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
Join and support Military Religious Freedom Foundation
Join and support Freedom from Religion Foundation
Join and support American Atheists
Join and support Americans United for Separation of Church and State
Get involved with your local atheist, agnostic, humanist, or freethinking group.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Saturday, July 04, 2009
James Clavitt Jr., Fox News Senior Staff Writer
New York, N.Y.
Fox news has confirmed Alaska Governor Sarah Palin will resign her post as the state’s chief executive and will enter the lucrative porn industry of Southern California sometime in 2010. Larry Flynt staffers have confirmed Flynt has offered and Palin has accepted a large 8 figure salary to exclusively appear in print and film productions for Larry Flynt Publications. It’s unclear why the conservative Palin has accepted Flynt’s offer but sources close the negotiations have said Governor Palin wanted to create a situation that would keep her and her family financially secure and for years to come and Larry Flynt Publications submitted an offer that was hard to pass up. Todd Palin, the Governor’s husband, was initially furious but was persuaded to accept the offer after Flynt staffers estimated the video and print media demand would make Palin the most sought after actress in the history of film and year one sales profits would exceed $800 million dollars. Flynt reportedly also agreed to donate a large some of money to Mr. and Mrs. Palin’s favorite charities each of the next 3 years.
Additionally, Palin is expected to get a percentage of the video and print media sales in which she appears, which is said to be unprecedented in the adult film industry. Initial reports are she will receive as much as a 55% share of profit for each video sold and 75% for online video content. The print media share was estimated at 10%. Mr. Flynt, did not immediately return calls to his office but a spokesman for the adult media mogul said the deal was 99% complete but he could not give any more specifics because he was not permitted to release information until the contract was finalized.
James Stanton, editor of Adult Video News, said this agreement would be bigger than any contract ever signed in or out of the porn industry and that Palin demand is so high that sales could reach levels seen of Oscar winners in traditional film and print sales would eclipse demand for the Harry Potter book series. “We’re reaching a time when adult film is no longer taboo” Stanton said from his Los Angeles office. “Demand is high for anything Palin, film and print sales from a woman with the popularity and beauty queen caliber looks of Palin would be so high that something like this just might help get the country out of the recession”, said Stanton with a chuckle. Calls to Mr. and Mrs. Palin’s office were not immediately returned.
James Clavitt Jr. and Jessica Dupart, Fox News Senior Staff Writers contributed to this report
Copyright 2009, All Right Reserved
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Today I was listening to The Diane Rehm Show on NPR and finally one of the guests said what we all knew but were too politically correct to say. He said a portion of men like Sarah Palin and will vote for her because they have a crush on her and want to have sex with her. Well it’s about time someone had the balls to say it on national radio. And he’s absolutely correct.
Sarah Palin is attractive, she dresses nice (thanks to $150K+ in RNC handouts), she has nice makeup (thanks to $11K+ per week in RNC handouts), and she has a good figure despite downloading more babies than a pet rabbit. As for the men who who are sweet on her, hey, they are men with raging hormones well into their 70s.
Men don’t respect her foreign policy experience, there is none. Men don’t respect her knowledge of alternative forms of energy, she is the drill baby drill queen. Men don’t respect her for her Patriotism. Her husband has been an active member of anti-American Alaska groups who want Alaska to secede from the United States. Men don’t respect her for her extensive travels and all that she’s learned around the world. She just got her passport a little more than a year ago. Men don’t respect her for being close to Russia and keeping an eye on Vladimir Putin. She never met the guy and the Alaskan National Guard who “watches over Russia” is smaller than the LAPD. Men don’t respect her for her ethics. She used inappropriate influence to get her brother-in-law fired. Men don’t respect her for her support of religious freedom. She is intolerant of anyone and everyone who does not believe in her religion or anyone who does not believe in religion at all. Men don’t respect her for her anti-choice views on abortion. She believes a woman who is raped must have the child of the man who raped her. She also does not support an abortion when the life of the mother is in danger. The only thing men do respect Sarah Palin for is her obsession with guns and killing things. Men like guns and men like to shoot moving objects. Men all too often think with the head in their pants and not the head attached to their other neck. As a result, some men in this country will vote with the head in their pants and not the head on their shoulders.
Sarah Palin is nothing but a bobble-headed beauty queen and a sex object for men. She is not qualified to be Vice President or President and she, John McCain, and the GOP will lose the election on November 4th. Then the men of this country will have to find another sex-kitten to wank off to because I don’t think Sarah Palin will use her fading star status to sign a contract with Playboy magazine. The men of this country will have to go back to watching late night titty shows on Showtime and Cinemax.
