Officials at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Virginia, removed several posters after the National Organization for Women and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation said they were sexist and overly religious.
The foundation, on behalf of 16 clients, first filed its complaint about two posters that featured language from a 1955 Air Force manual that frequently references “faith,” according to The Virginian-Pilot.
The Air Force, however, dismissed the complaint about religion. According to the Air Combat Command, “The display does not endorse, disapprove of, or extend preferential treatment for any faith, belief, or absence of belief.”
One of the posters featured the following quote:
Men cannot live without faith except for brief moments of anarchy or despair. Faith leads to conviction – and convictions lead to actions. It is only a man of deep convictions, a man of deep faith, who will make the sacrifices needed to save his manhood.
It is obvious that our enemy will attack us at our weakest spot. The hole in our armor is our lack of faith. We need to revive a fighting faith by which we can live, and for which we would be willing even to die.
But after the first complaint was dismissed, the National Organization for Women submitted a second complaint. NOW alleged that the posters’ use of the words “man” as a generic term for human beings was inherently sexist.
“What message does that send to young women who currently serve, or want to serve, in the military?” the organization’s president, Terry O’Neill, wrote in a statement. “What do you say to the women in your command who make the same sacrifices to protect their country as do men?”
“General, there is simply no compromise when it comes to fighting the bigotry of sexism nor the prejudice of religious triumphalism,” she continued. “Women are just as patriotic, just as dedicated and just as worthy of our nation’s trust as their male counterparts.”
After receiving that complaint, the Air Force buckled under the pressure, and chose to remove seven posters featured at Langley Air Force Base.
“With additional time to review all seven posters outside the narrower, primarily religious context of the original complaint about two of them,” Air Combat Command spokeswoman Maj. Malinda Singleton told the Pilot, “we concluded the gendered language used in the display interfered with intended messages about personal integrity.”
“We’ve chosen to update the display with something that reflects the diverse and inclusive force we are today,” she added.
Singleton said it’s not yet clear when the new display will be put up.