SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS Tables
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[H.A.S.C. No. 10970]
THE RELIGIOUS CLIMATE AT THE U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY
MILITARY PERSONNEL SUBCOMMITTEE
COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED NINTH CONGRESS
JUNE 28, 2005
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MILITARY PERSONNEL SUBCOMMITTEE
JOHN M. MCHUGH, New York, Chairman
JO ANN DAVIS, Virginia
JOHN KLINE, Minnesota
THELMA DRAKE, Virginia
MICHAEL CONAWAY, Texas
JIM SAXTON, New Jersey
WALTER B. JONES, North Carolina
JIM RYUN, Kansas
ROBIN HAYES, North Carolina
VIC SNYDER, Arkansas
MARTY MEEHAN, Massachusetts
LORETTA SANCHEZ, California
ROBERT ANDREWS, New Jersey
SUSAN A. DAVIS, California
MARK UDALL, Colorado
CYNTHIA MCKINNEY, Georgia
MIKE HIGGINS, Professional Staff Member
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCDEBRA WADA, Professional Staff Member
JENNIFER GUY, Staff Assistant
C O N T E N T S
CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF HEARINGS
Tuesday, June 28, 2005, The Religious Climate at the U.S. Air Force Academy
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
TUESDAY, JUNE 28, 2005
THE RELIGIOUS CLIMATE AT THE U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY
STATEMENTS PRESENTED BY MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
Drake, Hon. Thelma D., a Representative from Virginia
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Snyder, Hon. Vic, a Representative from Arkansas, Ranking Member, Military Personnel Subcommittee
Brady, Lt. Gen. Roger A., Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, Headquarters, U.S. Air Force
Leslie, Rev. Dr. Kristen, Asst. Prof. of Pastoral Care and Counseling, Yale Divinity School, and Group Leader, Yale Divinity School Graduate Students Group, U.S. Air Force Academy
Williamson, Chaplain Jack D., Col. (Ret.), Evangelical Friends Church, Executive Director, National Conference on Ministry to the Armed Forces, U.S. Air Force
McHugh, Hon. John M., a Representative from New York, Chairman, Military Personnel Subcommittee
Morton, Chaplain Capt. Melinda, U.S. Air Force
Snyder, Hon. Vic
Weida, Brig. Gen. Johnny A., 34th Training Wing Commander and Commandant of Cadets, U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Air Force
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DOCUMENTS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD:
Statement of the Anti-Defamation League on the Religious Climate at the U.S. Air Force Academy
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD:
[There were no Questions submitted.]
THE RELIGIOUS CLIMATE AT THE U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY
House of Representatives,
Committee on Armed Services,
Military Personnel Subcommittee,
Washington, DC, Tuesday, June 28, 2005.
The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 2 p.m. in room 2118, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Thelma D. Drake (member of the subcommittee) presiding.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. THELMA D. DRAKE, A REPRESENTATIVE FROM VIRGINIA
Mrs. DRAKE. Today the subcommittee will turn its attention to the religious climate at the United States Air Force Academy, an issue of increasing concern over the past two years.
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Accordingly, the subcommittee acted with considerable urgency to convene this hearing as soon as possible following the release of two reports addressing the Academy's religious climate this past Wednesday, June 22, 2005. We are fortunate to hear the testimony from the leaders of the teams that produced both of these reports; one by the Headquarters Air Force Review Group that visited the Academy during the period of May 10 to 13, 2005, and another by the National Conference on Ministry to the Armed Forces that visited the Academy during the period of June 7 and 8, 2005.
In addition, we shall hear testimony from the leader of another group, Yale Divinity School graduate students, that visited the Academy last year during the period of June 22nd through the 28th, 2004. The release of these two reports was awaited with considerable anticipation by many Members of Congress and religious organizations across the Nation.
Since the first hint of religious intolerance and excessive religious influence by faculty and staff during the spring of 2004 and the allegations of abusive and coercive proselytizing that followed, the Air Force Academy has been struggling to define the problem and develop an effective response.
Unfortunately, the two most recently released reports tend to confirm the press accounts that the Academy community is not as sensitive and accommodating to minority religious beliefs as we would like to hope.
Additionally, the team found some evidence of overreaching by faculty and staff in the expression of personal religious beliefs from positions of authority. It is important to note that the Academy was well aware of many of these concerns very early in the process and was able to respond with corrective action because it was the Academy that identified the problems.
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It would be difficult to criticize the corrective actions taken by the Air Force, because they were honest efforts made in a timely manner. However, the Air Force Academy is confronting a series of very difficult issues. One only has to recount the many similar points of friction over religious issues that periodically appear across our Nation to understand the challenge facing the Academy.
The balance between religious freedom and sensitivity to the religious views of other faiths is a frequent point of debate. But it strikes me that the level of difficulty in finding the right balance is particularly acute at a place like the Air Force Academy where a diverse population is brought together under stressful conditions.
But I am confident that a balance can be found, and that every expectation of the Founding Fathers for religious freedom to exist in harmony with religious tolerance and accommodation can be fulfilled.
It is absolutely critical that we succeed in finding the balance at the Academy because we cannot expect to develop officers with the values and moral strength that we treasure in our military leaders unless they openly engage views on faith with their peers and increase awareness and respect for diverse cultures and beliefs.
The subcommittee's task today is to explore the ways to restore the spiritual balance within the Academy community. I am confident that we will learn today that the Air Force is committed to finding the formula that meets the expectation of most Americans, and I can assure the Air Force that this subcommittee is prepared to meet the challenge with them.
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I would like to notify Members that I intend to ask unanimous consent for Members not on the subcommittee and not on the full committee to participate.
Doctor Snyder, did you have an opening statement you would like to make?
STATEMENT OF HON. VIC SNYDER, A REPRESENTATIVE FROM ARKANSAS, RANKING MEMBER, MILITARY PERSONNEL SUBCOMMITTEE
Dr. SNYDER. Thank you, Madam Chairman. Thanks to you for participating in this hearing today. I also want to acknowledge the efforts of Chairman McHugh, who was unable to be here because of a commitment back home. But he was instrumental in setting up this hearing, as he has been in supporting Congresswoman Sanchez' efforts to reform the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and improve the environment at the Academy with regard to the sexual assaults.
I am one of thoseI think we are lucky to be having these kinds of problems to work on. We could be in countries that had much more dramatic kinds of issues in terms of religious expression. This is one of these situations that this tension will never go awayyou know, knock on wood, it will never go away as long as we are the great democracy that we are, that there is the tension between the free exercise of religion and not having a government-established religion.
In this particular environment of the Air Force Academy, it is a home, it is a college, it is a public forum for expression. It is a military base, it is a place of work. And all of this is squeezed together, and it is run by those frailest of creatures, human beings.
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And so I think this search for this balance, this looking for baby bear's porridge that is just right, is going to be the challenge of our democracy. I appreciate the work that the three of you have done in helping your country and this institution find that balance and find the respect that we all want.
So I look forward to your testimony and thank you, Madam Chairman.
[The prepared statement Dr. Snyder can be found in the Appendix on page 45.]
Mrs. DRAKE. Thank you, Dr. Snyder. I would like to welcome our panel.
First is Lieutenant General Roger A. Brady, U.S. Air Force, Deputy Chief of Staff For Personnel, Headquarters, United States Air Force. He is the team chief, Headquarters Air Force Review Group; was with the U.S. Air Force site visit on May 10th through the 13th, 2005.
Next is Chaplain Jack D. Williamson, Colonel, U.S. Air Force retired, Evangelical Friends Church, Executive Director, National Conference on Ministry to the Armed Forces, and was the team coordinator, National Conference on Ministry to the Armed Forces's team, U.S. Air Force Academy site visit June 7 to 8, 2005.
And Reverend Dr. Kristen Leslie, Assistant Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling, Yale Divinity School, and Group Leader, Yale Divinity School Graduate Students Group, U.S. Air Force Academy site visit July 22 through the 28th, 2004.
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So, General Brady, please begin.
STATEMENT OF LT. GEN. ROGER A. BRADY, DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF FOR PERSONNEL, HEADQUARTERS, U.S. AIR FORCE
General BRADY. Thank you very much, Madam Chair, Dr. Snyder, committee Members and other Members of the House. Thank you for this opportunity to discuss this very important issue.
Your support of our airmen is greatly appreciated, and we thank you for your continuing leadership. Respect is the very foundation of our core values and the culture of airmen. Whether we are talking about religion, race, gender or heritage, mutual respect is what enables us to do our job defending this country.
Instances of disrespect, no matter how unintentional and regardless of their frequency of occurrence, are wrong and incompatible with the conduct of our mission. As you know, allegations of religious disrespect at the USAFA prompted Acting Secretary of the Air Force, Michael Dominguez, and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General John Jumper, to direct an assessment of the religious climate of our Academy.
Last month I led a cross-functional team to conduct this climate assessment at the Air Force Academy. My team was comprised of representatives from the Air Force Secretariat, the Air Staff, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Air Force Chaplaincy, and the U.S. Naval Academy.
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We first spent a week reviewing Department of Defense and Air Force policy, reviewing media reports and previous Academy-related assessments before proceeding to the Academy.
From 10 to 13 May, we did proceed to check the pulse of our Academy on this issue. We talked to over 300 people, including key leadership of personnel, faculty, staff, and cadets and a variety of focus groups and personal one-on-one interviews.
Additionally, we reviewed Academy surveys, looked at the Chaplaincy and its programs, and reviewed the complaint mechanisms of the Academy and its educational programs. Subsequent to our visit, we also conducted interviews with several people who were not at the Academy while we were there.
These included Chaplain Melinda Morton of the U.S. Air Force Academy; Mr. Mikey Weinstein, a 1977 graduate of the Academy; and Dr. Leslie, who is with us today.
In addition, Secretary Dominguez requested and received an independent review, as you have noted, of a team from the National Conference on Ministry of the Armed Forces, led by Mr. Jack Williamson.
Our charter, as I said, was to take the pulse on this issue. We were not there to investigate individual behavior, per se; however, we made it clear to the people we talked to that if they provided us with specific information about particular events, we would refer that information to appropriate authorities, and we did so.
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The Air Force Academy, we found, with Superintendent Lieutenant General J.R. Rosa at the helm, is aggressively working with the issue of religious respect.
As part of an ongoing effort to address the whole human relations climate, known as the Agenda for Change, General Rosa began to drill down into survey data that he had, and picked up on an area of wider concern that might not have otherwise been obvious. He saw that some perceived an environment of religious bias, and he and his staff immediately began addressing that issue.
As we talked to people, we heard a wide range of views. They ranged from concern over perceived bias to concern over the Air Force's possible reaction or overreaction to the bias, to some people who had a complete lack of awareness that there was an issue.
In our report, I identified nine specific findings and nine recommendations. The findings can be summarized in three general areas:
First, some Academy practices made some groups feel the Academy was not addressing their religious needs. This was particularly true of groups who were less numerically represented.
Second, there is the ongoing challenge of dealing with 18- to 22-year-olds, and ensuring they understand the values of our Air Force; in this case, most notably, understanding they must respect the rights of others to have beliefs different from their own. Religious slurs and disparaging remarks are not a debatable issue, period. When disrespectful behavior is discovered on any subject, we make it clear that we will not and do not tolerate such actions in our Air Force, but it is something that we have to address each year as new airman come into our Air Force.
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Finally, there was a lack of awareness on the part of some faculty and staff, and perhaps cadets in positions of authority, as to what constitutes appropriate expressions of faith, particularly in this setting, in superior-subordinate relationships in a government institution. We found that the leadership of USAFA has addressed the issue aggressively and has deployed some initial training regarding religious respect. It is a significant first effort, and some more is in development as we speak today. Let me discuss in a little more detail some of the recommendations.
