What can I say and do in uniform as an atheist or humanist activist?
Service members should at a minimum contact their local commanders and public affairs personnel for official advice. Service members should also look around and avoid imitating the types of public speaking activities they disagree with. Also consider the following types of speaking: Speaking in uniform is different than out of uniform. Speaking topics could include personal military experiences, comments on religious feelings, complaining about military decisions, etc. Speakers could be active duty, deployed, reservists, veterans, retired, etc. Military status, speaking topic, and dress code are all significant.
The Federal Government regulates the activities of service members in and out of uniform. The US Code, DOD Regulations, individual service regulations, and, where applicable, foreign national military regulations, hold the power of law. This policy is intended to promote legal activity.
MAAF members should at no time present the appearance that they are speaking as a representative of the military, the government, or MAAF without prior approval. Including one’s rank, title, or making reference to one’s service may do that, but in general those things are acceptable so long as they include the disclaimer that the comments are about personal experience and not official statements. Service members are generally restricted to speaking out of uniform, off post, and outside the duty day.
At a minimum, military personnel should seek counsel when participating in any activist event in uniform.
Military personnel often attend religious events and engage in religious speech in uniform, thus giving the appearance of government promotion of religion. However, those violations do not justify similar activities on our part.