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New Air Force Rules Cleared for Takeoff

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By Tony Perkins

Veterans’ Day may have been Tuesday, but it looks like the Air Force has a belated offering: more clarity in the debate over religious liberty. For two years, our friends in Congress have been calling on the branch to overhaul its language and better protect the freedoms our fliers are fighting to protect. Based on the latest news, it looks like the message is finally getting through to Air Force leaders, who just released a new document that, we hope, is a step in the right direction on an issue that should concern every American. In particular, the Air Force took aim at AFI 1-1, Sections 2.11 and 2.12, softening the tone that was immediately hostile to faith.

Now, under the new regulation, the branch has done away with the vague and confusing language, which shackled any Air Force leader from expressing their religious beliefs — even in an unofficial capacity. Several of our allies on the Hill, including House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Reps. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), Dr. John Fleming (R-La.), and Randy Forbes (R-Va.), have repeatedly called on the Air Force to revise their rules. Of course, we’ll only know what this means practically when leaders implement it.

“Congress made it clear in the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act that the Department of Defense needs to do more to protect the freedom of our service members to practice and express their religious beliefs while serving our country,” Sen. Lee said. “As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee who has worked for these protections, I am encouraged to see the Air Force reassessing their own standards to bring them closer to current law. I hope that these new regulations will be implemented with adherence to Congress’s intent of protecting the constitutional rights of Airmen.”

To nudge the branch along, Rep. Lamborn had offered an amendment to the Defense bill calling on the Pentagon and Air Force to revise their regulations on religious liberty. Yesterday, he was on “Washington Watch” to talk to me about these developments. (To listen, click here.) These brave men and women risk their lives to defend America — the least we can do is provide them the clarity and support their faith deserves.

Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law.

(Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)

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