Secretary Dominguez asked me to ask myself throughout this process to look at how the issues and recommendations I found were applicable to the rest of the Air Force. Lessons learned in any organization, particularly as they relate to our relationships with each other, are almost always relevant to the whole force. And I made these recommendations to the entire Air Force.
We found that the policy guidance that we have is fine, as far as it goes. But it does not adequately cover the full dimension of the issue. Although it covers basic issues such as accommodation, discrimination, and free exercise of religion, it does not provide useful operational guidance to commanders regarding what is and is not appropriate in the area of religious expression, and we need to provide better guidance there.
I have no reason to believe that people that were doing things that were inappropriate were doing so maliciously. In fact, I believe they thought they were acting with the best of intentions toward the cadets. However, in some cases they were wrong. It is a difficult subject but we have already begun development of this guidance.
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We also need to enforce guidance and clarify the guidance regarding endorsement and advertising with the groups that visit our bases, and ensure their practices comply with our values of respecting diversity of beliefs.
There are religious groups that come on all of our bases, not just Air Force bases but military bases around the world, and provide religious education to our people. We need to ensure that all of those groups, whether Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, et cetera, understand and adhere to our values regarding diversity of belief.
Consistent with what we found at the Air Force Academy, we are also asking our commanders to make sure they pay particular attention to policy regarding accommodations. As they plan operations, exercises, and the various events associated with their missions, they must think about the various diverse faith and belief systems of their command, and see if there are accommodations they can and should make up front.
There is also a need for developing a wider cultural awareness, both internal to the Air Force and external, in our deployed environment. We learned after 9/11 that we as a military, as the Department of Defense, are probably not as culturally aware as we ought to be. We need to understand better the role of religion and culture more broadly in the way people think, act, and make decisions. That is important for us both internally in a diverse force and in the deployed environment. It is also important as we work with coalition partners around the world. The Academy provides a large segment of the officers that lead these diverse organizations.
For all of these reasons, it is imperative that USAFA develop a more integrated plan to work cultural and religious awareness into every aspect of what they do, in terms of athletic, academic and military programs. And we will provide oversight from the Air Staff to help the USAFA form an interfaith ecumenical team, taking advantage of expertise in this area from outside the Department of Defense to develop this plan.
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This integration also applies to USAFA's complaint mechanisms. Of course, there is always the chain of command and the inspector general, but there is also the military Equal Opportunity Office and the Equal Employment Office. I believe this menu of complaint mechanisms may be confusing to the customer, so the Academy is going to give us a plan for how they will provide a single point of contact for complaints about a cultural or climate issue.
We are also saying the Academy needs to continuein fact the whole Air Force needs to bolster our internal controls and our surveys. As you may know, we conduct climate surveys on a regular basis. We need to make sure we are asking the right questions with specific attention paid to our diverse culture. This is important in order to ensure we stay attuned to what our people are thinking and what kind of leadership and operational climate we are providing for them.
Finally, we need to provide continuing opportunities for all cadets at the Academy to learn about, discuss and debate issues of religion, culture, and spirituality in a developmental setting. The challenge is that this is clearly a Federal institution. But it is also the home of 4,000, 18- to 22-year-olds who are trying to learn and make decisions about some of the weightier matters of life.
They must be able to do that, just like students at other universities. And we need to provide that in a developmental setting that helps them accomplish this in a way that also incorporates the values of respect for diversity. Last month, General Jumper sent a preliminary message to all commanders, in fact immediately after I got back from the Academy, to take a look at their procedures.
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And since last week when the Secretary accepted the recommendations of our report, a small cross-functional headquarters team has been formed. We have met several times, and we have produced an initial draft containing more specific guidance regarding religious expression.
Today, in fact already, a chief site picture, which is the chief's informal way of speaking directly to our airmen, has been sent to the field on this subject. Additionally, yesterday the USAF announced that Rabbi Arnie Resnicoff, formerly a chaplain of the U.S. Navy, has joined the Air Force as a highly qualified expert to advise the Secretary on a wide range of subjects related to respect for diversity and character development.
And as recommended in our report, Rabbi Resnicoff will be putting together an interfaith ecumenical team from inside and outside the Department of Defense to assist the Air Force and the Academy in these areas.
Finally, let me conclude with this thought. When an aircraft commander looks around the cockpit at his crew, or a flight lead checks the position of her wingman, the color, gender, religion or heritage of those team members is of absolutely no relevance. What is totally relevant is that they have the character to work as a team and the courage to accomplish a difficult and sometimes dangerous mission. That character and the basis of their charter is developed, in part, at places like the Air Force Academy, where we have been and will be committed to the spiritual development of Air Force leaders.
For many, a vital component of that spiritual development is inextricable from their religious faith, while for others it is based in their family, their heritage, or their culture. But for all, it comes together in our core values and is founded on our respect for each other, including respect for our right to hold a diversity of beliefs. And it is those values that bind us to the oath that we all take to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, that proscribes either the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
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Thank you, Madam Chairman and Members of the committee for the leadership that you have shown and continue to show on this issue.
Respect for a diversity of beliefs is the morally right thing to do. It is the law of the land, and it is a mission imperative. We are committed to getting this right, and we won't fail in that effort. Thank you, ma'am.
Mrs. DRAKE. Thank you, General Brady.
STATEMENT OF CHAPLAIN JACK D. WILLIAMSON, COL. (RET.), EVANGELICAL FRIENDS CHURCH, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON MINISTRY TO THE ARMED FORCES, U.S. AIR FORCE
Chaplain WILLIAMSON. Madam Chairman, Dr. Snyder, Members of the committee and other congressional Members in attendance, on behalf of the National Conference on Ministry to the Armed Forces, I want to thank you for the privilege of being with you, and I want to be open to any questions you have.
And we will with you, like we attempted to do from our team to the Academy, reflect to you as honestly and fairly and balanced as we can our perceptions. We spent a brief amount of time at the Academy.
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The National Conference of Ministry to the Armed Forces is unique on the planet. We represent a large diverse religious population, more so than any others I know of, approximately 220 different religious bodies. And we help to provide chaplains to all of the armed services and veterans affairs hospitals, quite a daunting task. But we sort of have a pretty long experience in working in this cooperative pluralistic ministry platform and environment. And I think that the challenges facing the Air Force and the Air Force Academy are not unique to the Air Force Academy.
This debate is ever present in our culture. As late as yesterday, the Supreme Court ruling, this is a robust debate. And what is being played out at the Academy is one of the stages that what we are seeing is played out on. So I think it is important to realize and keep in perspective that the Air Force Academy's spotlight right now is not a solo event unique only to the Air Force Academy.
We were asked by Acting Secretary of the Air Force Mr. Dominguez to go out as an independent group to look at the allegations. I want to tell you that we intentionally, also probably intentionally by the Air Force, were not privy and did not ask to look at any of the findings or recommendations by the headquarters panel that went out, and so our observations and report were independent of whatever they did.
General Brady and I have talked about it. It is somewhat surprising that in a lot of our reporting we saw similar things. We did experience some overreaching. We did see that some of the sensitivities and problems are related to a long period of years of practice that have probably gone unchallenged or unrecognized as insensitive or unaware. We did not find that it was primarily a matter of intolerance per se. We did not find that it was maliciously motivated at any time of the insensitivities, but nevertheless there were and have been some practices that do not lend themselves to respect, and I would like to probably piggyback with that goodwill.
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I think respect in itself is important, and as my friend Rabbi Resnicoff put it in his report, that the key there is the importance of respecting your right to believe or not believe as you choose; not that I need to respect what you believe particularly, but to respect your right. And that moves far beyond tolerance, as we have talked about so much. I do not particularly care for that word. I like that I can really wholeheartedly stand up for you and respect your right to believe or not believe as you choose in terms of spiritual values or religion.
I appreciated the Madam Chairwoman's opening comments. It is sort of what I think is the center of focus here, is what is needed is a sense of balance. And that is a dynamic process, as Dr. Snyder said, because we are working with people.
All of us who have lived in the D.C. area know what it is like to drive on the Beltway. And if you allow me the simple metaphor, I tried to think what is a metaphor for all of this. It seems to me that it has to do something with Beltway driving. It is a dangerous place out there. There are big trucks and crazy drivers, and people who have different ideas of how you should drive on the Beltway than I do. But as long as I stay in my lane and you stay in your lane, and you do not cut me off and I do not cut you off, we pretty well can get to where we want to go around that Beltway, unless somebody violates the boundaries, gets out of their lane without permission or a welcome to cross over into my lane. And if there is an accident, you know you are late for work. And if it is a truck accident, you are probably late for half a day of work at least. And in some simple way, I think there is some correlation between how this whole business of free expression of religion has to do with understanding boundaries in a respectful way with goodwill.
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Our concerns are clearly that the attention that has been given to the Air Force Academy in these issues will be looked at carefully and seriously, but that we not allow a pendulum swing to go in an opposite direction where we shut down the very good things that are happening to the exclusion of free expression of all.
As we do that, we would probably be establishing a new religion of nonreligion, and I think we want to avoidI had an old philosopher friend who used to say, ''To fall on either digit is equally damning.''
And I would hope that through the work of your committee and the Air Force and outside counsel, that we would try to get the best out of this. And I am affirming, and our team is affirming in that we believe the Air Force Academy will and certainly has the potential to be a model in our culture of very conflicting diverse views on how we can model working cooperatively in a pluralistic environment, even with the sensitivity of religious and spiritual issues.
Again, we thank you for the privilege and are open to your questions
Mrs. DRAKE. Thank you, Chaplain.
And now Reverend Dr. Kristie Leslie. Thank you for being here.
STATEMENT OF LESLIE, REV. DR. KRISTEN, ASST. PROF. OF PASTORAL CARE AND COUNSELING, YALE DIVINITY SCHOOL, AND GROUP LEADER, YALE DIVINITY SCHOOL GRADUATE STUDENTS GROUP, U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY
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Reverend LESLIE. Madam Chairwoman, Dr. Snyder, Members of the committee and other Members present, thank you for your invitation to be here today.
I have to say, I am accustomed to teaching graduate students, not talking this way. This is a new experience for me. My students are going to get a kick out of me having to learn. I am a United Methodist clergywoman, and I am a professor of pastoral care and counseling at Yale Divinity School, which means I work with students who are training to become religious professionals, on how to be with people in the midst of suffering, how they can understand how to bear witness in the midst of suffering, how to alleviate suffering.
So my relationship with the Air Force Academy has been in relation to my work as a pastoral counselor, as a pastoral theologian. It started when about 21/2 years ago, I was invited to come work with the chaplains on how to better serve cadets who have been survivors of sexualized violence. So I had been to the Academy a number of times previous to last summer when I took six of my graduate students to be in the midst of basic cadet training.
Our mission there was to help assess and help the chaplains assess and improve their cadet-centered care. That is, in light of the culture and climate changes that had come out of the sexualized violence and assault matter at the Academy, we were asked to help the chaplains think about what the Agenda for Change meant to them.
So in preparation for that, my students and I boned up on the Agenda for Change and lived for a week in the midst of basic cadet training. At 4:45 in the morning, when loud bugles and very loud cadre were screaming, we too were awake.
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For a week we shadowed the chaplains, who were enormously hospitable to us, to civilians in an environment that was very new to us. We observed worship services, a variety of them. We accompanied chaplains who were working with the basics and the cadre during pastoral visits. We ourselves sat with some of the chaplains and participated in the caring for the cadets. We were able to observe the basic cadet training courses. We went to the cadet chapel service. We went to the global engagement service. And we offered pastoral care in general.
