Col (USAF) Ret. Edith A. Disler,
PhD., MRFF Director for LGBT Affairs

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Click here to view PDF on MRFF letterhead

General Mark A. Welsh III
Chief of Staff, United States Air Force
1670 Air Force Pentagon
Washington, DC 20330-1670 

Gen. Janet C. Wolfenbarger
Commander, Air Force Materiel Command , Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio
4375 Chidlaw Rd.
Wright-Patterson AFB, OH 45433

Brigadier General David A. Harris,
Commander, 96th Test Wing
101 West D Avenue, Suite 116,
Eglin AFB, FL, 32542
Re:      "Christian Fighter Pilot" Lt Col Jonathan Dowty's Offensive Behavior

To whom it may concern,

I am dismayed to be, once again, writing to complain about active duty Air Force officer Jonathan Dowty’s homophobic and very public, religiously-motivated rants, which are, apparently, willingly tolerated by Air Force leadership.  Once again, an Air Force Academy graduate – cloaked in his own delusions of self-righteousness – is going to his workplace with bigoted attitudes which are incompatible with his officer rank.  Once again the Air Force, by virtue of its inaction, is openly promoting a fundamentalist Christian world view.  How is it possible for such a small-minded person to don the uniform of the Air Force and go to work with even a modicum of objectivity and credibility?  It isn’t – which is why the Military Religious Freedom Foundation now has over 37,000 total clients in the U.S. military, 861 of which are LGBT.

Almost daily, all LGBT people in the United States are forced to endure news coverage painting them as unfit to parent, unfit to engage in the legal protections of marriage, and now, according to Dowty, unfit to be Christian.  On Monday I heard news coverage about states fighting to continue to discriminate against same-sex couples who want to marry.  The argument was that they are unfit parents.  Don’t tell that to the five same-sex couples at my Baptist church – where I’ve been invited to serve as a Deacon and as Chair of the Finance Committee -- who all have wonderful, wonderful children.  Listening to that news coverage, I wondered what other groups were forced to endure such open and judgmental vitriol.  People of African descent in the Jim Crow south?  Law abiding Spanish speaking immigrants who go to work every day and pay their taxes?  Yes, and yes.  Now, add to that list LGBT service members forced to endure serving under Lt Col Jonathan Dowty.  His biases and bigotry are crystal clear, and he carries them proudly.

Ironically, on Tuesday I saw a glimmer of hope: I learned that June 2014 would be the first DoD sanctioned Gay Pride month, with the Secretary of Defense acknowledging that the DoD needs to take a closer look at “the ‘T’” in LGBT.  But by Wednesday, that glimmer of hope was extinguished when I read Dowty’s  open fundamentalist assertion that Christianity and homosexuality are incompatible and irreconcilable.  I’d call that “hogwash” and “horse manure,” but that would be an insult to two much more noble animals.

So, I will assert:
1) Given his open antagonism for anything other than his brand of Christianity, this officer, Jonathan Dowty, is unfit to lead anyone, let alone troops who are LGBT, Jewish, Muslim, Wiccan, Agnostic, Atheist, Humanist, adherents to Native American spiritual traditions, or Buddhist;

2) This active duty Air Force officer is in clear violation of Air Force Instruction 1-1 which Dowty violates on several counts, including his written disdain for LGBT persons.  AFI 1.1 clearly states “Leaders at all levels must balance constitutional protections for an individual’s free exercise of religion or other personal beliefs and the constitutional prohibition against governmental establishment of religion. For example, they must avoid the actual or apparent use of their position to promote their personal religious beliefs to their subordinates or to extend preferential treatment for any religion.”
3) I am amazed at the Air Force senior leadership’s utter inability to bring Dowty in line, despite repeated complaints.  Apparently there’s a helplessness to discipline a single officer.  Such ineffectuality is exactly why MRFF’s clients well above 37,000 and their LGBT clients number 861, and speaks to a leadership devoid of the ability to assert fairness and equal protection as a moral and military imperative.
In my family, my first cousin was the fourth generation of ministers.  My father was a minister, my grandfather was a minister, and my mother is a church organist and musician to this day; I know the Bible, I know compassion, I know justice.  But I also know the difference between having personal beliefs, and forcing them on others.  As an Air Force officer of 25 years, I’m old school.  I believed, and still believe, that military leaders lose trust unless they’re politically and religiously neutral in their leadership.  That didn’t stop me from attending Easter sunrise service on the lake at Little Rock Air Force Base before I went on Strategic Alert and it doesn’t stop a chaplain from providing pastoral care.  What it did do was communicate to those under my care that a good officer leads them and looks out for them no matter their race, religion, or family situation.  Apparently real officership and equitable leadership are too old-fashioned for today’s Air Force.

Dowty is proudly homophobic and clearly regards his fundamentalism as more important than his oath.  The Air Force has shown by its inaction that it, at least tacitly, supports him.  The people of the Air Force deserve better.


Edith A. Disler, PhD, MBA, Lt Col (USAF) Ret
MRFF Director for LGBT Affairs,
Advisory Board Member,
Military Religious Freedom Foundation

Deborah Lee James - Secretary of the Air Force
Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson, Superintendent, United States Air Force Academy
Tom Carpenter, Esq., co-chair, Forum on the Military Chaplaincy
Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein, Esq., MRFF Founder and President
Randal G. Mathis, Esq., Mathis & Donheiser P.C. - MRFF Lead Trial Counsel

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