Christopher Hitchens, writing for Slate.com, endorsed Obama-Biden today and called Senator McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin a sick joke and a disgrace. Below is the article.
Vote for Obama
McCain lacks the character and temperament to be president. And Palin is simply a disgrace.
By Christopher Hitchens
I used to nod wisely when people said: “Let’s discuss issues rather than personalities.” It seemed so obvious that in politics an issue was an issue and a personality was a personality, and that the more one could separate the two, the more serious one was. After all, in a debate on serious issues, any mention of the opponent’s personality would be ad hominem at best and at worst would stoop as low as ad feminam.
At my old English boarding school, we had a sporting saying that one should “tackle the ball and not the man.” I carried on echoing this sort of unexamined nonsense for quite some time—in fact, until the New Hampshire primary of 1992, when it hit me very forcibly that the “personality” of one of the candidates was itself an “issue.” In later years, I had little cause to revise my view that Bill Clinton’s abysmal character was such as to be a “game changer” in itself, at least as important as his claim to be a “new Democrat.” To summarize what little I learned from all this: A candidate may well change his or her position on, say, universal health care or Bosnia. But he or she cannot change the fact—if it happens to be a fact—that he or she is a pathological liar, or a dimwit, or a proud ignoramus. And even in the short run, this must and will tell.
On “the issues” in these closing weeks, there really isn’t a very sharp or highly noticeable distinction to be made between the two nominees, and their “debates” have been cramped and boring affairs as a result. But the difference in character and temperament has become plainer by the day, and there is no decent way of avoiding the fact. Last week’s so-called town-hall event showed Sen. John McCain to be someone suffering from an increasingly obvious and embarrassing deficit, both cognitive and physical. And the only public events that have so far featured his absurd choice of running mate have shown her to be a deceiving and unscrupulous woman utterly unversed in any of the needful political discourses but easily trained to utter preposterous lies and to appeal to the basest element of her audience. McCain occasionally remembers to stress matters like honor and to disown innuendoes and slanders, but this only makes him look both more senile and more cynical, since it cannot (can it?) be other than his wish and design that he has engaged a deputy who does the innuendoes and slanders for him.
I suppose it could be said, as Michael Gerson has alleged, that the Obama campaign’s choice of the word erratic to describe McCain is also an insinuation. But really, it’s only a euphemism. Anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear had to feel sorry for the old lion on his last outing and wish that he could be taken somewhere soothing and restful before the night was out. The train-wreck sentences, the whistlings in the pipes, the alarming and bewildered handhold phrases—”My friends”—to get him through the next 10 seconds. I haven’t felt such pity for anyone since the late Adm. James Stockdale humiliated himself as Ross Perot’s running mate. And I am sorry to have to say it, but Stockdale had also distinguished himself in America’s most disastrous and shameful war, and it didn’t qualify him then and it doesn’t qualify McCain now.
The most insulting thing that a politician can do is to compel you to ask yourself: “What does he take me for?” Precisely this question is provoked by the selection of Gov. Sarah Palin. I wrote not long ago that it was not right to condescend to her just because of her provincial roots or her piety, let alone her slight flirtatiousness, but really her conduct since then has been a national disgrace. It turns out that none of her early claims to political courage was founded in fact, and it further turns out that some of the untested rumors about her—her vindictiveness in local quarrels, her bizarre religious and political affiliations—were very well-founded, indeed. Moreover, given the nasty and lowly task of stirring up the whack-job fringe of the party’s right wing and of recycling patent falsehoods about Obama’s position on Afghanistan, she has drawn upon the only talent that she apparently possesses.
It therefore seems to me that the Republican Party has invited not just defeat but discredit this year, and that both its nominees for the highest offices in the land should be decisively repudiated, along with any senators, congressmen, and governors who endorse them.
I used to call myself a single-issue voter on the essential question of defending civilization against its terrorist enemies and their totalitarian protectors, and on that “issue” I hope I can continue to expose and oppose any ambiguity. Obama is greatly overrated in my opinion, but the Obama-Biden ticket is not a capitulationist one, even if it does accept the support of the surrender faction, and it does show some signs of being able and willing to profit from experience. With McCain, the “experience” is subject to sharply diminishing returns, as is the rest of him, and with Palin the very word itself is a sick joke. One only wishes that the election could be over now and a proper and dignified verdict rendered, so as to spare democracy and civility the degradation to which they look like being subjected in the remaining days of a low, dishonest campaign.
