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Air Force chaplain allegedly denied new position after converting to Judaism

May 9, 2018

An Air Force officer and former evangelical Christian chaplain was discriminated against both when he converted to Orthodox Judaism and when his recent application to become a Jewish chaplain was rejected, according to the religious freedom organization now representing him.

Capt. Jeff Montanari, a former enlisted airman, became an officer and a chaplain in the Air Force Reserve in 2010, endorsed by the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. He was assigned to March Air Reserve Base in California.

In 2012, he transferred to a position in the California Air National Guard, and was subsequently also appointed as a full-time Air Guard Technician from mid-2013 through 2015. In 2014, he also began concurrently serving as a chaplain in the Civil Air Patrol.

Montanari made it a focal point of his ministry to serve the Jewish community at March, according to First Liberty Institute, a law firm dedicated to defending religious freedom, which is now representing him. He provided the first Messianic Jewish Seder presentation in support of the Jewish high holy day of Passover and helped Jewish men and women at the base with their kosher dietary requests and other requests for religious accommodation.

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