The Air Force released new guidelines for religious expression Thursday that no longer caution top officers about promoting their personal religious views.
The revised guidelines say nothing should be understood to limit the substance of voluntary discussions of religion where it is reasonably clear that the discussions are personal, not official, and can be reasonably free of potential coercion.
Now here's a problem I have: Coercion isn't just something you do to me; it's also something I feel. You don't have to intend to coerce in order for me to feel coerced. Now put this in the context of talking with someone who happens to be a deeply religious Christian evangelical and who also happens to be the guy who writes and approves your annual enlisted performance report.
The nature of the military colors every interaction between superiors and subordinates. While many hierarchical organizations have this issue, none have it to the extent of the military; because unlinke the civilian world military members are always on the job; can't quit; aren't free to take time off without planning; are subject to recall, not just from leave, but even after separation (years afterward, even); and can go to jail for saying no.
While no courts-martial would uphold an order to, say, attend church, I can certainly envision it happening. After all, the issue that kicked off this whole furor was allegations at the Academy that some students and instructors were using rank to pressure others to attend church or even convert.
Then there's this little gem:
And that one should give everyone pause. Posted by cerebus at February 21, 2006 1:15 PM
They also omit a statement in the earlier version that chaplains "should respect the rights of others to their own religious beliefs, including the right to hold no beliefs."