Independent Democracy

Thought provoking commentary

Air Force Airman Wants Freedom from Religion

21 May 2012

Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, AK

Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley spoke with Airmen today at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, AK. During the question and answer period, an Airman asked a question to the Secretary regarding rights for Airmen who are atheist, agnostic, humanist, or freethinking.

Here is the question that was asked:

I support & follow ALL Air Force regulations protecting an Airman’s religious freedom. However, I believe our Air Force does an inadequate job of protecting Airmen who are NOT religious.

For example, Airmen are routinely required to attend various military functions where public non-sectarian prayer is part of the program.

What will you do to ensure our Air Force respects Airmen like me who are atheist, agnostic, humanist, or freethinkers and don’t want to hear, or participate in public prayer? Current rules seem to imply, if I don’t like it, then don’t listen, and I find that offensive.

The Secretary provided his response and instead of pledging support for atheist, agnostic, humanist, and freethinking Airmen, he referenced the U.S. Constitution and freedom of religion; then proceeded to pledge his support of chaplains and their role in supporting Airmen of faith.

In his response, he did not acknowledge the rights of atheist, agnostic, humanist, or freethinkers to not have religion forced upon them at official Air Force functions. In fact, he never uttered the words atheist, agnostic, humanist, or freethinking.

The long standing problem has been, as outlined in the Airman’s question, that Airmen are often required to attend various military functions and prayer is often a part of the event. For example, change of command, award and graduation ceremonies are often mandatory attendance for Airmen. At these events, there is often a non-sectarian public prayer, which ignores the beliefs of the atheist, agnostic, humanist, and freethinkers in the audience. It is not uncommon; especially at a change of command ceremony, to have Airmen standing at attention or parade rest as a chaplain asks the audience, “Let us pray” and proceeds to speak, assumingly, for all those in the audience who ARE religious. Can you imagine having to listen to this when it goes against the very core of your personal beliefs? This is exactly the point this Airman was making.

Why are our U.S. Airmen being forced to attend mandatory Air Force functions where public prayer is a part of the event? Airmen are not required to attend church. So why are Airmen required to attend military functions where they are forced to listen to public prayer? To please the Airmen who believe in gods while disregarding those Airmen who don’t? Apparently that is exactly the current policy in the U.S. Air Force. At least that is the only conclusion one can make based on no regulations specifically protecting the atheist, agnostic, humanist, freethinker Airmen minority. Is there respect for Airmen who are not religious? That’s for you to decide. If you want to make the Air Force a more friendly and respectful place for America’s atheist, agnostic, humanist, and freethinking Airmen. See below for ways to help.

So, you may be asking yourself, why did this Airman bother to ask such a question. I asked it because I believe in my Air Force and all that it stands for. Secretary Donley is in a position to speak for all Airmen. I wanted to know what his (and the Air Force) position was on protecting atheist, agnostic, humanist, or freethinking Airmen. I believe in freedom of religion and all the Air Force regulations that support those who choose to believe in gods. I also support and defend the U.S. Constitution, which allows me to choose to believe or not believe in just about anything I want. When people, governments, or corporations respect the beliefs of some, but not all, something must be done to change that. The apparent Air Force indifference and disrespect for Airmen who are not religious, and full support for those who are, makes me wonder what “I will never leave an Airman behind” really means.

What can you do to support civil rights and the separation of church and state for America’s atheist, agnostic, humanist, and freethinking Airmen? Here is a list of some, but certainly not all, of the organizations that can help.

Join and support Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers
http://www.militaryatheists.org

Join and support Military Religious Freedom Foundation
http://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org

Join and support Freedom from Religion Foundation
http://www.ffrf.org

Join and support American Atheists
http://www.atheists.org

Join and support Americans United for Separation of Church and State
http://www.au.org

Get involved with your local atheist, agnostic, humanist, or freethinking group.

Respectfully contact:

Michael B. Donley
Secretary of the Air Force
1670 Air Force Pentagon
Washington, DC 20330-1670

Leon E. Panetta
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1000

Disclaimer: This article in no way represents the official position of the U.S. Air Force or the Department of Defense.

May 22, 2012 Posted by | Current Events, Military & War, News, Religion | , , | 1 Comment

Religion in the US Air Force

Is the US Air Force too cozy with religion? Has enough been done to keep religion out of non religious events? Is there an assumption that all Air Force personnel are religious?

Yes, the USAF is too cozy with religion. Not enough (or anything) has been done to keep religion out of non religious military events. There is not an expectation from the USAF that I believe in God but there certainly is the assumption that everyone DOES believe in God.

As a career Airman and atheist, the constant forcing of religion on me by the USAF has been disheartening. The AF says we can believe in whatever God we want (or not at all), then proceeds to force prayer on atheists/freethinkers/agnostics at every opportunity. The AF wouldn’t dream of forcing me to go to church but proceeds to force me to listen to prayer outside of church. From commander’s calls, change of commands, awards functions, graduation dinners, promotion and retirement ceremonies and everything in between, there is always a point where I have to sit/stand there and listen while prayer is integrated into the event. In most instances, attendance at these functions is NOT optional. How is that any different than forcing me to attend church and listen to prayer there? If people want to pray, I say go ahead and pray. Why must it be formally integrated into the official function and in such a way so that everyone does it at the same time in unison, while blatantly disrespecting the nonbelievers around them? People can pray on their own if they want to do so without it being organized into the event. I should not be forced to sit/stand there and listen to it. It’s not as though I can turn off my hearing.

