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Group wants two-star court-martialed for speech

May 15, 2015 (Photo Credit: Screen shot)

An Air Force two-star general is being blasted by a civil liberties group for speaking in uniform about how God has guided his career.

Video posted on YouTube shows Maj. Gen. Craig Olson speaking at a National Day of Prayer Task Force event May 7. In the speech, Olson refers to himself as a "redeemed believer in Christ," who credits God for his accomplishments in the Air Force.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation has called for Olson to be "aggressively and very visibly brought to justice for his unforgivable crimes and transgressions" by a court-martial, adding that any other service members who helped him should be investigated and punished "to the full extent of military law."

Olson is program executive officer for C3I and Networks at Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts.

During his 23-minute address, Olsen spoke of "flying complex aircraft; doing complex nuclear missions — I have no ability to do that. God enabled me to do that."

"He put me in charge of failing programs worth billions of dollars. I have no ability to do that, no training to do that. God did that. He sent me to Iraq to negotiate foreign military sales deals through an Arabic interpreter. I have no ability to do that. I was not trained to do that. God did all of that."

At the end of his speech, Olson asks the audience to pray for Defense Department leaders, who "need to humbly depend on Christ." He also asks them to pray for troops preparing to deploy again so they can "bear through that by depending on Christ."

The speech was live-streamed by GOD TV online and recorded by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said Chris Rodda, senior research director for the group. Video on the National Day of Prayer Task Force's website does not include Olson's speech because it only shows three hours of the four-hour event and his speech was at the end.

Mikey Weinstein, CEO of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, has sent a blistering letter to Chief of Staff Gen, Mark Welsh, arguing that Olson's comments violate an Air Force instruction, which prohibits airmen from endorsing a particular faith or belief.

"Olson's highly publicized, sectarian speech is nothing less than a brutal disgrace to the very uniform he was wearing and the solemn oath he took to support and defend the United States Constitution," Weinstein writes. "This public address was his, and the USAF's, 'contribution' to this scathingly sectarian 2015 version of the [task force's] annual shame spectacle and display of Christian supremacy and exceptionalism held in the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill."

Attempts to reach Olson were unsuccessful.

A spokesman for the National Day of Prayer Task Force said that the event where Olson spoke was hosted by U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Ala.

"All invitations to those actively serving in the United States military are coordinated through the Congressman's office," Dion Elmore said in an email to Air Force Times.

Aderholt's office did not respond to a request for comment.

Welsh is traveling, said his spokesman, who did not know if Welsh has seen Weinstein's letter.

"I can tell you the Air Force places a high value on the rights of its members to observe the tenets of their respective religion or to observe no religion at all," Lt. Col. Allen Herritage said in an email. "The Air Force is dedicated to maintaining an environment in which people can realize their highest potential."

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