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Essay Religion vs Duty: Ronnie's Rules

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In 2005 the Air Force was devastated by allegations of religious harassment and discrimination at the Air Force Academy. Seven years later, Air Force leaders are still struggling to find an appropriate balance that will continue to allow airmen their religious freedom while honoring their commitment to duty. The debate over religion and duty came to the forefront again in February when Lt. Gen. Ronnie Hawkins gave a presentation titled “Ronnie’s Rules” at his first commander’s call. In it included two references to God. The first was when he stated, “Always put God first and stay within his will,” and the second, “Always remember God is good,” concluded his brief. Some members of Lt. Gen. Hawkins staff were offended by his brief and reported him to a military watchdog group known as the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. Airmen throughout the service have mixed reactions towards “Ronnie’s Rules.” Some have said that he should be allowed to talk about his personal beliefs, while others viewed this as undue pressure on subordinates to follow his faith. It is these types of views that are dividing the Air Force.
Dozens of airmen were offered the opportunity to voice their opinions about “Ronnie’s Rules” and religion in the Air Force. Christian airman and those who do not believe in a god or practice religion are both walking on egg shells. No one from either side of the line wants to offend people from the other side, especially their supervisors. Air Force leaders remain on a neutral stance regarding freedom of religion in the service, but its members encounter situations that make them uncomfortable daily. SSgt Calvin Smith wrote in one survey, “I have seen leadership ask everyone to ‘bow their heads and pray’ whi...


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...ias Charges at Academy. CNN. Retrieved
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Rehberg, C. D. (1998). Is Character Still an Issue? Retrieved from http://www.airpower.
Au.af.mil/airchronicles/ apj/apj98/spr98/rehberg.html
Staff. (2005). Leaders Announce Religious Guidelines. The Tinker Take Off, 63, 38. Retrieved
from http:// journalrecord.com/tinkertakeoff/2005/09/23/leaders-announce-religious-
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Stavrevsky, J. K. (n.d.). A Spiritual Foundation for Air Force Core Values. Retrieved from
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The Little Blue Book. (1997, January). United States Air Force Core Values.
Ward, A. M. (2012). Core Values: Key Ingredients for the Perfect Airman. Retrieved from http://
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