Air Force changing rules to allow religious speech during retirements

Retired Senior Master Sgt. Oscar Rodriguez
Retired Senior Master Sgt. Oscar Rodriguez

The US Air Force is revising their policies regarding flag-folding ceremonies to allow religious language after a controversial and well-documented case for such provisions erupted at California’s Travis Air Force Base.

Retired MSGT Oscar Rodriguez was forcibly removed from a friend’s retirement ceremony for attempting to recite the requested flag-folding speech in which the Christian God was mentioned.

It was only after the video of Rodriguez’s removal went viral and the First Liberty Institute stepped in on his behalf -threatening to sue the USAF- that the Air Force issued a statement clarifying that “Air Force personnel may use a flag folding ceremony script that is religious for retirement ceremonies,” given the private and personal nature of such an event, according to Military Times.

On the opposite side of the argument, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation is declaring the USAF’s new decision to be wrong and that the statement contradicts a previous Air Force Instruction which demanded the secular version be used.

“The astonishing and embarrassing disparity between the Air Force’s official statement from late yesterday and the actual controlling Air Force regulation could not be more blatantly apparent!” the MRFF release said.

The MRFF demanded the USAF retract the statement recently made in favor of the First Liberty Institute, threatening a lawsuit if the Air Force doesn’t comply.
USAF spokesperson Captain Brooke Brzozowske says the Air Force Instruction should have been/will be updated to clarify the allowance of religious scripts at retirement ceremonies. She also noted that the USAF is waiting until the inspector general investigation into the incident is complete before releasing further information.

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