Chief AF chaplain Richardson visits Mildenhall, talks of faith, deployment
RAF MILDENHALL, England — The Air Force’s top man of God, Chaplain Maj. Gen. Cecil Richardson — insisting he was lecturing and not preaching — talked Thursday about the power of faith during a National Day of Prayer service at the base chapel.
Richardson’s visit to Mildenhall was part of his jaunt across the pond to visit U.S. bases in the United Kingdom.
The chaplain told the audience that although America may be neutral when it comes to religion, it is hardly neutral when it comes to the "big guy" upstairs. America’s religious diversity dates back to before the country’s founding, he said, when it was a bastion for people seeking religious freedom.
"Every session of Congress is opened in prayer," Richardson said. " ‘In God We Trust’ is on our seals."
He pointed to the story of David versus Goliath, when the diminutive David struck down the mighty Philistine with a sling and a rock, as testament to the power of faith and the importance of having heart.
"He was like Brett Favre on a rollout," Richardson said about David attacking Goliath with that sling. "Had it been on ESPN, they would have played it over and over again and analyzed it.
"The message, my friends, is a message of faith."
Richardson urged the people in the audience to pray, have faith and God will be with them.
"Friends, God has a huge Air Force (of angels), and he’s not downsizing," Richardson said.
During an interview with Stars and Stripes, he discussed how he believes more and more airmen and dependents are turning to chaplains for counseling and guidance during this time of war.
"When you get on that plane and you have a flight, you have lots of time think.
"When you step off of those steps of that plane, one of the first persons you meet, if not the first person, is the chaplain," Richardson said.
Although the chaplain didn’t have numbers, he said he has seen the counseling rate by chaplains go up recently.
And an emphasis is being placed on helping airmen and their families get through deployments with marriage retreats for the spouses to get away together before a deployment and other services, he said.
"We work with marriages, so that when a spouse is deployed, the marriage is prepared for the deployment," Richardson said.
The general said the Air Force must ensure that airmen are able to practice their religion, whether they are Catholic, Jewish, Muslim or any other faith.
"I will make sure that every single person in uniform could practice his or her faith.
"I want our Jewish people to be Jewish and live out their Jewish faith and I want our Muslim people to be truly Muslim and live out their Muslim faith," Richardson said.