Two soldiers claim they were assaulted by members of the U.S. Air Force for talking about God during a retirement ceremony.
Though many liberals push for the separation of church and state, the military typically boasts more religious tolerance.
And now, the two soldiers are fighting back for their mistreatment–leading to a messy lawsuit.
Airmen reportedly assaulted Oscar Rodriguez Jr. and forcibly dragged him out of a retirement ceremony for mentioning God during a flag folding ceremony honoring retiree Chuck Roberson.
The Air Force refused to conduct an investigation into the allegations of assault and violations of Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights.
Liberty Institute later filed a lawsuit on behalf of both Rodriguez and Roberson as a result of their failure.
But now, Roberson and Rodriguez are filing their own suit–and the lawsuit will get messy.
The Daily Caller reported:
“They had conducted a separate investigation into our claims of First Amendment violations, and in their investigation into the first amendment violations, they said that they were conducting a separate investigation into our allegations of assault and that they had violated the Fourth and Fifth Amendment,” First Liberty Institute Military Affairs Director Mike Berry told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Berry requested at the time to see the results of the secondary investigation. Berry would receive the results once the investigations was completed, Air Force officials replied. Berry subsequently filed a lawsuit against the Air Force for withholding information about the investigation in response to a FOIA request filed in December 2016. The Air Force admitted to the court, however, they had not withheld the results of the investigation because they had not, in fact, conducted the investigation, Berry told The DCNF.
“We resolved the FOIA lawsuit, and the Air Force, in that lawsuit, admitted to us and to the court that it wasn’t that they had withheld the results of the investigation; it was that they did not actually conduct the investigation. So that was kind of a shock to us,” Berry told The DCNF.
The Air Force ultimately claims Rodriguez’s removal was due to a lack of authorization to participate in the ceremony, as his speech did not conform to Air Force regulations.
Rodriguez was still told to attend the ceremony, with Roberson asking him to perform the flag folding ceremony.
Roberson also knew Rodriguez would invoke God–another reason he asked for him personally.
The Daily Caller continued:
Roberson knew Rodriguez would invoke God — one of the reasons he wanted Rodriguez to perform the flag folding ceremony. The Air Force also issued a statement later in 2016 saying religious speech during the flag folding ceremony, such as the one Rodriguez attempted, was permitted.
“Air Force personnel may use a flag folding ceremony script that is religious for retirement ceremonies,” the statement read, according to Air Force Times.
But the Air Force’s statement was false, given the actual regulations governing official retirement ceremonies at the time, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation claimed. The Air Force’s script for the ceremony “is the only one that may be used,” the regulations stated.
The Air Force has since revised those regulations.
“The official flag folding script (Figure A.3.2.) is not required and has been deleted,” a 2017 revision of the Flag Folding ceremony regulation states.
Leave us your thoughts in the comments section below.