April 09, 2014
Group calls for answers about Air Force Academy religious liberty abuses
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Family Research Council (FRC) and members of the Restore Military Religious Freedom Coalition (RMRFC) have written a letter to Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson, superintendent of the U.S. Air Force Academy, asking about a recent incident in which a Bible verse was removed from a white board. This was done despite official academy policy, which permits the use of white boards for personal messages.
In the letter, the Coalition asks for a meeting with Lt. Gen. Johnson to discuss what this incident means for religious liberty in the Air Force. The RMRFC is a coalition of organizations dedicated to defending religious expression in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Two excerpts from the letter read:
"As a general matter, somewhere along the way the Air Force and the Academy seem to have adopted a novel view of American law regarding the First Amendment and freedom of speech and expression - particularly, religious speech. While it is certainly true that there are occasions in which military necessity requires that 'the good of the entire unit' be placed above that of the interests of 'any single individual,' the incident involving the cadet, his white board, and the Bible verse written on it cannot be construed to be one of them - even remotely.
"We believe the Academy has overstepped its constitutional and statutory bounds in the incident involving the cadet's white board. This is not a minor matter. The Academy's actions and policy pronouncements, unless quickly corrected, will continue to chill speech at the Academy, harm morale, and create unnecessary confusion for cadets. Thus, we urge you to obtain more objective analyses of the First Amendment issues involved here and correct the errors that have been made."