So we had a week both to help the chaplains assess and improve the work that they were doing, but also for us to examine what it means to do ministry in a very different context for us, in a context that relies on pluralism, many faiths sitting side by side. The chaplains there were very hospitable to us, in teaching us how they do it, and were open to our conversations with them.
At the end of our time, we spent about two hours with the chaplains, the active duty and the reservist chaplains, in an out-briefing, which then we wrote that up, which became known as the After Action Report or the Yale Memorandum, which many of you have seen now.
That memorandum was a reflection of that two-hour out-briefing that we had with the chaplains. In that conversation with the chaplains, we talked about things that we saw done very well. We saw the chaplains engaging with the basics and the cadre in very caring ways. We saw the chaplains having a very good presence in a variety of activities that were being done in the midst of basic cadet training.
For those chaplains who were familiar with the Agenda for Changeand there were many who were notwe were able to watch andhelp watch them as they corrected some of the upper class cadets who were cadre, who were training. And so we, in our conversation, we were able to reflect back with the chaplains some good things that we saw.
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At the same time, we saw some things that concerned us. And some of those got reflected in that Yale Memorandum. We saw somefrom the point of view of the chaplainswe saw some very sectarian prayers and offerings of pastoral care in a pluralistic context; which baffled my students, because we had been told that in light of good order and discipline and unit cohesionwe did not understand how very sectarian prayers, how exhorting basics to return to their tents to tell other basics, that in fact if they did not profess the same kind of religious tradition, that they would in fact go to hell.
We were struck that a number of the reservist chaplains were actually not very skilled in pastoral care. We saw the cadets themselves with the heathen flight that many of you have read about, where those cadets who wereor the basics choosing not to go to worship services were put together in a heathen flight, and marched back to their tents.
We saw on a rope, on the basic cadet training courses, we saw some well-intentioned cadets trying to give courage to other cadets, but in very, very unidimensional ways: Jesus will be with you. Jesus will save you. In a context where we understood the importance of unit cohesion and good order and discipline, in our minds that worked against that.
When we talked with the chaplains about this afterward in this out-briefing, no one contests that in fact what we saw was there. What we did hear, though, from some folks is that is the way we do it here. This is the way it is done. We just preach Jesus. That was problematic. Our understanding was that that was problematic in that environment.
So as I think about the interpretation of some of those examples, it leads me to a couple of things. It was clear in my mind that in that environment, there was not a clarity with some of the leadership, both chaplains and other leaders, the difference between good pastoral or spiritual care and evangelism, that is. And particularly with the task force report that has just come out now with the apparent exoneration of some of the chaplains' actions, it says that there is not a clear understanding between what is good spiritual and pastoral care, and how that bumps up against us if we are saying religious freedoms.
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Second, what we saw was not consistent with good order and discipline. In fact, more likely as these basics and as the cadre are working to become leaders in the Nation's Air Force, we did not see how this was helping them to negotiate the variety of religious expressions that certainly are out in the Air Force. And if in fact if we are training leaders, we have to train leaders to know how to work in a pluralistic environment. That was not being modeled.
We were left with the impression that in that environment, these 18- to 22-year-olds were left trying to negotiate how to be in the environment with different religious traditions sitting side by side, because we were seeing examples where the leadership was not giving good guidance.
It is very clear, based on the Supreme Court's decisions yesterday and other discussions that have gone on in this building, that leadership in the country is not clear about the role of religious freedom and the role of creating a unified fighting force. It is not clear at all. That is something that becomes very important, that I know that you are working on clearly.
What is happening at the Air Force Academy, what we saw, is that it is being left up to the cadets to negotiate. And I think that is inappropriate. Because of that, then, it is my hope and others' hope that there can be some outside oversight to begin to get a clarity on what that means to negotiate that. That is a hard topic. And it is an emotionally filled topic; one that the cadets should not be left trying to negotiate by themselves. Thank you very much.
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Mrs. DRAKE. Thank you, Dr. Leslie.
We are going to go to our questions. We are going to hold to our five minutes for each Member of the committeeof the subcommittee and of the committee and our other guests.
So, General Brady, I would like to start with you. The headquarters review group report cites the lack of guidelines defining the boundaries between permissible and inappropriate expression of religious belief. So I think the first question is why such guidelines have not already been developed and already been in place.
General BRADY. Well, I think the difficulty of the nature of that I think kind of answers that question. This is hard stuff. And I think figuring out, it is very easy. Some of these things are very easy, as I said in my opening comments. There is no debate about really egregious behavior: slurs, disparaging remarks. Nobody is going to debate that with you. But what I can say and what I can't say in terms of my expression of my faith is a more difficult issue.
And so I think probably historically there has been a reluctance to jump into that well and start making lists of this is what you can do and this is what you cannot do, and here is when and where, because you will always leave something out.
That said, we have to provide better guidance to our commanders and senior supervisors on this subject. And we cannot shy away from it just because it is hard. And so I think the direction that you will start to see us take, is torather than try to come up with the menu of 234 things you can or cannot do, we need to educate commanders and to have them ask themselves a series of questions: What is this relationship? Am I in a peer relationship? What is my audience? What am I going to say? Is this an appropriate time for a prayer? Prayer becomes kind of a battleground, among others, as to where you can and where you cannot. Is it appropriate? What is the benefit? What is the downside? Would someone feel lessened by this in my organization? There are times when it is appropriate. There are probably times when it is not.
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And so we need to sort through the kinds of questions that we as commanders and supervisors ought to ask ourselves when we delve into the area of religious expression
Mrs. DRAKE. Are they currently working on that right now?
General BRADY. Absolutely. Yes, ma'am.
Mrs. DRAKE. And Chaplain Williamson, in your career, I certainly would think that the chaplains have contemplated this issue in their day-to-day work, would have some type of guidance in how to deal with people by military chaplains. So why did these guidelines, that I am sure that you were taught, or other chaplains were taught, not work at the Air Force Academy? Do you have any perspective on that? Are you taught certain guidelines as chaplains? Maybe that is the first question.
Chaplain WILLIAMSON. The answer to the first is, yes, we are taught guidelines. And one of the perspectives has to do with cooperation with others without compromising your own perspective and religious beliefs. We call it ''cooperation without compromise.''
There are some thingsand that is an attitudinal piece that I was talking about earlier in terms of respect, yes, mixed with goodwill, that I am willing to cooperate with you and respect your right to believe differently than I do, but that I don't ask you to compromise your beliefs or the practice of your beliefs, and I expect and hope for the same response back from you, that you can respect me, even though you may not subscribe or agree and maybe even diametrically disagree with my beliefs. I think that is a fundamental operating principle.
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I think one of the breakdownsand we commented and made it our first recommendation in our reportis a number of the accusations came not out of the camp of chaplains violating that so muchalthough Dr. Leslie has referred to some in hers, in terms ofand we can talk some more about thatbut from within the permanent parties, the faculty, staff, leadership.
And a part of the sensitivity briefing training in the slide was that DOD has guidance for the education and training of commanders about parameters and guidelines with regard to free exercise and establishment clauses. And we recommendand General Brady, you can take me on on this if you likebut we are not so confident that it is well established within training environments, educational environments, for commanders to be as sensitized to these issues
Hence, if you have commanders at the squadron levels and above that do not understand and are not sensitive to these issues and do not know how to say, ''Hey, that is not appropriate in this environment,'' I think they are working very hard to correct thatbut I think that is one of the reasons it may have broken down to the degree it has
Mrs. DRAKE. It sounds like one of the things we need to look at is having chaplains train the commander in this.
Chaplain WILLIAMSON. I am not so sure about that.
Mrs. DRAKE. Dr. Leslie, what is your perspective regarding what guidelines should be? I am sure you have thought about that in the past year. We will tell your students, by the way, that you did a good job.
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Reverend LESLIE. Thank you. I think there are some guidelines, both General Brady and Chaplain Williamson have pointed out, to the core values; the second core value being service before self.
And one of the explications of that talks about religious tolerance; that is, that religious matters are a matter of individual conscience, that no one in power, commanders, have the right to change or coerce anyone's religious preference or expressions.
I think what happens, it gets right to the heart of the matter, when you combine the power of the institution with one particular religious ideology, then it tacitly suggests that that is the ideology of the system, and in order to survive and achieve you have to go there.
So I think looking at some of the core values that already do exist, I think there is a framework for that. I think what there has not been is some intentionality both about accountability, behavioral accountability to that with timelines.
Mrs. DRAKE. Thank you very much. I am going to go now to Dr. Snyder.
Dr. SNYDER. Thank you, Madam Chairman. If I might, for our witnesses, our five-minute rule is that we get five minutes for questions. We have a very good turnout here today. By my calculation, there is no way that we will be done by four o'clock if everyone takes their five minutes.
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So what I would like to do as is ask you all, as a statement for the recordif you err on the side of brevity in answering these questions, every Member here has about ten questionsbut my question for the record is, feel free to submit to the committee any addendums or additional amplification of your answers, and that will be made part of the record and distributed to these members. I know these are complicated questions. On the other hand, I think there is a lot of interest in what you have to say.
General Brady, as I read through your report, did you seek out any advice from the other academies?
General BRADY. Yes. What we did was we asked the U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy if they would like to participate with us in this effort before we went. The Military Academy was not able to, but the Naval Academy sent their senior lawyer, their Staff Judge Advocate, Captain Mike Waters, went with us and provided some good perspectives for us.
Dr. SNYDER. On page five of your written statement, you say: ''While we believe the Air Force as a whole has effectively navigated this difficult terrain''meaning this tension between establishment and fair exerciseon what do you base your conclusion that the Air Force as a whole does not have problems or pockets of problems at places other than the Air Force Academy?
General BRADY. We don't see indications that we do. But I am not naive. I mean, we have 360,000 people just in the active duty. So does some of this exist? I think inevitably it does. Although we haven't, you knowwe do not have survey data that gives us concern.
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But because of that, I mean, it is kind of like what I said in my opening remarks. If we have a problem here and it has to do with relations between people, we are not going to wait until we figure out that we have one someplace else. So for that reason we are doing this cradle-to-grave look of integrating our values-based program throughout the active duty as well.
Dr. SNYDER. In your written statement you also go through the history, and you make note of the fact that there were complaints back in 1994. So over ten years ago, there have been press discussions about
General BRADY. Right
Dr. SNYDER [continuing]. Your findings, people that think that you have not gone far enough on those kind of issues. What assurances can you give us that ten years from now we are not going to look back and see your report as, this is just another step that turned out to be a step on the path of not solving the problem?
What is different now from what has occurred over the last ten years?
General BRADY. Well, I think what is different is, you can go back probably for as far as we have had surveys, and you would find that in a rather large population, you might see some indication. I think that is kind of indicative, although not a very attractive endorsement, of the kind of human behavior; nor does it excuse it.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But there has probably been a little bit along all of the time. But I think what is different about this is that General Rosa, because he was looking at and had been highly sensitized by the sexual assault situation that was there when he took over, he began to look pretty hard across the climate and drilled down a little more in every area than we might have previously. And so when he saw that, he saw a little broader issue in terms of attitudes or perceptions than he might havethat might have spiked him on a few incidents that you might figure to be relatively routine in a large command.
Dr. SNYDER. Dr. Leslie, I am married to a Methodist minister, so I should give you the secret handshake or something; but she has never taught me the secret Methodist handshake. One of the things that I learned in the two years of being married to her, and never having been married before, is churches talk about where they are in terms of their attendance and their membership. But I have been very impressed, as I talked to other ministers and their spouses, that it is not the same numbers, that there is actually fairly high turnover in churches, even of people leaving, new ones coming in. You look at your attendance, but they may not necessarily be the same people.
