The Air Force Academy has once again found itself in the spotlight over attempts to prevent its cadets from expressing their religious faith. The Conservative News Service reported that officials at the Academy removed a Bible verse that had been placed on a residence whiteboard by a cadet after the atheist group Military Religious Freedom Foundation claimed that other cadets had complained that they were offended by the scripture.
While the whiteboard had been designated by the academy for both personal and official use, Air Force Academy officials bowed to pressure from the atheist organization's founder, Mickey Weinstein, who appointed himself spokesman for a supposed group of 29 cadets whom Weinstein claimed were offended by the presence of Galatians 2:20 on the whiteboard.
The scripture, placed there by an unnamed cadet, read: “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
Weinstein insisted to Fox News that had the Christian cadet displayed the scripture in his room, “not a problem. It's not about the belief. It's about the time, the place, and the manner.”
Making a case for his intrusion into the academy's business, Weinstein claimed to Fox's Todd Starnes that the verse turned the otherwise orderly academy into a hostile environment. “It clearly elevated one religious faith over all others at an already virulently hyper-fundamentalist Christian institution,” said Weinstein. “It massively poured fundamentalist Christian gasoline on an already raging out-of-control conflagration of fundamentalist Christian tyranny, exceptionalism, and supremacy at USAFA.”
Weinstein has targeted the Air Force Academy in the past over issues of religious expression by service members. Last October he complained about the presence of the phrase “so help me God” in the honor oath taken by all incoming freshmen cadets at the Academy. The next month the Academy's superintendent, Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson, revealed to enraged congressmen that she had indeed caved in to the pressure from atheist complainers and dropped the phrase.
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Photo of U.S. Air Force Academy cadets in formation with Cadet Chapel in background: AP Images