The God & Country Festival has been held in Nampa Idaho since 1967. Part of the festival honors past and current members of the armed forces and last year, like every year, they requested a flyover from the U.S. Air Force. However for 2009 the request was denied.
The question is why the change?
The e-mails flying around the Internet are blaming Obama (next I expect to see him blamed for killing cock robin and burning Rome) but the president doesn’t get involved in such minutia.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has a policy which prohibits the military’s support of events that “provide a selective benefit to any individual, group or organization, including any religious or sectarian organization.”
This policy has been in place since 2001 so why the refusal for the first time in 2009?
According to the Pentagon the nature of the event has changed. Where previously it focused more upon patriotism it now focuses more upon the religious aspects.
When organizers were asked about the nature of the event they said “Our mission is primarily about spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ” and the festival is “unashamedly a Christian event.”
So that clearly puts the festival under the DoD prohibition. Simply having one part of an openly religious function honor military veterans doesn’t change the nature of the function.
A flyover here would be roughly equivalent to a flyover of the Pope celebrating mass in Yankee Stadium.
Is it possible the Air Force group responsible for approving flyovers is less likely to approve an event with religious overtones given the secular outlook of the current administration than it was under a supposedly more religious administration like Bush’s?
It’s more than possible it’s damn well likely but that doesn’t change the situation. Objectively even the organizers of the event declare it religious in nature and therefore, based upon the DoD policy, no military participation is allowed. Under the principal of the Separation of Church and State, this is also the correct policy.
Christian organizations in this country are so used to getting special treatment they think they’re actually entitled to it which they aren’t. I’m surprised the Air Force isn’t being accused of persecuting them.