My AF Academy Cadet Son Was Right to Be Afraid

To: Mr. Mikey Weinstein and the MRFF

My name is (name withheld) and my wife and our (number withheld) children live in (city and state withheld). We have a son (name withheld) who attends the AF Academy in the Class of 20(last two numbers of USAFA class year withheld) and is currently a member of Cadet Squadron (number withheld). We are members of our local AF Academy Parents Club here in (city withheld). We are practicing (Protestant denomination withheld) and have attended (church name withheld) here in (city name withheld) for many years in fact (number of years withheld).

My wife and I write and ask you to send this on to whom it may concern but especially the head of the AF Academy Gen. Johnson. Please delete any information about our identities. It is because we and our son fear that the AF Academy would try to seek revenge against us for coming forward like this to you and the MRFF. This is the most important thing that we ask you to protect, Mr. Weinstein.

Our son was one of the cadets who came to you for help a few weeks ago. It was when his (course name withheld) instructor, (name and rank withheld) wrote on the blackboard for his whole class to see something that confused and hurt our son and our family too. (name and rank withheld) told the whole class that the “only equation they needed to use to get through this class for the semester” was “1 plus 3 equals 4″. (name and rank withheld) then added some words on the blackboard to the eqation numbers so that the equation now said “1 cross plus three nails equals forgiven.” Our son told us that many in the class were stunned but did not know what to do. The cadet next to my son took a picture of the equation with his phone. We have seen it and I know you have it too. When our son told us what happened later that day we advised him to report it immediately to the AF Academy. He and the other cadets would not do so he told us out of fear of facing retribution. From their professor and many others there he told us. We actually begged him to report this to AF Academy authorities. His mother cried on the phone more than once trying to get him to do this. He and 6 other cadets in that class contacted you and the MRFF. Even you were not able to convince him and the other cadets to come forward due to their fear. But we thank you for being there for them all and their families Mr. Weinstein.

But now we have seen how the AF Academy dealt with the statement e-mailed to you a few days ago by one of its official staffers (Allen Willoughby). “I am on staff at USAFA and will talk about Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior to everyone that I work with.” The AF Academy saw nothing wrong here? Impossible! We are saddened as are many other families in our (city name withheld) Academy Parents Club. We now fully support our son’s and the other cadets’ decision not to come forward to the AF Academy about what their faculty professor (name and rank withheld) wrote on the blackboard. To (son’s name withheld) and the other 6 cadets who came to you and the MRFF the AF Academy’s ruling that what Willoughby wrote to you was acceptable is completely unacceptable. My wife and I feel the same way. So do many others we have talked to in (city name withheld). We would never have believed any of this had we not seen it all happen.

It is clear to us all that if our son and the other cadets had come forward they would have become targets themselves of the religious persecution at the AF Academy. And our son is a (Protestant denomination withheld) himself. He tells us that the other 6 cadets are all Christians too. My wife (name withheld) and I had never really believed all the stories we’d heard about this out of control evangelical Christian pressure at the AF Academy. Then this happened to our own son and the other cadets in his class. It is all too true to us now.

Our son was right to be afraid to come forward. We are also afraid. He feels helpless. We do too.

Thank you for standing up for us all.

(name withheld)


Friends -

I recently learned of your situation through my friend Mikey Weinstein of MRFF. Mikey has done an exceptional job of protecting the anonymity of both you and your cadet, and he will continue to ensure your privacy. So while I don’t know who you are, I want you to know how sorry I am that you have to deal with this terrible stress. More importantly, I want you to know that you are NOT alone.

I am a 1985 graduate of the Academy, so I understand the demands that it can place on cadets… and on their families. It is inappropriate that more pressure is needlessly heaped on all of you by an overzealous, out-of-line instructor. It is completely unacceptable that the administration won’t move decisively to correct such an obvious violation of cadets’ rights.

Like you, I’m a Christian and have practiced my faith my entire life, including while I was at USAFA. But I believe it is vital to oppose a culture that allows authority figures to abuse their position with unwelcome and improper proselytizing. For that reason, I’ve written to Lt. Gen. Johnson twice recently to express my concerns. I will continue to do whatever I can, to be an advocate and vocal supporter of good people like you.

There are many graduates and other friends of the Academy who are on your side in this struggle. I hope you know that. Please let your cadet know, too, that he or she is not alone. If there is anything specific that I can do to help, please don’t hesitate to ask.

(name withheld)

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