Air Education and Training Command has suspended a training course that chaplains have taught for more than two decades at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., to new missile officers due to complaints that the course’s religious themes infringe on the rights of religious minorities and non-believers. Complaints came from outside groups, both secular and religious, as well as course participants, according to press reports. “We’re in the process of reviewing that training and we’ll make a determination whether or not to continue [it] or if it will be a different course,” said AETC spokesman Dave Smith, reported Military.com. The ethics course, known to some airmen as “Jesus Loves Nukes,” is intended to ease the missile launch officers’ concerns about releasing nuclear weapons. Training slides included Bible quotes and pictures of Christian saints and famous military leaders known for their faith. Course critics argue that any religious discussion about war should be done voluntarily and not as mandatory training. Conversely, others assert that chaplains, by right of their office, are free to invoke religious themes in the training, reported the Christian Post.
The Air Force will begin its 71st annual Operation Christmas Drop on Dec. 4. The weeklong exercise is a yearly tradition that delivers supplies such as food, fishing equipment, school books, and clothes to remote islands in the Pacific. It is the longest-running Department of Defense humanitarian mission.