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Religion Today Blog Christian Blog and Commentary

Airman Faces Censure over Support for Biblical Marriage

  • Bonnie Pritchett
    Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world
  • 2017 Apr 07
  • Comments

A 26-year U.S. Air Force veteran is battling an official admonishment from his commanding officer over allegedly disparaging remarks he made about homosexuality more than four years ago.

A letter of admonition detailing the accusation, filed with no warning or opportunity for Col. Michael Madrid to respond, is a stain on the decorated airman’s record and could cost him future promotions, his attorney said.

Maj. Gen. John McCoy, then-acting commander of Air Education and Training Command (AETC) at Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio, filed the 2016 letter of admonishment indicating he had new information in a two-year-old settled and closed investigation of Madrid from another base. Mike Berry, an attorney with First Liberty representing Madrid, said he is at a loss as to why McCoy acted on the closed case or how he even knew about it. Berry said McCoy’s actions violate military and federal law denying Madrid due process. Berry has demanded the admonition letter be rescinded.

“Major Gen. McCoy has no right to ignore the rule of law and arbitrarily decide, more than two years later and without any new evidence, that he can punish Col. Madrid,” Berry said.

Madrid, a flight surgeon, currently serves as chief of aerospace medicine for the 355th Medical Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona. He transferred from Randolph Air Force Base in 2016 shortly after McCoy filed the letter.

In 2012, during Madrid’s tenure at Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming, an airman working with Madrid came under investigation for multiple criminal offenses and was court martialed. Prosecutors never called Madrid to testify in the case but the airman under investigation, who is gay, accused Madrid of making disparaging remarks about homosexuality in violation of military workplace codes.

Following a 2014 inquiry, investigators could not substantiate the allegations and closed the inquiry.

Legal documents released by First Liberty hint Madrid may have said something deemed offensive but not actionable. Berry said Madrid has always been open about his Christian faith and the moral standards he draws from it, including his belief that marriage is between a man and a woman.

“Our concern is that when Col. Madrid candidly told the [Warren AFB] investigator that he holds a Biblical view of marriage and sexuality, some witnesses claimed that is derogatory or discriminatory,” Berry told me. “Maj. Gen. McCoy appears to have reached that conclusion, too.  In fact, Col. Madrid was verbally warned after the investigation that talking about aspects of his Christian faith could be considered offensive or derogatory.”

McCoy never questioned Madrid about the old case or even indicated to Madrid he had reviewed it. McCoy has not responded to requests for an explanation from Madrid and his attorneys, they said.

But this is not the first time a Christian airman serving under the Air Education and Training Command (AETC) in San Antonio has been the target of an investigation for his views on Biblical marriage.

At Lackland Air Force Base in 2013, Maj. Elisa Valenzuela fired Senior Master Sgt. Phillip Monk following a heated conversation in which Monk would not affirm same-sex marriage. At that time, Valenzuela, a lesbian, was in a relationship with another woman.

Berry defended Monk in that case, which almost led to a court martial but ended in his exoneration.

The two cases, out of the same AETC office, represent an increasing hostility toward outspoken Christians within the military, Berry said, noting “if someone with stars on their shoulders” does not like what a subordinate says or thinks, the commanding officer can take measures to silence Christian voices.

“The trend is disturbing,” Berry told me.

 

Courtesy: WORLD News Service

Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com

Publication date: April 7, 2017