Scriptures Written on Personal Erase Boards at Air Force Academy

Thank you, Ms. Miller, for speaking with me yesterday. I am writing, as you suggested, to express my concern over the action MRFF is taking at the Air Force Academy. I cannot understand why your organization would force Christian cadets to remove the Bible verses from their personal dry erase boards. You mentioned that some were offended by these displays. And my question is, “Who of us is not offended by the words and actions of others at one time or another?” I most assuredly am, but I don’t have the right to silence them – because, as of now, we are still a country that has guaranteed freedoms in its founding documents. We were established on Judeo/Christian principles, and the Founding Fathers even prayed and studied Biblical texts in their legislative sessions. So, it seems that MRFF is trying to remove those freedoms that were enshrined for us – one of which is no prohibition of the free exercise of religion. In no way do our written freedoms indicate that our religious convictions are to be confined to the walls of a church. These young men at the academy have the right given to them to post a favorite Scripture on their personal property, and if someone is offended, they can just look the other way. There is no religious coercion involved in this action. The efforts of your organization are undermining the idea of America – a place where people can exercise freedoms, as long as they are not threatening or dangerous to others. The action you are taking at the Academy is depriving American citizens of these freedoms.

(name withheld)


Dear (name withheld),

Our President Mr. Weinstein has asked me to follow up on your recent E-Mail.

I need to begin by posting a 1971 Supreme Court decision regarding religion and the military.

In Lemon Vs. Kurzman 1971, the court held that government, including Public Education and the Armed Forces may not advance, promote, recommend or proselytize one religion over another or religion over non religion.

The young cadet who initiated the white board religious material was in direct violation of that ruling. His was not a general religious statement but rather a very pointed Christian scriptural message which could be construed as a statement to demonstrate Christianity’s superiority to other religions.

Being offended is one thing, having your constitutional rights violated is another.

The idea of sharing your religious beliefs to consenting persons in the privacy of quarters or church is the real American way.

Now there did not seem to be any ill intent with this young man’s actions but he and others of his cadet corps should have been advised of religious procedure in the military.

MRFF’s involvement comes from years of receiving complaints from our young men and women in the armed forced who have been subjected to coercive and often command centered Christian based proselytizing.

We are currently addressing over 40,000 such complaints the majority of which are from self identified Christians.

We hope that you can take into consideration that others in that cadet’s squadron who are subordinate to him felt they could not respond to his message for fear of falling afoul of him and perhaps some other action that could negatively affect their USAFA attendance.

It must be remembered that MRFF stands for the safeguarding of religious freedom for each and every member of the armed forces.

I hope I have provided sufficient information to bring understanding to you.

Rick Baker
Capt. USAF (Ret)
MRFF Volunteer


Thank you, Captain Baker, for taking the time to respond to my e-mail. I have made comments on the content of your message below.

Dear (name withheld),

Our President Mr. Weinstein has asked me to follow up on your recent E-Mail.

I need to begin by posting a 1971 Supreme Court decision regarding religion and the military.

In Lemon Vs. Kurzman 1971, the court held that government, including Public Education and the Armed Forces may not advance, promote, recommend or proselytize one religion over another or religion over non religion.

The young cadet who initiated the white board religious material was in direct violation of that ruling. His was not a general religious statement but rather a very pointed Christian scriptural message which could be construed as a statement to demonstrate Christianity’s superiority to other religions.

“This young cadet is not the “government,” “Public Education,” or “the Armed Forces.” He is a private citizen, and his being a cadet at the AF Academy does not remove that designation from him. “Misconstrue” is a more appropriate word for anyone’s assigning intent to prove Christianity’s superiority to other religions by this cadet. He was simply exercising his religious rights as that private citizen. The First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution guarantees us that the government cannot prohibit the free exercise of religion. He did not involve the institution of the AF by placing a Scripture on his dry erase board. MRFF is suppressing the free exercise of religious expression by insisting that this and other exercises of this freedom cease.”

Being offended is one thing, having your constitutional rights violated is another.

” One’s perceived constitutional rights halt when they are employed to inhibit the freedoms that our founding documents guarantee us. Nowhere in our Constitution does it say that an American citizen cannot exercise his religious freedom publicly. ”

The idea of sharing your religious beliefs to consenting persons in the privacy of quarters or church is the real American way.

“The intent of MRFF is clear, if this is your perspective. Again, nowhere in the Constitution does it say that religious faith must be expressed only in private, or in church. This “American way” is a recently developed philosophy, because as I said in my original e-mail, the Founding Fathers studied Bible passages and prayed in their legislative sessions. And public expressions of Christian faith abound throughout our history. You would do well to read some of David Barton’s historical accounts of religion in early America. By your actions, you are changing the intentions and course set by our Founding Fathers.”

Now there did not seem to be any ill intent with this young man’s actions but he and others of his cadet corps should have been advised of religious procedure in the military.

MRFF’s involvement comes from years of receiving complaints from our young men and women in the armed forced who have been subjected to coercive and often command centered Christian based proselytizing.

“Christianity is not a religion of coercion, and if people in authority were presenting it in this way, they were in error. The Bible says, “Whoever will MAY come” – not “Whoever will MUST come.” Becoming a Christian is a choice.”

We are currently addressing over 40,000 such complaints the majority of which are from self identified Christians.

” I find it very curious that the majority of the complaints would come from “self identified Christians.” One of the primary themes of the Bible, which true Christians believe, is to tell the Good News of the Gospel – that Jesus died a horrible death in our place to atone for the sins of all mankind, and individuals, in particular. And that we can have God’s salvation by simply accepting Jesus as Savior. Knowing this, how can someone who calls himself a Christian object to a Bible verse written on an erase board? Or other sincere expressions of Christian faith? ”

We hope that you can take into consideration that others in that cadet’s squadron who are subordinate to him felt they could not respond to his message for fear of falling afoul of him and perhaps some other action that could negatively affect their USAFA attendance.

” What I take into consideration is that no one in that cadet’s squadron would need to respond at all to the message. Again, they can just look the other way. But if someone did, if the cadet truly is a Christian, he would not take any adverse action against that person. Unlike adherents of some other religions, a committed, true Christian would respond graciously and wisely – not with vitriol or retribution.”

It must be remembered that MRFF stands for the safeguarding of religious freedom for each and every member of the armed forces.

” You are contradicting yourself when you say that MRFF “stands for safeguarding the religious freedom for each and every member of the armed forces.” Your actions strongly suggest that your intention is to remove any public expression of military members’ Christian faith. This is the religious heritage of America, and you are attempting to silence it. The innocent action of this cadet was in no way denigrating anyone’s religion or forcing anyone to accept his. He was simply exercising his guaranteed “free exercise thereof” as a private American citizen. ”

I hope I have provided sufficient information to bring understanding to you.

” And I hope that my comments have caused you to re-think the intent and thrust of your organization’s actions.”

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