According to the Washington Post, "(t)he Air Force, facing a lawsuit over alleged proselytizing, has withdrawn a document that permitted chaplains to evangelize military personnel who were not affiliated with any faith ..." More on the flip.
"The document was circulated at the Air Force Chaplain School until eight weeks ago. It was a "code of ethics" for chaplains that included the statement "I will not proselytize from other religious bodies, but I retain the right to evangelize those who are not affiliated."" In a July 12 New York Times article, Brig. Gen. Cecil R. Richardson, the Air Force's deputy chief of chaplains, was quoted as saying: "We will not proselytize, but we reserve the right to evangelize the unchurched."
This withdrawal is apparently in response to a lawsuit filed against the Academy by Mikey Weinstein, a cadet, who had this to say to the Post: "They say the bad guys we're fighting, the jihadists, represent a theocratic, fascistic movement," Weinstein said. "If the United States Air Force, probably the most technologically lethal organization ever assembled by man, has a policy of evangelizing 'the unchurched,' you tell me how that makes us look."
This is the evangelical response. ""Mikey Weinstein might not like it, but it is the job of an evangelical Christian chaplain to evangelize," said Tom Minnery, vice president of public policy for the Colorado-based Focus on the Family. "It's protected by the First Amendment's guarantee of free exercise of religion.""
It may be the "calling" of evangelicals to proselytize (and I would like to see the precise wording of God's communications to them), but it is not their job in the Air Force. Their job is to counsel people who ask for counselling. And I am not heartened by their conclusion that while it is not okay to proselytize people of other religions, it is perfectly okay to annoy the Hell (literally) out of people who think religion is a regressive and disruptive waste of valuable time. Are we going to have to form the Church of the Atheist to get them to leave people like me alone?