By constantly allowing, encouraging, and expecting formal public prayer at official USAF functions, the military (government) is essentially endorsing religion and is in-turn disrespecting those Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines who choose not to believe in God.

February 20, 2012 Posted by | Military & War, Religion | Leave a comment

Lynn Samuels Show – The Final Shows + Tribute

Friends,

Here are some of Lynn’s final shows you can download from the folder link below. All are MP3 format with commercials. If you have any shows to share, please provide a link in the comments section. I wish I had more shows to offer. If you haven’t see it, here’s Lynn’s obituary from the New York Times. As you see below, I have added some more links for comments about Lynn from Mike Malloy, Democracy Now, and Mike Feder.

There are more Lynn archives available at Radio New York International. Please check it out and leave Dan a thank you comment for posting the audio.

Other Items of Interest:

  • Walter Sabo, President of Sabo media, posted a nice Tribute to Lynn Samuels on Talkers.com called Passion for Pistachio.

You can follow me on Twitter @sameritech Be well everyone. Enjoy Lynn’s shows.

All of the shows listed below and can be found in my an archive folder here.

4 Sep 2011
10 Sep 2011
11 Sep 2011
17 Sep 2011
24 Sep 2011
25 Sep 2011
1 Oct 2011
2 Oct 2011
8 Oct 2011
6 Nov 2011
12 Nov 2011
13 Nov 2011
19 Nov 2011
20 Nov 2011
26 Nov 2011
27 Nov 2011
3 Dec 2011, Partial Show
10 Dec 2011
11 Dec 2011
18 Dec 2011, – Lynn’s Final Show
26 Dec 2011, Mike Malloy Show mentioned Lynn’s passing at the start of his radio show.
27 Dec 2011, “Lynn Remembered” – Richard Bey/Alex Bennett Lynn Samuels Tribute Show (Thanks Amy W.)
**27 Dec, 2011, Amy Goodman made a short comment on Democracy Now regarding Lynn’s death. You can see it here, mentioned on the last minute of the show.
**29 Dec 2011, Mike Feder had a wonderful remembrance episode during his Progressive Radio Network “The Turning Point” show. Check it out. For those of you wondering, the final song Mike played on this show was Rufus Wainwright “Hallelujah”. Very nice closing to the show.
31 Dec 2011, Mike Feder did a tribute of Lynn during his show on SiriusXM. He did two hours of Lynn stories and taking calls.
1 Jan 2012, Lynn’s former WABC colleague Bob Grant had John Manelli on and took calls about Lynn.  If you missed it, the Podcast on the WABC website (starts 50 minutes into it). Thanks Eric!

December 26, 2011 Posted by | Radio, Sirius, Sirius Radio | 49 Comments

Smugmug 20% Off Coupon Code

I’ve tried trial versions of about a half-dozen photo sharing/storage sites and Smugmug is by far the best.  There are numerous reasons why I love Smugmug which I’ve listed below.  The age old saying is you get what you paid for. In the crowded field of online photo sharing services, Smugmug has been everything I’ve ever needed and then some.

If you want to try out the service free for 14-days and get 20% off a new membership, use this link: Sumgmug  coupon code

Hey, it’s free, and you don’t even need to provide a credit card. Why not give it a try?

Things I love about Smugmug and why I chose it over other competing services:

  • They allow you to try the service free for 14 days. You can try EVERY feature they offer without any restrictions
  • Your photos are safe and secure. They keep 4 backup copies of each photo in 3 states so you’ll always have access to them
  • You can lock galleries with passwords to keep them private
  • Smugmug doesn’t send you SPAM and there are NO ADS on the site
  • You can share your photos with friends & family without them having to register with Smugmug
  • A+ customer service. It’s fast, friendly, and professional
  • Basic account offers UNLIMITED storage
  • Prints can be ordered right from Smugmug. No need to get them ordered with a different company
  • Comments, tags, keywords, and compatibility with blogs and forums – very convenient!
  • Video clips are allowed with a Power User account
  • Very helpful and friendly forum called “Digital Grin” who can answer just about any photo related question you can think of
  • The company is FAMILY OWNED and not run by some internet conglomerate like Yahoo or Kodak
  • Company has always been profitable so there’s no risk of them going out of business then you lose all your files

November 4, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Tea Baggers can’t make up their mind

The Tea Baggers can’t make up their mind. The people at the DC rally today said government is too big and stay out of my wallet. The Tea Baggers outside Cape Canaveral today want more government money for NASA. So let me see if I understand this, it’s less government when it’s assisting the poor and providing unemployment and health benefits to those in need. It’s more government when it’s $$ for NASA, farmer subsidies, and it’s their job that’s being cut. Nice platform Tea Baggers.

