An Air Force video saluting first sergeants — produced by an Air Force Chaplain — was removed by order of the Pentagon because it mentions the word “God,” even though it was never intended as required viewing. The top brass fears the video may be offensive to atheists or Muslims, but they are unconcerned about whether or not Christians are offended by the censorship of exercising free speech and freedom of religion. The video, based on the “So God Made a Farmer” commentary written and narrated by the late Paul Harvey, was recently updated and used in a Dodge Ram Super Bowl ad. The first sergeant tribute was created by a Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst chaplain as a poem, and later turned into a video, “So God Created a First Sergeant.” Chaplain Corps leadership at the Army-Navy-Air Force installation approved the video prior to its publication. Shortly after it was posted on YouTube it was brought to the attention of the Pentagon.
The Chief of the Air Force News Service Division stated incorrectly in an email, “Proliferation of religion is not allowed in the Air Force or military. How would an Agnostic, Atheist or Muslim serving in the military take this video?” The chief added, ”I would not recommend using this video at all.” In addition to the objection against the video’s repeated use of the name “God,” the chief found the opening lines objectionable because they referenced the “eighth day.” He remarked, “The choice of ‘On the Eighth day’ verbiage to begin this video is highly suggestive from the book of Genesis in the Bible and has Christian overtones.” Of course, the chief failed to grasp the fact that Genesis is also a sacred text in Judaism and Islam.
Both the Pentagon and the Air Force News Service Division have gone beyond the Constitution, restricting both free speech and the right to the free exercise of religion. While proselytization is prohibited by the Uniform Code of Military Justice, there is no prohibition in discussing religion freely. Because the video was not mandated as part of any required program, the Air Force was not endorsing religion. The fact that it was produced by a chaplain, and approved by Chaplain Corps leadership, demonstrates that the Pentagon is restricting the rights of both chaplains and airmen. The decision to censor the video comes less than a week following an incident at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, where the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, led by Mikey Weinstein, demanded the removal of a picture it deemed “offensive.”
An Airman, who asked not to be identified because he feared being disciplined, spoke with Fox News about the removal of the video. He stated, “It’s extremely frustrating. The Air Force is living in fear of Mikey Weinstein. If our chaplains cannot speak the name of God, let alone Christ, why have them?” I’ve towed the company line for years but this has pushed me too far to sit quietly while personal liberties are trampled upon.” The Airman said in recent months they have been reminded that they cannot proselytize (which is true) and they cannot share their faith on the installation (which is false, but is being pushed as “true” by many within the Air Force structure).
The Air Force is facing a severe crisis. Americans need to defend the rights of Airmen who live to defend the rights of others since the brass apparently has no brass.