It seems like at the Air Force Academy, it is a captive audience for four years; that if somebody does not like the chaplain, does not like the environment, they do not have the option of saying I am going to go to that other Air Force Academy down the road. Should that affect how we approach this religious environment?
Reverend LESLIE. I think it is inevitable that it has to have an impact because, as you say, a captive audience, a trapped audience. I mean, these are not cadets who have a lot of options, particularly first-year cadets who have to stay right there; which means recognizing the importance of having chaplains who can attend to the variety of faith traditions. And the reality is you cannot have a chaplain for every faith tradition at the Academy, which means chaplains who are there know that they are going to need to be serving folks of other religious traditions and not just their own tradition.
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It is not like a church that I might serve where everybody in my congregation, at some level, is going to be buying into most of the framework that I have.
But the Armed Forces have done a marvelous job historically on doing ministry in a pluralistic context. I think the civilian world has learned a lot from the armed services on this one. I think right now this occurrence is an anomaly, because the armed services have done such a good job on this.
I think this is another occasion now where the armed services have a way to lead the way in the discussion on how do we begin to recognize where religious freedoms bump up against each other. General Brady was talking about how they brought in legal folks from the Naval Academy to think about the issues. And most times when the heated discussions get going, it is not on a legal line, it is on a very faith-based line.
Dr. SNYDER. I think that leads to my last question. I think it is in your report, Chaplain Williamson, in which you, under commander training, ensure that all commanders fully understand the constitutional first amendment mandates with regard to establishment and free exercise of religion. Was that your report?
Chaplain WILLIAMSON. Yes, sir.
Dr. SNYDER. It seems to me that what we have learned from a series of five core Supreme Court decisions is everybody understands the first amendment; they just do not understand it the same way.
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I think that is going to be an impossible task, to say we are going to ensure that all of our commanders ensure the first amendment, because I suspect that everybody up here has a different understanding of the first amendment application to all kinds of issues.
But if you want to comment, I do not have any problem with you saying that. It is just going to be an impossible task. Thank you all for your contributions.
General BRADY. Can I just make one comment? I will not disagree. They are a captive audience, by definition, at the Air Force Academy. However, there are 12 chaplains of various faiths that they can go to. And in the religious program that we have for them, centered primarily on Monday night, there are 19 opportunities, including Catholic, Buddhist, Latter Day Saints, Jewish, and a plethora of Protestant opportunities. So, yes, they are captive largely on the Academy grounds, but it is not like the religious experience is without diversity.
Mrs. DRAKE. Thank you.
Next is Mrs. Davis of Virginia.
Mrs. DAVIS OF VIRGINIA. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman. And thank you all for being here today.
One of your recommendations, as I heard you say it, was to provide that cadets are able to talk about their religion, to interact if you will, in order to have their freedom of expression and as a way to build their character. I think, General Brady, you may have said that.
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General BRADY. Yes, ma'am.
Mrs. DAVIS OF VIRGINIA. I think we have heard it, just with the few questions that we have had already, and with the testimony from the three of you, that it is very difficult to balance that freedom of expression and, you know, your beliefs withoutand to still avoid overstepping that boundary and being insensitive, if you will. Very difficult task.
And I think my colleague, Mr. Snyder, said it correctly. I would almost bet you every one of us have a different view of what freedom of religion and freedom of speech is. And even, General Brady, you said it yourself; that when you were talking about what the chaplains could and could not do, when it is appropriate to do something and when it is notI wrote it down. You said, ''probably times when prayer is appropriate and times when it is not.''
That, I think, is the problem. How do you know and how do our chaplains know and how do our leaders at the Academy know? How do they know? Are you going to have guidelines? I mean, how are you going to tell them, what techniques are they going to use?
General BRADY. Ma'am, you have hit the nail on the head. It is not easy. Unfortunately, command is not a recipe sort of thing. Very recently, a very good friend of mineand, like myself, a former commandersaid, I was shipping out 14 young people to Iraq, putting them on the bus, they were getting ready to go. And this young man says: Sir, can we have a prayer?
Now, he had one. But you have got to ask yourself, well, why if he, the commander, was an atheist? Well, in my view he is still responsible for the spiritual development of his troops. So hopefully the chaplain was there with him, and he would have said, ''Chaplain, would you lead us in a prayer?''
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What I would not like to happen is for the Colonel to have to say, well, you know I would like to, but this guy named Brady wrote a regulation that says we don't pray before we get on the bus.
This is not easy, and commanders have to make judgments, and we have got to give them some things to consider when they do that. Because sometimes it is the right thing to do, sometimes it is not. The way you do it is very important, clearly; and the chaplains help us a lot with that.
A lot of the problems thatcomplaints that I heard about prayer at the Academy tended to not be with clergy but with student-led prayers, cadet-led prayers, and for people who were not clergy. The clergy pretty much have this political correctness thing down. They understand it pretty well and are pretty ecumenical. I have rarely run into one that is not.
Mrs. DAVIS OF VIRGINIA. Before you go any further there, you have prompted me with several things already. I mean, you said that with commanders it is judgment calls. If they make that wrong judgment call, we will probably be having another hearing on it because it will hit the press and it will be a problem.
You also said the problem was with students and student-led prayers. How do youthat is the point. How do you tell that studenthow do you teach that student when they cross the line in insensitivity and imposing their beliefs on someone else? That is wherein I don't think this is a cut-and-dried, black-and-white problem.
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC General BRADY. No, ma'am, it is not. It is not cut and dried. That is why the education of our young people, our cadets who are future leaders, our chaplaincy, obviously, our commanders, is to help them understand that and to make sure that, in those situations where we determine that it is appropriate for prayer, that we not lead prayers that are exclusive of people or offensive to people.
Mrs. DAVIS OF VIRGINIA. A generic sort of prayer, if you will?
General BRADY. A generic sort of prayer.
Mrs. DAVIS OF VIRGINIA. I will tell you that we deal with that I believe every day. When we start our session, we have a generic prayer, because we don't have all Christians or all Jews or all Muslims or all anything in this House. My colleague, Mr. Kline, and I were talking. We have our prayer breakfast every Thursday morning. It is not made up of just Christians. And it is a tough problem, but it is one we all have to be sensitive to one another, and it is not an easy solution.
General BRADY. I couldn't agree more.
Mrs. DAVIS OF VIRGINIA. I am going to close and stay within my time, Madam Chairman.
Mrs. DRAKE. Next is Mrs. Sanchez.
Ms. SANCHEZ. Thank you, Madam Chair. Just to amplify a little what Mrs. Davis was just saying. Actually, when we open with a prayer, it is dependent on who is up at giving the prayer. Sometimes Jesus Christ is mentioned, sometimes the Lord is mentioned, sometimes God is mentioned, sometimes it is not. So it is not in the generic, it just depends who the visiting person might be.
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But, you know, I am really not surprised that we are having this problem at the Air Force Academy. A couple years ago, we had an opening for a chaplain here within the House of Representatives. Speaker Hastert at the time put together a committeeI think it was a committee of 10 or 20 Membersand they took a look at umpteen amounts of resumes and came up with the top three or something. I wasn't on the committee. I am a Catholic, just to let you all know. And the committee of many faiths chose actually as their number one person, a Catholic priest, and there was a problem with that. Some of the Members actually said in public and to the Speaker that they would have a problem in talking to somebody with a white collar. So, if you have this in the Congress, you could imagine that we could have it somewhere else.
In fact, that person was not chosen. And then, of course, the Catholics made such a big deal about it because we had never had a Catholic who was the chaplain for our House. I believe then the Speaker chose his own Catholic priest to come, and he is now our guy here. And, quite frankly, the place didn't burn down. You know, we didn't all die. Some of us didn't wither away. It is actually okay to have a Catholic as a chaplain. So I think if we can go through some of these growing pains, the Air Force I think is allowed to, also. So I am not surprised.
What I was surprised with was a comment by one of my colleagues on a news show with respect to this in the past week wholook, I am a Catholic. At least in the tradition that I was brought up in, you know, we are pretty personal about our religion. It is not a thing where we go out and say, I am a Catholic, Meehan, you have got to be a Catholic. Come on, be a Catholic. Be a Catholic. Let me tell all the wonderful things about being a Catholic. That is not the way I was raised. It is a pretty personal thing.
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There are some Members who, according to what they believe, they must go out and recruit; and one of our colleagues was on a news show, and he basically said that. He said, I am notI don't think there is anything wrong with the number two guy at the Air Force or the number five guy or whoever it was saying what he was and telling people how great it is and telling him that Jesus Christ is here to save you and let us go.
So my question to you is, how do we work within the fact that there are people whose part of their organized religion is that they go out and recruit? I mean, how do weI don't mean to offend anybody. It is something that is very foreign to me in the way I practice my religion, but obviously is an important doctrine and piece to other peoples.
General BRADY. You are exactly right, Ms. Sanchez. And you are implying somethingI am from Oklahoma so I say it a little differently. There is an element of thiswe are talking about these areas where there is differences of opinion. We all need to take a deep breath, breathe through our nose, and blow into the bag here for a minute.
You are exactly right. Some people that are perhaps of a more liturgical tradition are less expressive and less inclined to be expressive than some people who are from a different tradition. And part of what we need to teach these cadets and learnthose of us who are a little bit beyond the cadet years understand that we have got to deal with each other. If somebody says something to me that I am not particularly interested in dealing with, we need to teach our cadets to say, Jack, got it, I understand. Thank you very much. I am not buying today.
Ms. SANCHEZ. Can you do that when they are a three-star?
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General BRADY. That is the point. We need to teach the peers to do that. We need to teach guys like myself and the women in our force and people who are in positions of authority, whether they are cadets or faculty instructors or coaches or whatever, that they are in a position of authority. When they are really expressive about their faith, particularly in areas where there is nowhere faith is not the discussion issue, they can put cadets or people subordinate to them in a compromising position, an untenable position. And we need to make sure they understand that, and we need to stop that stuff.
Mrs. DRAKE. The gentlelady
Ms. SANCHEZ. If you would indulge a little, if there is any response.
Mrs. DRAKE. Just very quickly. We really have to stick with our five minutes.
Chaplain WILLIAMSON. My sense is there is a difference between those who come from an evangelical tradition which, by the very nature of the theology, is about evangelizing as over and against understanding the word of proselytizing. I found that those two terms are almost interchangeable in our experience at the Academy, and there is a difference.
Apart from that, another issue is to truth in advertising almost. When I am up there, to say this is the tradition I come from, as you just did: I am a Catholic, and this is the way I do it. I don't expect you to have to do it that way, but I am going to, obviously, come to you from the context of my own religious tradition. That is not a compromising position. It is who I am but doesn't need to be coercive.
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Mrs. DRAKE. Thank you.
Mr. Jones is next.
Mr. JONES. Madam Chairman, thank you very much. I wanted tofirst, if I might, I have been involved for the last three years with the changes in the military as it relates to chaplains having the freedom of expression, the freedom to speak what they believe, their faith, whether it be Buddhist or Jewish or Catholic or Protestant.
I received a letter from a Navy chaplain overseas who was participating in memorials for Marines killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he closed his prayer with the name of Jesus Christ. And he wrote meand I think this is a good way for me to start, Madam Chairmanfrom the halls of Montezuma to the shores of political correctness. How can wethese men and women who are at the academies that will be the future military leaders of this country, if we have such problems that we don't have tolerance and respect and appreciation, I don't know where America is going to be going.
I will read something else very quickly, and I will have two questions. This came to me from a Marine colonel that left in June to go to Iraq. He says: Before my last change of command, my chaplain came to me and asked if I minded if he mentioned Jesus in his prayer given at the start of the ceremony. I was surprised by the question since the prayer was for me and my family and we are Christian and would specifically desire that he do so.
The close of this is from this colonel. I strongly believe in religious freedom, and I hope you understand my grave concerns about forces that would try to limit it.
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And I say that because I have heard General Brady say that you have, I believe, on staff at the Air Force Academy 12 chaplains. One is a Buddhist. I believe you said that.
General BRADY. No, sir. We have a Buddhist group that meets. We do not have a Buddhist chaplain.
Mr. JONES. I apologize for that. But they have the ability to meet and discuss their faith.
General BRADY. Correct.
Mr. JONES. Okay. You might or might not know that the Defamation League has filed a suit against Annapolis to take away the ability that they have had over 100 years to have voluntary nondenominational prayer. Three years ago, the Fourth Circuit Court agreed with the ACLU that VMI no longer have voluntary nondenominational prayer. Where is tolerance toyou pray to God, not to Jesus Christ. You are praying to God. That has been taken away. It has been challenged at Annapolis.
My point of this is, Madam Chairmanand I agree with my friends on the other sidethat this iswe can all interpret the first amendment to however we believe it has been expressed or was written and how we should be interpreted. But this is part of the education of the military leaders of this Nation. And I want to quote very quickly, and then I will go to the question.
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The Vice Admiral at AnnapolisRodney Rempt I believe is the way you pronounce his namesaid, Navy legal experts have reviewed the constitutionality of offering the prayer and found it that fits into the Academy's wider mission of developing naval officers. Those officers routinely support the religious needs of their own sailors and Marines.
I want to say to the Air Force, General, I think you all have taken a very difficult issue and you have done the very best that you can. There is no way in America with the diversity that we haveand I thank God for that diversity, quite franklythat we can continue to be a nation founded on Judeo-Christian principles and be a strong nation unless we respect everybody's right to their independence as a religious person and maybe not a religious person.
I guess the only other point I would like to make is that I believe sincerely, Madam Chairman, that we must allow these academies which are supported by the taxpayers, just like the military is supported by the taxpayers, to have the flexibility to determine what is in the best interests of those young men and women. Certainly we should be respectful of those who do not believe as we believe. But I had a Gold Star mother in my office a week ago whose son was killed in Iraq. She asked me if I could find out if he was given the last rites. He was a Catholic.
That in a way has nothing to do with this hearing today, but in a way it has a whole lot to do. We must protect the religious freedom of our men and women in uniform, whether they be at the academies or they should be in the military.
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So, sir, I didn't give you a chance to get a question, but I wanted to say thank you for what you are trying to do to give those students what they need and what they have in their heart. And I thank you, sir.
Mrs. DRAKE. General Brady, did you just want to add anything? I hate to cut you off.
General BRADY. No, ma'am.
Mrs. DRAKE. Thank you.
General BRADY. Thank you. Appreciate it.
Mrs. DRAKE. Mr. Andrews.
Mr. ANDREWS. Thank you, Madam Chairman. I thank the witnesses.
I think the issue here today and for the cadets every day is an issue of comfort and appropriate place.
I had an ecumenical weekend. I attended on Friday night a final service of a Rabbi friend who had served in the same congregation for 41 years. I then went to a Catholic service where I was the godfather for my new three-week-old niece. And as an Episcopalian that was quite an honor. Then I attended a bat mitzvah with my wife who is Jewish for a friend of ours' daughter. So I attended all different things, and I felt comfortable in all those places this weekend.
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I feel uncomfortable sitting here this afternoon, and I do because people who I respect and admire on both sides of the aisle are raising very personal, heartfelt feelings about religious faith. This is a committee that deals on a regular basis with intensely passionate issues of life and death, but I think we rarely feel as emotional as we do this afternoon in raising questions of religion.
Which is the point about what the problem is that we are trying to address, that you are trying to address at the Academy. If we feel a bit uncomfortable with people expressing their religious passions in an environment in which we were delighted to be chosen to be in, what must it be like to be a cadet who is in an environment where there is regimentation and discipline as a matter of course and necessity? This is what concerns us.
General, I admire what you have done and I clearly think that you have written a report that is very important, but I have to tell you I was a little disquieted by something you said a couple minutes ago. Correct me if I am wrong, but I think you were talking about the distinction between complaints about prayer led by cadets and prayer led by chaplains. And I am sure you had no malicious intent whatsoever, but you saidif I am correctthat the chaplains have this political correctness stuff down pretty well. Is that what you said?
General BRADY. That is what I said.
Mr. ANDREWS. Now, I don't think you meant it this way, but you understand in our discourse the term ''political correctness'' has become a pejorative. It means someone who is doing something because they are forced to for reasons or rules they may not accept, not something they are doing out of a sincere commitment to equality. I don't think you meant it that way at all.
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General BRADY. No, I did not; and I apologize if you took it that way.
Mr. ANDREWS. Well, I don't think an apology is necessary, but I think it makes the point about how important it is to draw this line betweenaccording to your reportthe permissible and impermissible expression of beliefs. You are absolutely permitted to say that. You are welcome to say that here. This is a free forum. And I wasn't offended by what you said because I assumed that you meant something very different. But it worries me about the culture of the institution if that is what you are saying and that the people you are supposed to be training to be more aware of the unintended consequences of words.
General BRADY. No, I think yousir, I think, with all due respect, I think you have misjudged on that point. There are things that I very much believe that I might very much like to say in a particular situation. But, hopefully, because I have got a lot of gray hair and I have grown up a lot over the years, I know that it is not the right thing to say, would not help the person, might be perceived badly, might be hurtful, et cetera. There areour chaplains have a particular faith, and because they are chaplains I am sure that they believe some things that may not be terribly ecumenical.
Mr. ANDREWS. I hope they do.
General BRADY. I hope they do. But because they have matured, because they have respect for each other, they don't feel compelled nor is it appropriate for them to say everything they believe on every occasion. So they have learned that there is a degree of civility and respect for each other that we must preserve. And that was the only point I was making.
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Mr. ANDREWS. See, I think what they have learnedI think what they have learned is the right context for their nonecumenical statements.
General BRADY. Exactly.
Mr. ANDREWS. That is what they have learned.
General BRADY. If a rabbi got up on a Friday night and gave a sermon that could be given at the Catholic mass, I would be a little alarmed in some ways. And if my priest, who is an Episcopalian, left the golf course for a whilesee, I am allowed to slur my own groupand made comments that weren't consistent with our faith, I would be alarmed.
The issue is the context in which you say things. And what we wantat least what I wantthe institution to focus on is understanding those contextual differences.
Mr. ANDREWS. I heard my friend, Mr. Jones, just talk. I would never want there to be any doubt that a Catholic chaplain could offer last rites to a dying soldier in the field. There should be no question about that. But I also don't think there should be any doubt that a hand signal that, you know, evidences support for one religious point of view should be shared with some cadets but not others and then used in an open session. That is the kind of thing we don't want to see happen.
General BRADY. Sir, you and I are in violent agreement.
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. ANDREWS. I hope we are not in violent agreement, but I hope that we couldno, I appreciate what you said is in good faith, but I hope that we would approach every discussion, even those here, with that sensitivity. Thank you.
Mrs. DRAKE. Thank you. Mr. Kline is next.
Mr. KLINE. Thank you, Madam Chair. Thank you, panelists, for being here.
Since we are establishing all of our various denominations here, I will jump in and admit that I am Methodist as well. And I never even heard that there was a secret handshake, so I clearly haven't shown up enough.
In addition to being a Methodist, I also served on active duty in the Marine Corps for many, many years; and I have known a lot of commanders and a lot of chaplains, and some good ones and some frankly not so good ones, some bad ones. But I think that Dr. Leslie said and got it right that, by and large, the United States Armed Forces have worked in this pluralist nondenominational arena for many years and done it very, very well.
The case of the commander who calls the Jewish officer in and counsels him on being Jewish is a real aberration. I think we are well beyond that sort of thing and have learned to deal with this very, very well. So I would say thatwe have had several comments here about this is hard. Yes, it is hard, but it is not that hard. We have a lot of examples over a lot of years where we have done this very, very well. So I am concerned that we have this climate in the Air Force Academy and can'twe can't seem to grapple with that.
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I appreciate very much the work, all of your research and reports that you have written and the ideas for recommendations to improve the situation. But, fundamentally, General, I think you said it right. It comes down to the commanders. And this is not a case where chaplains teach commanders. That is not how the system is set up. The chaplains work for commanders, and the commanders have to get this right. That is where the climate comes from. We can easily make sure that we have 12 or 11 or 10 good chaplains at the Air Force Academy, and I hope that that has been done, but we need to make sure that the command climate is right, that we are getting it right.
I want to pick up on what Dr. Snyder, in keeping with the Methodist theme here, raised earlier. I think he asked the question: Did you talk to the other academies? And you said you brought the staff judge advocate or something from the Naval Academy. Does the Air Force Academy have a Jewish chaplain?
General BRADY. Yes, sir.
Mr. KLINE. How long has he been there?
General BRADY. He has been there about a year.
Mr. KLINE. Not chaplainchapel.
General BRADY. Oh, the chapel? Yes. I don't know how long. I think from the beginning it had one. There isthe larger chapel on the main floor is for Protestant because, you know, the largest, the majority of people there are. There is a Jewish chapel, and there is a Catholic chapel and has beenwhich is pretty unusual, frankly.
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Mr. KLINE. It is. I notice that the Naval Academy down the road is just going to open theirs.
General BRADY. I am told 1963, sir.
Mr. KLINE. Okay. I guess the point is I want to stress what Dr. Snyder was talking about. I think it is very important for the Air Force Academy and the Military Academy and the Naval Academy to really talk about this and not justI don't mean to be critical, or perhaps I amnot just bring in a representative, a legal representative during the survey. There ought to be a great sharing of practices to explore what the climates are in the three academies and where there is a lesson to be learned to share that.
We really have to build a climate. We need to build it from the top down. The student body is going to change over. Yes, they are captive now, but they change. They change either one way or the other, right? They go up or they go out. So we ought to be able to get our hands around this issue by making sure we have hired the right chaplains and then getting to the command climate and then sharing those ideas. Any comments?
General BRADY. Sir, the leadership of the academies get together several times a year. This is an ongoing thing. And just soI may have led you astray. We asked for a team member. They just happened to send me their lawyer. I wouldn't ask for a lawyer. No. They said, what kind of team member do you need? And I said, somebody that is conversant on issues of character development and leadership. You pick your team member. And they senthe was a great representative, but that is who they sent.
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Mr. KLINE. Thank you very much, and I will yield back.
Mrs. DRAKE. Thank you.
Next is Mrs. Davis of California.
Ms. DAVIS OF CALIFORNIA. Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you to all of you for being here.
I wanted to go back and just clarify for a secondI think everyone has talked about this to some degree. Is there room for proselytizing at the Academy? Should there be? Or even within the services?
Chaplain WILLIAMSON. May I respond to that? I would say absolutely not, if you understand proselytizing to be sheep stealing or to try to convince someone of another religious perspective that yours is the right way andmine is the right way and yours is the wrong way, and unless you believe as I do you are in trouble.
So I personallyand would think the Air Force chief chaplain who is sitting here would probably agree with methink that proselytizing is never appropriate, particularly in a military setting.
Ms. DAVIS OF CALIFORNIA. Did you want to comment, General?
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General BRADY. I am most worried about that in superior-subordinate relationships, clearly inappropriate in that. And I think you wouldagain, it is probably a matter of debate among peers as to when this conversation takes place. I think there are and probably should be religious discussions if people want to discuss it at the peer level. But my biggest concern is superior-subordinate relationships.
Clearly, we need to be respectful of each other. When someone says, well, I don't agree with that and I don't want to hear any more of it, you know, we need to walk away from the conversation. But I wouldn't want to be terribly restrictive of people talking about their religions with their peers.
Ms. DAVIS OF CALIFORNIA. Dr. Leslie.
Reverend LESLIE. Yes. We keep casting the conversation as cadet to cadet. Actually, the issue is a leadership issue when it comes to working with cadets. It is the power issue that we keep forgetting here.
I think the General is right, that when proselytizing happens in an unequal power relationship, it is hugely problematic. When we see the words that General Weida had in the larger environment, and yet he is still up for an additional star, it calls the question: What are we doing when proselytizing happens in unequal power relationships and no accountability is happening?
Ms. DAVIS OF CALIFORNIA. Can I just follow up with Dr. Leslie's comment then? Without getting into personnel issues here, but has there been an occasion when someone who clearly was providing that kind of counsel, you might say, actually was asked to step out of that role? Have we done that?
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General BRADY. There have been a number of cases where individualswhere complaints were made againstabout them and about a particular manner in which they had expressed themselves, and they were counseled regarding the appropriateness of that. I think probably, in most cases, it was kind of a wake-up call for them in terms of maybe they had done it for so long they didn't know it was wrong. But I do know that that kind of behavior has been called into question and has been corrected and in the case you mentioned is still under investigation.
Ms. DAVIS OF CALIFORNIA. Thank you. I appreciate that.
One of the things that you said earlier, and I remember thinking at the timeyou were talking about the Beltway driver. We are talking about power alignment here, and I guess we would all act differently on the road if the other cars were all police officers. In many ways, I think there is a difference here about who is talking to whom. So whether or not this becomes something that people have done for such a long time that they don't recognize that there is a problem or we really have a systemic problem that has to be addressed is open perhaps to discussion here. What do you think?
Chaplain WILLIAMSON. It was interesting to us as we talked to groupsand we talked to probably about 180 or 90 people individually as well as groups in a day and a halfthat those who identified themselves as Christian really didn't see much of a problem. All the others thought there was a problem. So if you are the majority, if you drive the big truck on the Beltway, there is not a problem.
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. DAVIS OF CALIFORNIA. Well, as someone personally who knows what it feels to be excluded from a religious basis, I think that there is a different awareness that we all bring to this, and I think that it is important that we have policies that address that. But we also need to try and figure out, when the whole issue of permissiveness is being portrayed up and down the line, whether it is from the very top or happening at more of a peer level. It sounds like something that we are all trying to grapple with here, and I appreciate that. One question quickly.
Mrs. DRAKE. The gentlelady's time has expired. I am sorry.
Next is Mr. Conaway.
Mr. CONAWAY. Thank you, Madam Chairman, I appreciate this; and, witnesses, thank you for coming here today.
I am a Christian, and Jesus Christ is my personal savior. I hope that didn't offend you. If I were a cadet or anyone on that campus and I made that confession to someone, which is one of the tenets of my faith is that in fact I share my faith with others, and a complaint was filed, who is wrong? Am I wrong, or is the person who filed the complaint who is intolerant of my observing the tenets of my respective faith, is that person wrong for being offended? And it is a rhetorical question. You don't need to answer that.
Help me understand a little bit. As I understand the 4,000 cadets, these are men and women of strong character that got to the Air Force Academy through a very rigorous screening process, would rarely be described as a sponge, most folks, we hope. I am assuming you are training warfighters from your mission, men and women who will sometimes during their career have to make some tough choices, have to make some tough decisions, will have to look leadership in the eye in maybe some instances and say, I don't agree with you in that circumstance, maybe before the decision is made or orders are given, but some backbone in these type A, type triple A personalities.
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So it is particularly troubling that we have these folks couched in these phrases as if that there is somehowsomebody says something they don't like that they are going to automatically become a cult of some sort and just run fleeing and drink the Kool-Aid of some particular tenet that they find offensive.
To me, listening to what is going on, this is decidedly intolerant of Christianity. When you talk about generic prayers and sectorial prayers and, you know, end a prayerI grew up in the Baptist tradition. I am a Christian, but I grew up in the Baptist tradition and prayed publicly, ending my prayers in Christ's name or Jesus's name, amen. The more people tell me that I shouldn't do that, then there is another tenet of my faith that says those who deny me on earth I will deny in heaven, and you get my dander up the more you do that and the more that comes into play. And while couched in very lovely terms and very sweet and gentle phrases, Chaplains, I am sensing a very bias toward Christians and the free expression of that faith.
I don't really have a question, because most everything has been said.
One thing that did concern me, General Brady, you used the phrase that a commander would think, during some decision-making process, would that subordinate feel lessened by whatever is going to happen? That comes up a lot, that phrase comes up a lot in the Air Force command structure, that people would feel ''lessened.'' You mentioned commanders in an aircraft cockpit, wing person giving those commands. That somehow just struck me as being kind of odd coming from a school that is going to train warfighters.
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Thank you for your testimony. I don't
I had one other comment that I was going to make. But throughout this whole discussion I felt attacked because of my Christian beliefs and felt duty bound to say that and share that. Because I am not going to quit ending my prayers the way I think they ought to be ended under the tenets of my faith. And the more intolerant of the other folks, the more they become intolerantit seems strange to me that that is the positions they take.
So, Madam Chairman, I will yield back the remainder of my time. But thank you all for coming. I appreciate you allowing me to rant a bit.
Reverend LESLIE. Could I respond to that?
Mrs. DRAKE. Dr. Leslie.
Reverend LESLIE. As a pastor counselor, I am very concerned that you, in fact, are feeling somewhat in some way diminished in your faith. Imagine those folks who are feeling attacked in very much the same way, how it is for non-Christians, how it is for liturgical Christians. No one is saying that in fact you can't have your right to be a religious person. And I would not call your issue a matter of political correctness. What I would say is that you have a valid faith belief that stands behind everybody else's valid faith belief. No one should feel persecuted by that.
But at the Air Force Academy, where the mission is not one of proselytizing but of the larger Armed Forces mission, then there are going to be limitations to everyone's faith; and I am sorry that you and others will in fact feel hemmed in by that, that that certainly is not the intent.
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Mr. CONAWAY. Not to be argumentive, but I don't feel lessened.
Reverend LESLIE. Persecuted.
Mr. CONAWAY. Well, perhaps. But you have not decreased my faith or challenged it.
Reverend LESLIE. Good. I am glad. That is not my intent.
Mr. CONAWAY. Good. I didn't suspect it was.
Mrs. DRAKE. Thank you.
Mr. Meehan is next.
Mr. MEEHAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman; and I assume what we are trying to get here at is not take away anyone's ability to practice their faith. I don't know if, General Brady, you have a comment. Maybe I will get into my questions.
I commend the Air Force for preparing the report, and I think it is a useful starting point to addressing this whole issue. This has been an extremely interesting hearing.
The Air Force report speaks several times about the perception of religious intolerance at the Academy, and obviously perception as a term implies that the onus is on the individual who has the perceived problem. The perception is used despite the fact that there were many instances, some of which have been mentioned here.
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Brigadier General Johnny Weida established the code words that he shared with evangelical cadets in order to create opportunities for them to proselytize other cadets. Is that a perception problem, or is that a real problem, General Brady?
General BRADY. I don't think when you say perception that we are saying it places the onus on it. In fact, perception is frequently reality. So I don't imply that at all. And whether or not, you know, justI think we had a little bit of a perception problem between me and Mr. Andrews a few minutes ago. And the fact that I didn't mean what he took it to mean didn't change the fact that he felt that way about it.
So I am not putting the onus on the receiver here. I think very much the onus is on the sender of the message as to how it might be received. And that was certainly the contextthat was certainly the context in which I put the phrase thatwould a member of my command be lessened. Because if it does diminish a team member and makes the team less important because I make somebody feel less included, that is a problem. We are not talking about giving orders. We are not talking about, hey, put the gear down. I don't debate that with people. But I think that it is important that we are aware. So the term ''perception'' means that that is the message I received. And when somebody receives a message, we need to look into what is the message I am sending and is it appropriate? And is it as inclusive, is it as respectful as it ought to be?
Mr. MEEHAN. A chapel service during basic cadet training where Major Warren Watties, the U.S. Air Force's chaplain, encouraged attendees to proselytize your fellow cadets and with the declared penalty failure to accept proselytizations being to burn in the fires of hell. Would that be appropriate?
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General BRADY. It is not something that I would do. But if it is consistent in a chapel's service that people had a choice to go to or not go to, and it is consistent with his doctrine, it is a condition of his endorsement by his denomination that he say that, which is very different from whether or not you and I find it objectionable.
Mr. MEEHAN. What about the instance where the football coach at the Academy, Fisher DeBerry, had in the locker room a sign that said, I am a member of team Jesus Christ? Is that appropriate or not?
General BRADY. Inappropriate. If you are asking me to vote, that is inappropriate.
Mr. MEEHAN. These are interesting issues. I am just asking here.
General BRADY. By the way, Coach DeBerry and General Weida have both made public written statements that I would commend to you, too, if you don't have them, that I think are appropriate and pretty courageous.
[The information referred to can be found in the Appendix on page 54.]
Mr. MEEHAN. General Brady, Chaplain Captain Melinda Morton was relieved as her duties as executive director of the Academy's head chaplain after commissioning the Yale Divinity School study attempting to change the climate at the Academy. Although the Air Force explained that Chaplain Morton's orders for deployment overseas were issued during the ordinary course, it is my understandingand I might be wrong about thisthat it was never explained why she was relieved of her duties as executive officer of the Academy's head chaplain. Could you address that?
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General BRADY. Yes, but only briefly. Chaplain Morton has made an allegation regarding her removal from a position and also, it is my understanding, an allegation regarding the propriety of her assignment process. When she did that, Mr. Dominguez I think appropriately said, this is a serious allegation, it needs to be looked at, and it probably needs to be looked at by someone outside the Air Force. So, for that reason, he asked the Department of Defense IG to look at those two allegations; and they are currently doing so.
Mrs. DRAKE. The gentleman's time has expired.
Mr. MEEHAN. I just want to make the point that my friend from California, Ms. Sanchez, when she was delivering her remarks, was at my arm saying: Why don't you become a Catholic? Why aren't you a Catholic? I wanted to declare I am a Roman Catholic and a true Catholic. I just want to make sure that I declared myself. Thank you.
Mrs. DRAKE. After consultation with the minority, I now ask unanimous consent that Members of the House Armed Services Committee who are not Members of the Military Personnel Subcommittee be authorized to question the witnesses at today's hearing. If there is no objection, I will now recognize Mr. Hostettler for five minutes; and, as you can tell, we are going to have to go vote and then return.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. I thank the Chair, and I thank the witnesses for your participation here. General, for the record, the banner under question earlier placed by the football coach was removed the very same day, was it not?
Page 60 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC General BRADY. That is what I am told. Yes, sir.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Also, the service where I think the Chaplain Watties
General BRADY. Watties.
Mr. HOSTETTLER [continuing]. Watties was a voluntarily attended service. Was it not?
General BRADY. Yes.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you.
I will take exception slightly to one statement that you made in your report, General, in that you say, on page five, quote, the best and brightest high school students in the country are brought to the Academy from congressional districts all over the country. It is actually in my experience of ten years of the interview and nomination and appointment process that it is more like a whosoever will may come situation. We have a lot of young people who desire and work their entire lives in order to volunteer to come to the Academy, so I am not sure that we actually bring them as much as they flock to the Academy. That is important to understand in the context of State laws and public education and constitutional decisions regarding those forums and Federal law as it applies to military service and attendance to the Academy.
Words have meaning, Madam Chairman, and words and context convey messages and sometimes very strong messages. The term ''proselytizing'' has been thrown around quite freely and even become the focus on the debate of the House floor recently. The context was strong and unambiguous. The House appropriations bill which was considered last Monday stated, and I quote, ''Coercive and abusive religious proselytizing at the United States Air Force Academy by officers assigned to duty at the Academy and others in the chain of command at the Academy, as has been reported, is inconsistent with the professionalism and standards required of those who serve at the Academy.'' End quote.
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The bill reported by the Appropriations Committee and considered on the House floor continued, quote, ''The Secretary of the Air Force and other appropriate civilian authorities and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force and other appropriate military authorities must continue to undertake corrective action as appropriate to address and remedy the inappropriate proselytizing of cadets at the Air Force Academy.''
Now, I would point our attention to the first chart. Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines proselytizing, quote, ''To induce someone to convert to one's faith.'' End quote. The American Heritage Dictionary states, quote, proselytizing is, quote, ''To convert from one belief or faith to another.'' End quote.
General, I did not read of any in your report, but has there been any reported instances of coerced conversions from one faith to another or from no faith to faith?
General BRADY. I am not aware of any. I wouldn't say that it hasn't happened, but that was not really the issue we were dealing with at the Academy, in my view.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. But in all of your focus groups no one said, I was forcefully forced?
General BRADY. No, sir.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Okay. Thank you.
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I would turn now to the discussion of toleration, as it is a very important discussion in these matters. Once again, turning to the dictionary, toleration is, quote, ''A government policy of permitting forms of religious belief and worship not officially established.'' According to the American Heritage Dictionary, toleration is, quote, ''Official recognition of the rights of individuals and groups to hold dissenting opinions, especially on religion.'' In an environment of toleration, the dictionary requires two tenets, and that is, first, an official or established policy, and then dissenting opinions.
General, what is the official religion of the United States Air Force Academy?
General BRADY. There is no official religion of the Academy.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. So the policy of the Air Force Academy is that there is no official religiousand so a dissenting opinion in an era of toleration would require a dissenting opinion from the official policy of no official religion, which, if I may, would seem to suggest that a dissenting opinion would be that there should be an official religion at the United States Air Force Academy. Would you not agree with that?
General BRADY. I think I am following you.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. But that is not the case. So since there is not dissent from the official positionwell, there may be dissent, but we must allow that dissent.
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I have never served in the military, General, so I am unfamiliar with the relationship between superiors and subordinates. Let me ask you a question. Are cadets generally given accommodation that is not afforded others up the chain of command?
General BRADY. I am not sure I understand the question, but I will try this. There arepeople ask for accommodation in some cases if there is a military event that conflicts with something they would like to do regarding their faith, for example. And it is the judgmentthe commander is encouraged by policy to accommodate, where possible, consistent with getting his or her mission done in good order and discipline. So there is an emphasis on accommodation.
As you get further up the chain of command, you startyou are probably less likely to ask for accommodation, I would guess, because you understand perhaps more broadly what the mission is and you don't raise those kinds of questions.
Mrs. DRAKE. The gentleman's time has expired; and, as you can tell, we need to go vote. So we will be coming back. It will probably be 20 to 25 minutes. We would hope that you can remain. And certainly members have been waiting very patiently to ask their questions. So we are sorry for the break, but we will be back. Thank you.
Mrs. DRAKE. We would like to go ahead and get started again. We appreciate your patience and for the time delay. And next is Mr. Israel.
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Mr. ISRAEL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Madam Chair. And let me also thank the ranking member. I am not a member of the subcommittee, although I do have the privilege of serving on the full committee and I appreciate the accommodations that have been made to me. And I especially appreciate the witnesses remaining for as long as they have.
I have been struck throughout this hearing, I have been struck during the full committee debate on this issue when I offered an amendment relative to the issue. I have been struck by debate on the floor of the House by the very vast perception divide that exists. To some, the problem is not the people being coerced, the problem is that they are complaining about being coerced.
To some, the problem is not that people feel victimized or feel powerless, it is that they continue to complain about it. And we have heard a lot of talk, even today, about how we are grappling with the various gray areas. But I must say I think there are some fairly clear and bright lines of common sense. And I just want to share one in particular, and ask General Brady, who I have a tremendous amount of respect for. You had a very task, a very difficult task.
General, you offered an analogy before, we are trying to grapple with what is okay, what is not okay, where it is okay, where it is not okay. You used the analogy, you said, do you know what happens when you have a group of people who are about to ship out to Iraq? And one of them says to their commanding officer, can we have a prayer? Do we want to be in a position of saying, no, you can't have a prayer? I don't think anybody, I know I speak for my colleagues, I certainly wouldn't support that.
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But isn't there a big difference between saying, no you can't have a prayer, or yes, we can pray, as opposed to saying, let's all pray, but those of you who don't want to pray will burn in the fires of eternal hell, or those of who you don't want to pray, you stand over there and get in what we call a heathen flight. Aren't there areas of common sense where it is absolutely clear what is permissible and what is not permissible, General?
General BRADY. Yes, sir.
Mr. ISRAEL. Thank you. Let me raise one of the points of my friend from Indiana. The gentleman from Indiana gave us a textbook definition of proselytizing, to induce someone to convert to one's faith. There, too, I think there is a kind of a common sense distinction here. To some, the issue would be success rate. If you have been converted, if we have succeeded in converting you, then we have a problem. Up to that point, everything is fine. Up to that point, everything is great. We have concerns as soon as we reach a certain success rate. So I don't think this definition is particularly helpful.
Two final questions if I have the time, one to the General and then we will open it up to everybody.
General, in your report, you talk aboutlet me just quickly grab ityou write as follows: You say the task of providing for free exercise of religion while not appearing to establish religion is complex enough in any government setting. Arguably, it is even more complex in the military environment. And yet again, more challenging in a university military setting. I think that is profoundly correct. I agree completely. And in the 1990's, in the Clinton administration, an interfaith group of experts was convened to fully explore and rationally explore, without diatribe, without politics, without partisanship, how we balance religious freedom and respect in the Federal Government.
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Given this arduous task that you have been through, given the challenges that you have borne on your shoulders, do you believe it would be helpful to have a similar bipartisan commission that doesn't take a look at the Air Force Academy narrowly, but provides some instruction to all of us on the proper balance between religious freedom and religious respect in the military? Do you think that would be helpful?
General BRADY. Sir, I think discussion on this in a public forum is appropriate. I wouldn't want to prescribe or recommend, you know, what type of forum it is. We certainly, within our Air Force as we put in the recommendation, see the advisability of doing that sort of thing and of getting some outside help as we put it, meaning outside the Air Force. And we will be doing that.
Mr. ISRAEL. Great, thank you, General. And as you know, I have introduced legislation to create a bipartisan Presidential Commission on religious freedom and respect in the military.
Final question, which I want to throw up as a jump ball. We have heard that some believe that they are required, as a matter of faith, to spread and share their faith, including those who serve at the academy. I understand that is a matter of religious mission. I want to share with you something Chaplain Morton said earlier today. I thought it was very profound. She was a minute man two-missile launch commander at strategic air command. In her hands she held the keys to the most powerful and deadly weapons that mankind has ever known. As she said, a turn of the key in her hands could launch weapons that would knock the earth off of its axis. Her Lutheran and upbringing and teachings instruct her that genocide is wrong, is immoral, is not acceptable. She had to make an accommodation of her religious beliefs to pursue her military mission. Or she didn't need to. She could have just said, here are the keys, salute smartly and walk out of the Silo. How do you believe people in the military should reconcile their firmly held religious beliefs with their military mission? I will throw it to whoever wants to answer.
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General BRADY. Yes, sir. General Jumper has said, and in fact as late as today, when you put on the uniform, some things change. What are they? And I think it refers to what you are talking about. There are some things that might be appropriate, and not needing to be restricted in civilian life that are in many circumstances, once we have put on the uniform. This does not mean that we have compromised our faith. But it does mean that we are respectful of other people's faith. And it is also respectful of the fact that, that particularly when we are engaged in operations, religion is not the mission. The mission is the mission. And so we just need to, in some cases, remind ourselves of that.
I don't think that my Christianity, for example, is a detractor. If it is, it is not a very good form of Christianity. It should make me fairminded, respectful of people. And I hope it does.
But I think your point is well made.
Mrs. DRAKE. Thank you, gentlemen. And the gentleman's time has expired. After consultation with the minority, I now ask unanimous consent that members not on the House Armed Services Committee be authorized to question the witnesses at today's hearings. If there are no objections, I will now recognize Mrs. Capps.
Mrs. CAPPS. Madam Chair, I want to thank you and Ranking Member Snyder for permitting me to be a part of this important hearing. Not being on the subcommittee and not being on the general committee, I am mindful of all the work you do on a variety of topics to make sure our Armed Services can be as effective as possible in defending our Nation. It is an awesome responsibility.
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For me the hearing today goes right to the heart of that matter. It is essential that our Armed Forces be unified in spirit and in mission. Men and women in our armed services need to feel and know that they are part of one team, no matter their religious persuasion, background, tradition. If we allow religious intolerance at the Air Force Academy or at any military institution, that unity is threatened.
So I am pleased that you are holding this hearing and I am looking into this matter. And I hope this will mark the beginning of an aggressive oversight effort by Congress.
Professor Leslie, much of this issue today was brought to light based on a memorandum that came out of a visit instigated by the academy that you described in your opening statement. You have brought us to the point where you did the outbriefing for two hours with the chaplains, that was part of the reason you were brought on and made a part of the basic training, that character formation experience. Then you wrote a memorandum, or a report, and submitted it. And my question has to do with what happened to it. In terms of a response to you, can you tell me, if any action or decisions were made based on the memorandum that you and your team in consultation with Chaplain Morton submitted?
Reverend LESLIE. My understanding is that after Chaplain Morton and I drafted the memo, the memorandum, she then went and briefed senior staff Chaplain Whittington on the matter and left the report with him. And my understanding is that it sat on his desk for ten months.
Page 69 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. CAPPS. And now today we find ourselves here following a task force that was authorized to make a study at the Air Force Academy. That authorization came from the Secretary. I believe it came in some part, at least to a letter that I and 45 of my colleagues, or 44 of my colleagues wrote to the acting secretary, asking that this be done. This letter came to be because of the report that you submitted, or the memorandum being made public.
And I want to ask a further question about how important it might be in your mind that Congress conduct vigorous oversight of the Air Force and the Academy on this particular issue, maybe mentioning if you think that changes that need to be made that you have indicated in your memorandum, and General Rosa has alluded to a systemic and pervasive need for change, would these be made if there is insufficient oversight?
Reverend LESLIE. I think with General Rosa's comments to the Anti-Defamation League, there are, in fact, systemic and pervasive problems. That seems to stand in contrast to the report that came out of the official task force report that said, in fact, there are not. I think that suggests a difference of opinion that is significant enough that there is outside oversight that is needed.
Mrs. CAPPS. One more topic, and I hope I have time, General Brady, to ask you a question, too. The Air Force report on the Academy documents several practices or events that have taken place at the Academy where people in positions of authority push their faith. Now, your expertise is in the area of pastoral counseling and you teach it. And we have had some expressions today about beliefs and so forth within the context of the House of Representatives where we have a very different setting, even with respect to our Chaplain.
Page 70 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC What is your estimation of the importance of the chain of command and issues that may not seem like coercion, but given by someone in authority over a fledgling, a cadet, just, if you would, elaborate on that, if you would.
Reverend LESLIE. There is a difference between coercive power and persuasive power. And the main difference is with persuasive power, you have the ability and the authority, power to say no and have the no respected. With coercive power that is not the case.