April 15, 2010 Posted by | Barack Obama, Current Events, Florida, Money, News, Newspaper, Politics | Leave a comment

Let’s see how much coverage Haiti gets now

The next 24 hours will bring:

Breaking news announcements every 3 minutes on the 24-hour news networks with the fancy music and flashy graphics. OK people, time to move all your attention and resources away from Haiti, the next stop on our 2010 tour of sensational disaster news is… we’re headed to the South American paradise of Chile. The next 10,000 hours of CNN & MSNBC coverage (Not Fox News, they’re still bashing the left after the worthless “Health Care Summit”) will be non stop coverage of suffering and heartbreak experienced by the Chilean people.

George Clooney has just announced another celebrity 3-hour telethon scheduled for Friday to raise more for needy aid organizations who can’t manage to provide a tent or bottled water to victims 14 days after a disaster, even though they just raised 40 million dollars.

Oh, and we need the U.S. to immediately offer to help, even though we are gazillion dollars in debt, are fighting multiple wars, have a stretched military, corrupt politicians, and can’t provide health care to our own people without causing a person to declare bankruptcy.

Lastly, and most importantly, redirect your thoughts and prayers from Haiti to the Chilean people. Even though thoughts and prayers clearly did not prevent this disaster, or in any way warn the people it was coming, they are much needed now. And we need multiple theist organizations to send bibles, lots and lots of bibles, not food, water, or building materials. Just please hold off on the do-gooders who want to bring a better life to the Chilean children by taking them away from their parents, and bringing them to the good ole U.S.A.

All that and more, on the WXYZ news at 10.

February 27, 2010 Posted by | Current Events, News, Newspaper, Politics, Random, Religion | Leave a comment

Wii Curling Game (VIDEO): Play Winter Olympic Sports On Your Wii


Attention all Nintendo Wii owners…Yes, this is what you look like while playing your silly games.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

February 19, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Gloria Allred: Tiger Woods Apology ‘A Staged Stunt’


I agree Tiger’s speech today was a “staged public relations stunt.” but really, why does this bimbo think we should care that she could not control falling in love with Woods? I don’t care, you’re 15 minutes of fame is over, go back to being a nobody like the rest of us. Next thing you know, she’ll be saying she loved John Edwards too.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

February 19, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dear God, where were you when we needed you most?

This story John Travolta Flies Rations, Scientology Ministers Into Haiti, got me thinking.

Do these religious groups care about helping the people of Haiti or “saving” the people of Haiti?  It’s one thing to donate food and $$, it’s another to try and convert them when you get there.  Where were these religious groups BEFORE the earthquake struck?  Most were not there, why, because they didn’t care.  Since most all of the religious groups who are helping now, were doing absolutely nothing to help the people of Haiti BEFORE the earthquake struck, I can’t help but believe their true purpose now is to spread the word of their religion.

Travolta’s cult of Scientology is not the only one doing it, but for example, is there really a need to send “Scientology Ministers” to Haiti now?  Food, clothing, shelter, and infrastructure repair are what’s needed, not religion.  Why is religion not needed?  When the people of Haiti needed a God the most, about 30 seconds before the earth shook, no God was there to prevent this disaster.  However, now the religious groups are saying, God is here to help.  Really?  Even though he/she didn’t help me then, if I pray according to your religion now, I will helped.  Reminds me of the phrase “Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.”  Or as George Bush would say “There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”  Unfortunately for the Haitians, there’s a lot of foolery going around.

This post was not meant to offend you, or anyone else, you can believe whatever you want and are entitled to your opinion.  It’s just things like this make religion seem foolish to me.  We pray now in the hope our prayer will be answered, even though, it clearly didn’t prevent the disaster in the first place.  Yes, I know, it’s called faith.  I think a better word for it is credulity.

January 25, 2010 Posted by | Cult, Current Events, Military & War, Money, News, Newspaper, Politics, Random, Religion | Leave a comment

I guess Obama didn’t take away their guns

During the Presidential political campaign, the Tea Party activists and the McCain-Palin supporters loved to claim “Obama will take away your guns”.  Remember how the gun fanatics were carrying their guns openly to rallies to protest and intimidate the Obama supporters?  If you remember correctly, there was a huge run up of ammunition and gun sales after Obama was elected because the gun fanatics wanted to “stock up” on their weapons & ammo because they were going to be taken away once Obama was sworn in.  Ammunition was in short supply around the country.  But where is the mainstream media one year later to do a fact check on how many guns Obama took away from law-abiding citizens? Where is the mainstream media to document the many, many laws passed to take away the right to bear arms? The mainstream media is silent. Why, because they suck and because it didn’t happen.

The facts are, Obama took exactly zero guns away from law-abiding citizens since he was elected.  Fact is, Congress passed and Obama signed, zero laws related to taking away a person’s right to bear arms.  Matter of fact, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence gave Obama an “F” grade because he didn’t do anything they wanted.  Obama also didn’t do anything the right-wingers said he would do either.  You can read the full Brady Campaign press release here. As Alanis Morrissette would say, Isn’t It Ironic?

January 19, 2010 Posted by | Barack Obama, Current Events, Election 2008, John McCain, News, Politics, Random, Sarah Palin | Leave a comment

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