Following revised language of the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act, the Air Force has revised its policy on rules protecting religious expression by U.S. Airmen. With the reauthorization of the U.S. military, Congress “made it clear that…the Department of Defense needs to do more to protect the freedom…to practice and express their religious beliefs while serving”. With that understanding the Air Force has more closely aligned itself the current law, which aims to protect the Constitutional Rights of U.S. military forces.
The new policies do not force religion on any member of the Air Force, but instead afford those religious members the right to practice their religion freely and openly within the Air Force. Senator Mike Lee stated that this shift in policy is “critical to maintaining a strong and ready force.” By allowing American Airmen (and other military personnel) the Freedom to practice their religion, they will have a pillar of support, in that religious practice, which they will carry with them as they serve and protect the citizens of the United States.
These men and women are putting their lives on the line so that the people of the United States are able to enjoy the Freedoms the military has sworn to protect. So why should those serving not be allowed to practice these same Freedoms while they serve? The new direction by Congress has guaranteed that those in uniform are able to have the same Freedoms as those not in uniform back home. The new directives from Congress in the Defense Authorization Act does not discriminate against any religion, but does just what the First Amendment intends and allows for Freedom of Religion within the Air Force and the other Armed Services.
Laws like this are few and far between recently. With all the lawsuits and challenges to laws across the country which seek to deter the Government from recognizing that the population of the U.S. is, for the most part, a religious population, lawmakers are afraid to pass legislation protecting the Freedom of Religion. By passing this updated policy to Religious Freedom in the military, which maintains Government neutrality when it comes to expression of religion, Congress has demonstrated that it is possible – and practical – to allow for Freedom of Religion at all levels in the United States. Even thousands of feet above the Earth where America’s Airmen defend the Rights guaranteed by the Constitution to all Americans.