WASHINGTON — The Air Force announced today that it would no longer require recruits to become baptized Christians in order to graduate basic training following yet another bout of criticism over bias from Air Force leaders who identify as evangelicals.
Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson addressed the change in policy in a press conference at the Pentagon.
“After deep prayer and reflection, we have concluded that Jesus will just have to enter all of our new airmen’s hearts in His own way," Wilson said. "We pray for our Lord and Savior’s grace and forgiveness in this matter.”
The move comes amid increasing scrutiny from groups like the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) who say leaders are pushing their religious beliefs in inappropriate ways. By removing the baptism requirement, the Air Force hopes to tamp down mounting controversy.
The MRFF says there still is room for improvement.
“I mean, for goodness sake, the Air Force Academy – an engineering school that is supposed to mass produce pilots – has outsourced all science and engineering classes to Focus on the Family,” said MRFF President Mikey Weinstein, an academy graduate himself. “We’ve got a generation of aviators and potential astronauts who think that gravity is the devil trying to suck them down into hell and that Elijah’s magic chariot dust is what propels them into the air.”
The Air Force is exploring other moves to further address concerns of organizations like the MRFF. Proposed ideas include discontinuing punishments for airmen who do not attend Bible study on a weekly basis and no longer issuing chastity belts to females in the service.
“We’ll continue to seek guidance from our pastors, and we also intend to check the Constitution again to see if there’s an amendment about Jesus in there” said Wilson.