Christian U.S. Air Force Officer May Face Punishment for Saying Jesus Influences His Decisions

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Kersten, 39th Medical Support Squadron commander, poses for a photo inside the medical facility at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, on Aug. 23, 2016.(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman John Nieves Camacho)

A Christian U.S. Air Force officer based in Turkey may face punishment for saying that he relies on Jesus Christ whenever he makes a decision.

According to a report from The Christian Examiner, Lt. Col. Michael Kersten is under fire from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), a nonprofit civil rights organisation, for publicly proclaiming his faith in God.

MRFF President and former Air Force lawyer Mikey Weinstein recently sent a letter to the leadership of the 39th Air Base Wing at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey demanding that Kersten be publicly reprimanded, "visibly punished," and forced to apologise for his actions.

The MRFF particularly took offence at an article featuring Kersten, where the Air Force officer was asked if there was a leader from his career that influenced him the most.

Responding to the question, Kersten said: "There's no one in particular. As a Christian, my example is to be like Christ. He is my guide and affects all of my decisions. He teaches to do all things as unto the Lord and I believe this is synonymous with integrity first and excellence in all we do."

Weinstein said these remarks from Kersten violated military regulations prohibiting officers from favouring a particular religion.

He also described Kersten's answer as "Christian exceptionalism" and "Christian triumphalism," while questioning the Air Force officer's capacity to make sound decisions.

"By unequivocally stating to the world that all of his decisions are based upon his Christian faith, he has broadcast to his otherwise helpless subordinates, and the multitudes of other military and civilian members which the Air Force Squadron he now commands directly and indirectly serves, that he will, in a professional setting, place decision-making primacy on his personal version of his Christian religious faith over his official military duty," Weinstein said in his letter.

The MRFF leader further said that by saying that he relies on Jesus Christ for his decisions, Kersten is effectively insinuating that "his exclusivist Christian faith is synonymous with two of the three Air Force official core values."