Jewish Groups Recommend Air Force Training on Religion
New York, NY, June 14, 2006 ... Leading national Jewish organizations have joined in submitting a series of recommendations to the U.S. Air Force to assist in implementing a training program for Air Force personnel pursuant to the recently issued Guidelines on the Free Exercise of Religion in the military.
In a letter sent to General Robert R. Allardice, Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower and Personnel, the Jewish groups commended the Air Force for the guidelines and the development of the training program. Both initiatives have substantially alleviated concerns that followed reports of religious proselytization and anti-Semitism at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.
The letter was sent in response to Gen. Allardice's written request to the Jewish groups to share their views concerning training methods to implement the Guidelines.
The groups offered a series of recommendations, including:
The training program should draw on the Guidelines on Religion in the Federal Workplace, as well as on materials from AJC's Hands Across the Campus diversity training program and ADL's A WORLD Of DIFFERENCE Institute, which are used to assist high school and college students in dealing with challenges of living in a diverse environment.
Urge senior officers to refrain from discussing their religious beliefs with junior officers or enlisted men because of a concern that the discussion of religion will be perceived as inherently coercive by the junior servicemen;
Acknowledge that where such discussion is, in fact, truly voluntary, air force personnel can discuss religious subjects amongst themselves;
Provide for a grievance and complaint procedure that can be utilized by servicemen without fear that complaining about an incident of religious coercion will result in any retribution or harm to their careers;
Maintain limits on the ability of military chaplains to invoke particularistic prayers at mandatory service personnel assemblies.
Training materials should recognize the important differences between the ordinary workplace and the military.
The letter to General Allardice was signed by the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress, the Anti-Defamation League and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.