Saperstein: As both Jews and Americans, we understand the importance of religious pluralism, and we hope that those who hold significant positions within our country realize its value as well.
WASHINGTON, D.C., MAY 17, 2006 – We are deeply concerned about a report in the Air Force Times that an Air Force Major General is under investigation for using his military computer to seek donations for a Republican congressional candidate, thereby violating two separate Air Force regulations. Partisan politicking with government resources is bad enough, all the more so in the military which is meant to function free from politics. But we are especially concerned by the religious content of these emails, including a call for more “Christian men with integrity and military experience in Congress.”
The Major General’s email is in clear violation of military regulations, including improper use of a military computer and using one’s military position to solicit votes and contributions for a political candidate. We hope the Air Force leadership will recognize how insensitive and problematic it is for a high ranking general to acknowledge the use of religion as a reason to support a particular political candidate in a professional capacity. The explicit constitutional ban on religious tests for office is violated by this act, at least in spirit and possibly as a matter of law.
As both Jews and Americans, we understand the importance of religious pluralism, and we hope that those who hold significant positions within our country realize its value as well. This situation further proves the need for the Air Force Religious Guidelines, released this past February, as well as the need for more concrete action to eliminate religious intolerance within our military.
I trust Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne will move quickly to address this report, and to make clear that such politicking and such suggestions of religious preferences in political life have no place in the Air Force. I look forward to his reaction to this report, and to continued work in both the Air Force and other military branches to guarantee religious liberty and tolerance for all who serve our nation.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis.