- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 17, 2014

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are pushing back at the Air Force’s crackdown on religious expression, penning a letter that requests the military branch adopt what they say is a more constitutional policy regarding First Amendment freedoms, especially for cadets.

Twenty-two congressional members signed the letter to Secretary of the Air Force Deborah James, asking for a softening of rules that require leaders to avoid any “actual or apparent use of their position” to show support for a particular religion, The Hill reported.

The letter states the policy “limits on free speech and religion of those in leadership are both unnecessary and unconstitutional,” and the “apparent use” standard is much too ambiguous to abide, according to The Hill.

“The First Amendment makes it very clear that the free exercise of religion is not to be prohibited under any circumstances,” Rep. Walter Jones said in an issued statement. “We must ensure that our service members are not prevented from enjoying the same freedoms that they have committed to defend and protect.”

The petition comes on the heels of an Air Force cadet’s complaint that he was forced to remove a religious citation he penned on a board at his dormitory. It also follows high-profile incidents in recent months of the Air Force removing mention of God from cadets’ honor oath and taking down seasonal nativity scenes at certain bases.

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