WARNER ROBINS, Ga. (Christian Examiner) -- Robins Air Force Base reversed a ban Thursday that earlier this week forbid service members from greeting visitors with the phrase, "Have a blessed day."
Officials initially said the phrase was banned because it violated Air Force regulations that prohibit endorsement of religion, but Thursday evening officials released a statement indicating gate guards are again free to impart the greeting if they so choose.
"The Air Force takes any expressed concern over religious freedom very seriously. Upon further review and consultation, the Air Force determined use of the phrase 'have a blessed day' as a greeting is consistent with Air Force standards and is not in violation of Air Force Instructions," read a statement
blessed [adjective bless·ed ?ble-s?d] 1: having a sacred nature : connected with God 2: very welcome, pleasant, or appreciated 3: used to make a statement more forceful
Officials on base said: "We are a professional organization defended by a professional force. Our defenders portray a professional image that represents a base all of Middle Georgia can be proud of. Defenders have been asked to use the standard phrase 'Welcome to Team Robins' in their greeting and can add various follow-on greetings as long as they remain courteous and professional."
According to Atlanta news station WMAZ the decision came after members of the community voiced outraged over the ban and complained both in person and online.
WMAZ's website featured statements from individuals who work at the base explaining their use of the greeting.
"It's kind of like waving to everyone ... When you are wishing someone well, you're saying it from the heart," Carmon Robertson an aircraft structural sheet metal mechanic at the base told the news station.
The anti-Christian Military Religious Freedom Foundation initially submitted the complaint which led officials to the brief ban of the greeting Monday.
Mikey Weinstein, MRFF founder and president claimed he was unsurprised by Air Force officials' decision, The AirForce Times reported.
"Whenever the Air Force is pushed to the test, they will cater to the religious right," Weinstein told the publication. He also suggested allowing the greeting could open Pandora's box since statements of other faiths must also be allowed.
"This an example where it's fine to say, 'Welcome to Team Robins,' but, as I said before, what are you going to do if the gate guards say: 'Welcome to Team Robins, hail Satan!'"
Weinstein called the reversal a "vicious savaging of the constitutional protections that are afforded by the First Amendment along with Department of Defense regulations."
He voiced plans to consult legal counsel over the matter. "The Air Force has not heard the last of this," he said. His initial complaint claimed the greeting is an issue of the separation of church and state.