Monday, July 6, 2009

Air Force Says No To Jets For Jesus

Talk to Action is reporting that over this past weekend a military fly over was denied for the Nampa, Idaho God and Country rally. The fly overs had been done in the past for this unabashed mix of Evangelical Christianity and it's unique concept of patriotism. The past participation of the Air Force was a direct violation of Department of Defense regulations regarding ceremonial flyovers. The Talk to Action article has the entire letter of denial sent from the Air Force.
The following excerpt from the same article is the response from the Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition. It's a great example of how the rules for the rest of us don't apply to Christian conservatives.

"For years, flyovers have been allowed by the Pentagon at the 'God and Country Rally' in Nampa Idaho. These flyovers were not to endorse or promote any one religious faith tradition. Rather, they were held to honor and pay tribute to our heroic men and women who have served or are currently serving in our armed forces. (Did this honoring include atheistic, agnostic, Islamic, Jewish or gay men and women?)

"For the Obama Administration to deny a flyover for the first time, is a slap in the face to all those who proudly serve our country especially when we are at war. These flyovers have been a special part of the 'God and Country Rally' for many years. (Technically the Department of Defense denied the fly over, and legally they should never have occurred at all. Not for the God and Country rally and not for any other patriotic rally with any religious over tones.)

"Will the new policy of President Obama be that a person has to surrender their faith tradition to honor and pay tribute to our courageous men and women who serve in the military? (One does not have to surrender one's faith tradition. The military can not single out any faith tradition for special recognition, a legality that was consistently violated for Christian events.)

"With respect to the economic concerns that the Pentagon mentioned, I would answer this way. If we can pay hundreds thousands of dollars for President Obama to go on a date with his wife to see a Broadway show and have an expensive dinner in New York City, we can certainly find a way to honor our brave men and women who serve in the armed services with a simple flyover.
"The Christian Defense Coalition will diligently work to reverse this unjust policy and determine why this flyover was denied in the first place." (Wow, wonderful straw man argument. One can't help wonder if the same kind of argument would have been used for all of GW's trips to Crawford----on the tax payer's dime.)

"Does this mean in the future that all public rallies must be stripped of any expressions of faith to respect our military? This Administration should be protecting religious expression in the public square not crushing it. (How is denying a fly over which clearly violates military law crushing religious expression in the public square? You still had your religious expression. You just didn't have any Air Force planes fly over the public square.)

"I hope that President Obama will reverse this unjust policy and next year we will be allowed to give the military the honor they deserve." (I'm sure every military person who is not Christian hopes that the Department of Defense maintains the law and does not reverse this denial.)


Why is it when Christian groups are not given preferential treatment, when they are treated like any other civilian group, it's state oppression? Could it be because these Christian groups actually think they are better than the rest of us, and deserve preferential treatment? Is it because they somehow think they have rights the rest of us don't? Or is it just because they've always gotten away with it in the past and now don't think the rules apply to them?

The Department of Defense is finally waking up to the abuses of separation of Church and state in our military, and it's about time. Evangelicals have had a relatively free hand to proselytize and push their religious agenda for way too long. So long in fact, some reasonable people see it as not just an internal security issue, but a serious morale issue effecting unit cohesiveness and mission. The exact thing Evangelicals are very quick to claim about gay service members.

As I've written before this has become one of my major concerns. The US Military is in the business of acting on the decisions of secular authority which is why the POTUS is the Commander in Chief. They are not supposed to be in the business of furthering one particular view of one particular religion. That's what the military in Iran is about.

It's getting tiring to hear the same mantra from conservative religious concerns that they are facing oppression when they don't get their entire way in the public square. It's getting tiring to hear that they are an oppressed minority when too much of their business seems to be oppressing the rights of minorities. Playing the victim card because the law puts boundaries on your behavior is getting very very old. Thank God the Air Force finally got this one right.
As for me, I got to watch the Navy's Blue Angels the previous weekend and they are awesome, and yes this was a strictly secular event. In their practice runs they flew right over my house, and the way it shook, it seemed like they were 10 feet above tree top level. Looked like it too. I thought it was a rush, but my cats didn't. I also thought that if this had been for real, I would have reacted just like my cats. There is a terribly beauty about these planes, and I have incredible respect for the people who fly them. I pray that the day will come when the only time the world experiences their terrible beauty is for celebratory fly overs---secular ones.


  1. If anyone truly wants to honor and pay tribute to our courageous men and women who serve in the military, then why on earth do they not get together and help these soldiers when they've returned from war and can find no job and are living on the streets? All the money for a flyover could be better spent on the military and their families.

    I'm frankly tired of Talk to Action that has more to do with a lot of talk and no action in truly honoring or paying tribute to anyone other than themselves.

  2. Butterfly, Talk to Action is a website that exposes the antics of the rightwing Christian agenda.

    It is most certainly not their advocate.

  3. Oooops. I misread. That's what I get for reading too quickly and with one foot in vacation and the other with trying to keep up with what's going on and utterly exhausted. My humble apologies to Talk to Action.

  4. Aside from the VERY valid issue of seperation of Church & State, we have the issue of money.

    It costs a LOT of $$ to feed & care for these specialized pilots & their planes. Plus training, planning, etc. That is all coming out of your pocket.

    If they do a performance at a state/county fair - all ppl can enjoy it. It is not just for some specialized group (at taxpayer expense!).

    The Christian Right...and frankly all religious groups need to get over the idea that they are somehow entitled to special treatment by the US govt. at taxpayer expense. They are not!

    Rather then all of their pointless, silly virtual political rallies, why do they not put all that effort, time & $$ to do what Jesus told His followers to do:

    To care for the poor.

    Why? Because their 'religion' is about Jesus, not IN Him!

  5. The Christian right is not even about Jesus; it is about themselves and what they believe. They are not even about what Jesus believed and preached.

  6. except the stuff that let's them condemn other people.