Uniform Religion

The Air Force has addressed the issue of religious proselytizing that was occurring when outgoing Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz assumed his post in 2008, Schwartz told the Daily Report. During a mid July exit interview, Schwartz said his concern was that “there were people in leadership roles—commanders’ roles—who did not appreciate sufficiently . . . the need to exercise care in how they articulated their faith.” While everyone has the right to religious freedom, Schwartz said he was worried that when those with command authority “appear to promote” certain beliefs, those under their command could feel they’d be “at a disadvantage if they did not align accordingly.” Service members must feel free to exercise their own religious beliefs “without concern for whether it will affect their promotability, their assignments, whether they will remain equally competitive with others, and so on,” asserted Schwartz. These are “serious matters that relate to unit cohesion and discipline” and “commanders need to be smart about this,” he said. Schwartz thinks the Air Force has “sensitized our commanders to their obligations in this regard.” He added, “I think that’s healthy for the Air Force.”