The Air Force Academy is based on power, on power rankings. I was struck that in the week that I was there, I was able to see last summer, the brand new basics coming in, as they were, matriculating, if you will, I know that is not the appropriate military term, but one of the things I was able to see is that they are taught seven appropriate responses these basics could give to give to folks in higher authority. Now, I know that is not, doesn't continue for all the cadets all the way through. But it was made clear to those basics that there are only a certain number of responses that they can have, which suggests in a context where there is power, a power differential, then there are some folks who don't have the freedom to say no.
Mrs. CAPPS. I see the red light. I was going to ask General Brady the same, but maybe at another point we can do that.
Mrs. DRAKE. Thank you. And Mr. Turner.
Mr. TURNER. Thank you, Madam Chairman, I want to thank all of the thoughtful comments that have been made both by the panel and by the members who are addressing this issue. I am not a member normally of this committee, but I wanted to come to speak on this issue and to pose a question to the panel, because I am very concerned that our efforts to fashion policy might, in effect, lessen religious freedom.
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It is very important in our country, that we protect individuals from discrimination, either coercive efforts or out-and-out instances where they are disadvantaged because of individuals that are discriminating against them. We have taken great lengths in this Congress, and our country, to protect individuals from discrimination. When we get into gray areas, we must be very careful that we don't overreact in gray areas so that we actually lessen the rights that we have in this country.
Now, regardless of my religious faith, the reason why I am here to speak on this and to ask a question is not because of my religious faith, but because of my love for this country and the love for the issue of freedom of religion.
Tom Cruise most recently is getting a tremendous amount of coverage on the issue of Scientology, where I have read articles where they have even spoken of his descriptions of the benefits of Scientology as proselytizing.
The ability for us to speak of our faith and to share our faith, because we believe that it has some importance, something that we have gained from it, something that we want to share with someone else, is incredibly important. Proselytizing, I want to disagree with Chaplain Williamson, who said that proselytizing is, in all instances, wrong. And I believe that, and correct me if I am wrong, but I wrote down that you said that proselytizing is when you are inducing someone to your religion because you indicate to them if you don't, there is going to be trouble. And I know that you know the definition of proselytizing does not include an issue of trouble. And by trouble, I mean, I hear your words as meaning discrimination. So I want to make three distinctions.
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''Jesus Christ is my Lord and Saviour'' is one level. ''Jesus Christ should be your Lord and Saviour'' is another level. ''I will not promote you or I will take action against you if Jesus Christ is not your Lord and Saviour'' is another issue. One, you have my personal statement of faith. One you have my statement of encouraging someone else to have or to accept a position of faith. The third is outright discrimination.
The second is obviously one that is colored by the issue of chain of command that you have been discussing, and I think, all of you, very articulately. It is completely different for me to say that to a colleague versus to say it to an employee. It is virtually different for me to say that to someone that reports to me versus someone who I meet upon the street. But where we cross the line and begin to talk about where someone else might be offended and start drawing rules and regulations and laws based upon what others perceive as offensive communication based upon mine or Tom Cruise's or someone else's statement of their religious faith, we are, in fact, degrading our rights, not protecting rights.
So I would like the panel to talk for a second because I believe this issue of offense is incredibly important, and I will give you an example before I ask you the question. I was at a state university in my state, and I was at an arts building. And in the foyer of the arts building there was a head of Buddha the size of a Toyota SUV. And I said to someone who is a professor there, if you took down Buddha and you put up a crucifix, would people be offended? And he said, well, of course because people would feel that it is a religious symbol. Well, Buddha is a religious symbol. The issue of where you make it subjective to feelings and offense is when you start to draw rules and regulations that again begin to degrade our rights.
Page 73 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I would like for you to talk for a moment about the instance, the issue ofcertainly none of you would suggest that we should govern our religious speech based upon someone else's offense, offense being something that has no injury, no context of discrimination.
Chaplain WILLIAMSON. First I would like to put back in context again the proselytizing issue. And I think I said, I believe there is not a place for proselytizing in the Air Force if you understand proselytizing to be coercive.
Mr. TURNER. That is not the definition. The definition of Webster is to induce someone to convert to one's faith. The whole fact that you had to say ''coercive proselytizing'' means that the word ''coercive'' is not part of the word ''proselytizing.'' so to say that it doesn't belong in the Air Force is to say thatand then to attach another word to it changes its meaning, in my opinion.
Chaplain WILLIAMSON. We can disagree agreeably about that. But I said if you understand ''coercive'' to be ''proselytizing,'' then proselytizing is never appropriate. That was my comment, if I may stand corrected. Also, in the folder I gave you, we have our NAFMC code of ethics that you might want to refer to that is taught in the Air Force Chaplain school, and it is expectedit is not a legal document for people to sign up to, but we have sort of an affirmative kind of agreement to it. And the third from last statement says, I will not proselytize from other religious bodies, but I retain the right to evangelize those who are not affiliated.
Mr. TURNER. My question to you was, rules and regulations based upon the perception of someone else's offense. I think my statement to you hopefully clearly was, I believe, that we should not look at rules and regulations based upon the fear of offending someone. We should have fear of discrimination. We should have fear of encroaching upon religious expression. But we should not try to fashion rules and regulations based upon someone else's feeling response upon hearing communication of someone's statement of religious belief. Do you all agree or disagree with that?
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Chaplain WILLIAMSON. I agree totally with that statement.
Reverend LESLIE. I don't know that anyone is suggesting that statement. I would like to add a fourth tier, if you will, to
Mr. TURNER. Well first, tell me whether or not, does that mean you agree with that? That is my concern. My concern is that we not go down that path.
Mrs. DRAKE. Dr. Leslie, if you could just respond to that because that time has expired.
Mr. TURNER. Do you agree.
Reverend LESLIE. I am not understanding your question, sir.
Mr. TURNER. May I ask the chairwoman for time to restate it so that sheit is my concernfirst off, we all want to protect individuals from discrimination based upon religious belief. We also want to protect the free expression of religion. My concern is that we do not want to fashion rules and regulations where the standard is to protect individuals from their own feelings of offense based upon hearing from others' religious expression. Would you agree that we would not want to go there?
Reverend LESLIE. I would agree as long as we are recognizing it is in the context of unit cohesion, yes.
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Mrs. DRAKE. Thank you.
Mr. TURNER. Thank you.
Mrs. DRAKE. Did any of you, as panelists, want to respond to a question but you could not respond to? And then Dr. Snyder has an extra question. And then we are going to wrap up. I know it has been offered for you to be able with the five-minute rule that some of you may have had some issues you wanted to respond to. General Brady, did you?
General BRADY. Yes. I will give you a few sound bites. There have been a whole list of changes that took place at the Academy, in response to different concerns that were expressed, including the Yale memo. And they include, most, the centerpiece of which probably was the respect for respecting spiritual values of all people, so there has been a response to that.
I would also like to say that there is noI think we are all in violent agreement that taking advantage of your position when you are in a superior subordinate relationship is wrong. Period.
I also think it is important to say, I have been a little bit concerned about the implication that this is happening to every cadet, every cadet at the Academy is experiencing that. That is not true. There has beenand I think I want to take this one on too. There has been questions on a number of cases of what is the difference between what General Rosa said and what I said. The only really noteworthy difference between General Rosa and me is that he is younger and decidedly better looking, which I find annoying. But on this issue, there is no daylight between us.
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General Rosa is an operational commander. When he sees something that he thinks is wrong, he is going to fix it and he will probably assume that it is everywhere. I was asked to look atand he should. I was asked to look at and take the pulse and say what is this environment like? And I saw very much what General Rosa says. And we may use slightly different words. But we have seen the same thing. He saw some of this issue in every major part of the Academy. But within each major part of the Academy, he did not find it to be persuasive. So in other words, it is not being experienced on athletic team or in every department. It is not being discussed in every cadet squadron. So this is something that I think requires some balance. Thank you.
Mrs. DRAKE. Thank you, General.
Chaplain WILLIAMSON. Yes. Just a couple things quickly, if you don't mind. I think the issue of accommodation, I am surprised we haven't dealt with as much as we have free exercise here, and I think that it is a fundamental issue of the problems. I think if we had accommodated it in better ways with our people at the Academy, we may not have even been here at this point. My perspective and our team's perspective is for those who are Sunday-type religious people, the accommodation issues for worship are built into the system. For those who are non-Sunday people, you have to fight, petition and work to get it.
I will not forget for a long time talking to a female Jewish cadet who said she came to the Academy as a devout Jewish person and had asked to go to her services and was told by those over her flight, that, well, we are doing something at this particular time. Ask again. She tried three times. And at the third time, she got a pass. And after she got her pass, she went up to get dressed to go to the worship service, and on her way down the steps was confronted by the person supervising the flight at the time and said, well, we are just getting ready to do such and such. She said, I just quietly went upstairs, took my clothes off, got back in my uniform and never asked again.
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To me, that is a mistake. And it is lack of accommodation. So it seems to me if we are going to do religious accommodation for all people, we ought to have equal access for all people on a level playing field that if I am a non-Sunday person, I shouldn't have to ask anyone more than you, as a Sunday person, should.
Second, I, in our conference, would fight to the end to of defend a clergyman's or chaplain's right to preach a consistent message with his denomination or faith tradition in a voluntary setting. And I think that is one of the differences between a voluntary setting and a mandatory setting. Hopefully even in the voluntary setting, I can find a way to preach consistently or speak consistently with my religious tradition, and still be sensitive to maybe some variations of those who are there. So I don't offend but I include people for unit cohesion ultimately and for the grander purpose.
Thank you very much.
Mrs. DRAKE. Thank you, Dr. Leslie do you have anything?
Reverend LESLIE. Yes one clarifying comment, Chaplain Watties, who is a fine chaplain, who in the midst of basic cadet training, exhorted his congregation to go back into the tent and to proselytize. And the concern in that is not that he doesn't have the right to profess his faith in the context. The problem is with the level of power he has, going back into the environment, to suggest to the cadets that they change other people's faith tradition, in fact, creates a problem for unit cohesion. So just as Chaplain Williamson suggests, it becomes a concern of unit cohesion and good order and discipline.
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Mrs. DRAKE. Thank you. Dr. Snyder for a final question.
Dr. SNYDER. You essentially asked my question, Madam Chairwoman. Dr. Leslie, it is speak now or forever hold your peace time. I haven't seen a lot of daylight between you and General Brady today in this report. Is that a fair statement? Are you satisfied that the Air Force is on the right track here in the direction that they are going?
Reverend LESLIE. I am encouraged that the Air Force continues to look at it, I recognize I have some high expectations for the Air Force because I think they have high expectations for themselves. So I am encouraged in the direction they are going in and look forward to they have talked about a number of next steps, and I look forward to a clear enunciation of what those next steps will be.
Dr. SNYDER. Thank you all.
Mrs. DRAKE. I would like to thank each and every one of you for being here today. It has certainly been very enlightening to hear your comments. We look forward to working with you, making sure that the issue is properly addressed. And it was encouraging that people truly realize that what we are looking for here is a balance.
I would like to tell all three of you though that you probably will receive some questions in the mail from the committee. We will leave it open to committee members to submit other questions to you. And we would certainly appreciate if you would respond to those for us.
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Thank you very much for being here today. And I ask unanimous consent that two statements be entered for the record. One statement is from the Anti-Defamation League. And one is in from Chaplain Captain Melinda Morton, United States Air Force.
[The information referred to can be found in the Appendix on pages 47 and 59.]
Thank you and the meeting is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 5 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X
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PREPARED STATEMENTS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD
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DOCUMENTS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD
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