Dear Gen. Schwartz,

I was very heartened to hear about your recent release of guidelines for maintaining “government neutrality regarding religion.”

When I met you at [a recent event] in the DC area, you told me that you’ve always seen the Air Force as “a team sport.” Your advocacy of First Amendment rights makes me feel included as part of that team.

As both an officer’s wife and a Wiccan priestess, it has been painful for me to be excluded by the invocations given at nearly all formal Air Force events. Hearing about specifically Christian-centric actions like the nuclear ethics training makes me even more concerned for servicemembers who are not Christians and what they must go through on an all-too-frequent basis.

Thank you for speaking out against efforts to co-opt military means for improper, intrusive, and unwelcome religious proselytization. Your reminder to the Air Force as a whole to respect both the Establishment and the Free Exercise clauses of the First Amendment for all people shows how you are upholding your oath to protect and defend the Constitution to its fullest extent and working to create a service culture that embodies the American ideal of religious liberty. For that I offer my deepest thanks.


2 thoughts on “An open letter to Gen. Schwartz

  1. As a veteran, I concur wholeheartedly with your sentiments on this matter. Though I was very lucky to have had commands that followed EO and access to chaplains that embraced the religious plurality found within the military, I know others have not been so blessed (my husband had this experience at one of his last commands). Until the military uniformly holds both officers and enlisted accountable for upholding the freedom of religion via preventative measures (religious literacy training might be a good option) and punitive measures (such as NJP or even discharge) within their ranks as they do for other forms of bigotry, I’m not sure that the overall command climate can change.

    1. Thanks, Thalassa. The attitudes to religious liberty really do come from the top down, much more so than people realize, which is why I’m so very glad for this.

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