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Air Force General Accused Of Violating DoD Policies On Religious Proselytizing
A group of U.S. Air Force officers, enlisted personnel, and civilian employees are calling for an investigation into the installation commander of Edwards Air Force Base in California, accusing him of violating Defense Department policies on religious proselytizing.
On Sunday, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation demanded that Defense Secretary James N. Mattis “immediately and comprehensively” investigate Air Force Brig. Gen. E. John Teichert.
The foundation, which seeks to maintain the separation of church and state in the military, provided reporters with a copy of the demand Monday.
At issue is Teichert’s website, called Prayer at Lunchtime for the United States, in which the commander says he encourages “Bible-believing Americans to take time to specifically pray for our nation at lunchtime every day.”
The foundation has asked the Defense Department to determine whether Teichert’s conduct “interferes with or violates the civil liberties of service members and civilians under his command” or “the diversity or equal opportunities of service members and civilians under his command.”
Michael Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said his organization represents 41 “client complainants,” most of whom are practicing Christians. The group also includes Muslims, Jews, Hindus and atheists, he said.
In the group’s demand letter, foundation attorney Donald Rehkopf accused Teichert of “using both his military rank as well as his position and status as an Air Force officer to aggressively promote his brand of religion — clearly giving the appearance if not outright impression that he, in his official status, is endorsing if not outright proselytizing” his religion.
Teichert’s publicly posted remarks “demonstrate his discriminatory animus and overt condemnation of all personnel under his command who do not share his personal and particular dominionistic brand of Christianity,” the complaint letter said.
Teichert commands the 412th Test Wing and is also the installation commander, according to the Edwards website.
On his religious website, Teichert goes only by “John,” and writes that he is an active duty brigadier general who has served in the Air Force since 1994, “and who was saved by grace through faith in Christ in 2004.”
“The Lord has blessed his career while burdening his heart with the need for our nation to return to its Christian foundation,” his biography on the website says.
The website includes a prayer list, which includes “President Trump, Vice President Pence, and the Trump administration,” “a return to our Biblical foundation,” “recognition of God’s preeminence in our lives and in our land” and “the unborn,” among others.
The website also links to a 2014 interview that uses Teichert’s full name and discusses his military career. In it, he says, “We have allowed our country to slip away from its founding Christian principles while it has become increasingly intolerant of Christianity.”
Requests for comment by representatives of Edwards Air Force Base and the Pentagon were not answered Monday.
©2018 Los Angeles Times. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Investigation shows Lt. Col. in charge of Corps' 1st Recon was fired for alleged 'misconduct' but has not been charged
The Marine lieutenant colonel removed from command of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion in May was ousted over alleged "misconduct" but has not been charged with a crime, Task & Purpose has learned.
Lt. Col. Francisco Zavala, 42, who was removed from his post by the commanding general of 1st Marine Division on May 7, has since been reassigned to the command element of 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, and a decision on whether he will be charged is "still pending," MEF spokeswoman 1st Lt. Virginia Burger told Task & Purpose last week.
"We are not aware of any ongoing or additional investigations of Lt. Col. Zavala at this time," MEF spokesman 2nd Lt. Brian Tuthill told Task & Purpose on Monday. "The command investigation was closed May 14 and the alleged misconduct concerns Articles 128 and 133 of the UCMJ," Tuthill added, mentioning offenses under military law that deal with assault and conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.
"There is a period of due process afforded the accused and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty," he said.
When asked for an explanation for the delay, MEF officials directed Task & Purpose to contact 1st Marine Division officials, who did not respond before deadline.
The investigation of Zavala, completed on May 3 and released to Task & Purpose in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, showed that he had allegedly acted inappropriately. The report also confirmed some details of his wife's account of alleged domestic violence that Task & Purpose first reported last month.
A Marine Raider convicted in a North Carolina court of misdemeanor assault for punching his girlfriend won't spend any time in jail unless he violates the terms of his probation, a court official told Task & Purpose.
On Monday, Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans received a suspended sentence of 60 days in jail, said Samantha Dooies, an assistant to the New Hanover County District Attorney.
Evans must complete 18 months of unsupervised probation, pay $8,000 in restitution, complete a domestic violence offenders program, and he cannot have any contact with his former girlfriend, Dooies told Task & Purpose. The special operations Marine is also only allowed to have access to firearms though the military while on base or deployed.
That's right, Superman is (at least temporarily) trading in his red cape, blue tights, and red silk underpants for a high and tight, a skivvy shirt and, well, he's still rocking silkies.