Christopher Hitchens is a columnist for Vanity Fair.
Article URL: http://www.slate.com/id/2202163/
We all heard the Palin’s attempt to beef up her “executive experience” credentials the other night when she said “That luxury jet was over the top, I put it on eBay.” Well it turns out that wasn’t a total lie, but it does show the lengths the Republican Party will go to deceive and manipulate facts to make Palin sound like she is more important than she really is. It is true the plane was put on eBay, but it didn’t sell, so it was sold at an ordinary brick-and-mortar brokerage. So I guess my question is, why insinuate you sold it on eBay? So you listed something on eBay, good for you, so what. Exactly how does that make you qualified to be Vice President? News flash…it doesn’t. If you’re going to take the time to tell a national audience you’re using eBay, at least give them the full story and stop trying to deceive the American people.
John McCain on the other hand, chose to go above and beyond deception, and instead just outright lie. Here’s what Senator McCain said: “You know what I enjoyed the most? She took the luxury jet that was purchased by her predecessor and sold it on eBay — and made a profit.” Does the Republican party really believe they can continue to deceive and lie and get elected? Apparently so and it’s simply shameful
Here’s the full article as reported on CNN.com.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (CNN) — Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin bolstered her fiscal-conservative credentials early in her term by putting her predecessor’s state jet up for auction online.
“That luxury jet was over the top,” she told Republican National Convention delegates when she accepted the party’s vice presidential nomination Wednesday night. “I put it on eBay.”
Since Palin was chosen as Arizona Sen. John McCain’s running mate last week, the story has become a cornerstone of the Republican effort to paint Palin as a reformer who took on her own party establishment.
“How many saw her speech a couple of nights ago? Wasn’t it fabulous?” McCain said Friday during a campaign stop in Cedarburg, Wisconsin. “You know what I enjoyed the most? She took the luxury jet that was purchased by her predecessor and sold it on eBay — and made a profit.”
But it turns out the twin-engine Westwind II was a tough sell on the Web — and the state eventually pulled it offline and sold it through an ordinary brick-and-mortar brokerage, for a loss, a spokeswoman said Friday.
“Governor Palin has been correct in saying that she put the plane on eBay,” McCain campaign spokeswoman Maria Comella told CNN. “They did end up selling it for $2.1 million. but not on eBay.”
Palin’s predecessor, Frank Murkowski, bought the jet for $2.7 million in 2005. The following year, Palin unseated Murkowski in the state’s Republican primary and became governor: Upon taking office, she wanted to unload what former aide Meg Stapleton called “a symbol of corruption.”
Stapleton told CNN that Murkowski paid too much for the jet, and that it was costing taxpayers money just sitting in the hangar.
“Eventually you had to concede and say, ‘How often are we going to pay these bills and waste more state dollars?’ ” she said.
When putting it on eBay failed, aircraft broker Rob Heckmann was called in to sell the jet. Businessman Larry Reynolds bought the five-passenger jet for sold for $2.1 million. And Reynolds is now seeking another $50,000 from the state for unexpected maintenance issues with the aircraft.
– CNN’s Sara Lane contributed to this report
ST. PAUL, Minn.
updated 12:56 a.m. MT, Wed., Sept. 3, 2008
Since Sunday night, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has been holed up in her suite in the Hilton Minneapolis while a parade of Sen. John McCain’s top advisers have briefed her on the nuances of his policy positions, national politics and, above all, how to introduce herself to the national audience she will address Wednesday night at the Republican convention.
Sitting around a dining room table, the McCain team has talked to her about Iraq, energy and the economy, but has focused more on what she should do during her speech, rather than what she should say. According to Foxnews.com, McCain has reportedly asked Sarah Palin to give her convention speech braless to appeal to the husbands of Hillary Clinton voters. The unorthodox approach is intended to try and appeal to men who can in-turn convince women to vote for McCain-Palin in November. McCain campaign manager Rick Davis says this will be her main opportunity to shape the way she is viewed by male voters. Not anticipating that McCain would choose a woman as his running mate, the speech that was prepared in advance was “very masculine,” according to campaign manager Rick Davis, and “so we had to come up with a new approach.”
By all accounts Palin has thrown herself enthusiastically into preparations for her prime-time debut as well as for her first campaign trip without McCain, expected to be next week. On Tuesday afternoon, she practiced her first run-through of the speech in a see-through top before an audience that included strategists Steve Schmidt, Nicolle Wallace and Mark Salter, who all offered suggestions.
Staff writer Peter Kling contributed to this report