As recently as a couple of years ago, the U.S. Air Force made clear that “when a flag folding ceremony is desired and conducted by Air Force personnel at any location, on or off an installation, this script is the only one that may be used.” They were referring to a secular script drenched in patriotism.
The alternative, which the Air Force said could be used at “personal ceremonies as long as the participants are volunteers,” was explicitly Christian.
Here’s the dilemma: Which version did you have to use at a personal retirement ceremony at an Air Force base when military officials were involved? (Was that a public or private event?)
That was the question at the heart of a 2016 controversy.
When retired Senior Master Sgt. Oscar Rodriguez gave the flag-folding speech at his friend’s retirement ceremony at Travis Air Force Base in April of that year, he used the Christian version of the speech. But because he was supposed to use the secular version, he was disobeying protocol and essentially removed from the ceremony by force.
It certainly didn’t make for good optics, but the question remained: If Air Force personnel were involved in a flag-folding ceremony on an Air Force base, was that an official event with secular rules or a private event where Christianity could be promoted?
As of June of 2016, the secular flag-folding script is no longer mandated by the military. You can say whatever you’d like during that ritual.
Read the full story at the Friendly Atheist Blog