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Culture Beat / June 21, 2016

Air Force Challenged for Ejecting Vet From Ceremony

First Liberty Institute gave Air Force leaders one week to issue a written apology.

First Liberty Institute, a legal organization, gave Air Force leaders one week to issue a written apology to retired Senior MSGT Oscar Rodriguez Jr. before it would pursue legal action over a flag retirement ceremony at which Rodriguez was forcibly removed for mentioning God. As Mark Alexander first wrote in April, “There has been yet another example of Barack Obama’s top-down effort to eradicate any reference to faith by military personnel.”

Rodriguez was invited to speak at the retirement ceremony of MSGT Chuck Roberson April 3. The U.S. military had stripped any mention of God in the retirement ceremony in 2005. But Roberson wanted the traditional ceremony — faith and all — just like he saw Rodriguez perform it a month before. This time, when Rodriguez mentioned the name of God, a group of maintenance personnel (not security) forcibly removed the veteran from the ceremony.

“The Air Force had no right to assault a citizen, much less a 33-year military veteran, because they didn’t want him to mention ‘God,’” said Mike Berry, military affairs director at First Liberty Institute. “Mr. Rodriguez has a constitutional right to free speech and religious expression, even on a military base. The military broke the law and abused its power. We expect the Air Force to hold those responsible accountable, and allow Mr. Rodriguez to continue honoring the flag and other veterans who have sacrificed for our country.”

It’ll be quite a fight, for the policies that seek to scrub the faith that sustains many a man and woman in uniform come straight from the commander in chief.

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