Guest / Limited Access /

In its efforts to create an environment free of religious harassment at its installations worldwide, the U.S. Air Force has said that it is withdrawing and reviewing earlier ethics guidelines permitting evangelism by chaplains.

The earlier guidelines, contained in a January code of ethics statement issued by the Air Force Chaplain Service, stated: "I will not actively proselytize from other religious bodies. However, I retain the right to instruct and/or evangelize those who are not affiliated."

Air Force officials are concerned that such openness to evangelism contradicts new interim guidelines on religion that were created in the wake of recurring complaints that evangelicals at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs had overstepped their bounds and promoted their own beliefs too aggressively at the installation.

"The Chaplain Service code of ethics was withdrawn for further study on August 10, 2005, as part of the Air Force's overall consideration of the interim religious guidelines," said Air Force spokeswoman Jennifer Stephens. "We expect a code of ethics will be reissued when that process is complete."

But observers say the Air Force is going too far.

"There is no question the commanders should be sensitive to the religious needs and feelings of all members," says Jerry White, a retired major general in the Air Force reserve who once taught at the academy and now serves as president emeritus of the Navigators, a Colorado Springs-based organization with a global military ministry.

"It is all too easy to characterize all religious interactions as proselytizing," says White, "and to restrict the discussion of religious matters between individuals is an infringement of basic free speech and First Amendment rights."

Others ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedI Was Saved at Open Communion
I Was Saved at Open Communion
Having the choice of taking Communion made it clear to me that I was hungry for Christ.
TrendingMark Driscoll Steps Down While Mars Hill Investigates Charges
Mark Driscoll Steps Down While Mars Hill Investigates Charges
(UPDATED) Driscoll offers 8-step solution to followers: 'Current climate is not healthy for me or for this church.'
Editor's PickDesire and Deliverance
Desire and Deliverance
Three new documentaries examine Christian faith, homosexuality, and the question of change.
Comments
Christianity Today
New Air Force Religion Guidelines May Restrict Evangelism
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

October 2005

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.