AFA Religious Guidelines

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The Air Force is discouraging public prayer at official functions, and urging commanders to be sensitive about personal expressions of religious faith.

The guidelines for religious tolerance released today apply to the entire Air Force.

They don't ban public prayer outright, and say short, nonsectarian prayers may be included in special ceremonies or events -- but only to lend a sense of solemnity and not to promote specific beliefs. The document directs chaplains to -- quote -- "respect the rights of others to their own religious beliefs, including the right to hold no beliefs."

The new guidelines follow allegations that evangelical Christians wield so much influence at the Air Force Academy near Colorado Springs -- that anti-Semitism and other forms of religious harassment have become pervasive.

he guidelines also do not bar personal discussions of religion, including discussions between commanders and subordinates.

Rob Boston is the spokesman for Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

He says the test will be whether the new rules are implemented.