Air Force Academy removes Bible verse from cadet’s whiteboard
Selected Article Excerpts:
- The Air Force Academy removed a Bible verse posted on a cadet’s whiteboard after it determined the posting had offended other cadets, a spokesman for the academy said.
The cadet wrote the passage on the whiteboard posted outside his room. “I have been crucified with Christ therefore I no longer live, but Christ lives in me,” the verse from Galatians read.
Mikey Weinstein, director of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, told me 29 cadets and four faculty and staff members contacted his organization to complain about the Christian passage.
“Had it been in his room – not a problem,” Weinstein told me. “It’s not about the belief. It’s about the time, the place and the manner.”
He said the Bible verse on the cadet’s personal whiteboard created a hostile environment at the academy.
- Weinstein said he immediately contacted the Air Force Academy and filed a complaint. Exactly two hours and nine minutes later, the Bible verse had been scrubbed from the cadet’s whiteboard.
A spokesman for the AFA confirmed that the religious text was cleansed from the board.
Weinstein told me the Air Force Academy did a good job in fixing the problem and credited Lt. Col. Denise Cooper.
“She immediately said this is wrong and will use it as a teachable moment,” he said.
- “It’s not a gray area, this is absolute misconduct,” he said. “Not only should the cadet be punished but (also) his/her responsible USAFA cadet and officer chain of command who ignored this blatant and egregious violation of Air Force regulation 1-1 and the United States Constitution.”
The 1-1 regulation Weinstein cited is an extensive document with a section on religious proselytizing and other religious matters.
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Bible verse gets Mikey going, again
Selected Article Excerpts:
- About a month ago, a top leader at the Air Force Academy gave a resounding endorsement to Air Force Regulation 1-1, which we reported on here. Dean of Faculty Brig. Gen. Andy Armacost essentially reminded faculty and staff that the Air Force regulation bars the endorsement of one religion over another and proselytizing among the ranks.
- Perhaps he should deliver the same lecture to cadets, in light of a message one cadet scrawled on a board outside his room.
- To the academy’s credit, when several people at the academy reported the Bible verse to Military Religious Freedom Foundation director Mikey Weinstein, and he in turn contacted the academy, the verse was removed. The officer with whom Weinstein dealt called it a “teachable moment.”
- But Weinstein is baffled as to why someone at the academy didn’t report the verse directly to leadership. He suggests that lack of reporting demonstrates that not all is well at the academy, which has been under fire for years for favoring fundamentalist Christianity.
- “How many walked by and looked at this?” Weinstein asks. He adds that 33 people at the academy — 29 cadets and 4 faculty and staff — reported it to MRFF but didn’t feel comfortable reporting it to leadership.
- That underscores Weinstein’s contention that the climate at the academy remains hostile to anyone who doesn’t buy in to the fundamentalist point of view.
- The Bible verse was up for two hours and nine minutes, he says, before it was removed after his call.
- He blames Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson for not driving the point home and backing up the regulation with punishment for violators.
- Asked to address the issue, Maj. Brus Vidal, academy spokesman, says this via e-mail:We don’t see misconduct here but the division between your personal room and the hallway is a gray area. The whiteboards are for both official and personal use, but when a concern was raised we addressed it and the comment was taken down. We also don’t know who posted the message.