AFA prayers at football games

I just noticed an article in our local media that referenced the position that you have taken on the practice of the Air Force Academy football players ‘voluntarily’ praying in the end zone before a football game. I appreciate that you, and the rest of us who love the freedoms that we are able to enjoy in our country, don’t want to provide ISIS with any extra incentive to find reasons to hate or attack us even more than they already do. That is a no brain-er and I fully agree with and respect your position on that idea. What I believe you and your organization may be missing is the value that that image has on the free public of THIS country. I have never spoken with, nor do I know any of the individuals that are ‘praying in public’ at these games, but I am sure that they are not doing it with the desired result of instilling greater hate and anger in the minds or hearts of our enemies. I am sure that a large majority of people here in the USA that see that image are gracious, proud, and glad to see that demonstration of humility and respect, no matter where it is directed or to whom it is intended.

If you take a little time to research and identify the source of ones anger or irritation that they may have toward an individual or group, it isn’t necessarily the result of the actions or ‘images’ that they see, but the way they interpret them from their own beliefs and perspective. In the case of inciting ISIS further against Americans, or any free society on the planet for that matter, images of a family happily shopping at the mall, crowds enjoying themselves at any public gathering, or the common images that we see on our televisions incite as much anger and hate in their minds as a few guys praying at a football game. Probably much, much more.

So, I think that you are onto something. Try to channel your donations and efforts to solving a real problem. Contact the networks and cable channels and try to get them to stop showing wanton acts of infidelity, vulgarity, violence, and dishonesty in their shows. In fact, the #1 export from our country to those countries in the middle east is actually our television shows. What most of these extremists see day in and day out on their television screens from the USA convinces them that we are infidels and that the planet should be purged of our idolatry and immorality. We all know that those shows don’t actually represent what all Americans think or do, but the shows that are seen on their foreign TV sets don’t do a very good job of convincing them otherwise.

You have a voice that people listen to. You have a platform that people pay attention to. Try not to waste it by barking up the wrong trees.


(name withheld)


Dear (name withheld),
Hi thanks for your thoughts. Though I think you miss two primary points, your idea may deserve the attention of an organization focused on responsibility in the media and I hope you’ll suggest it to one.

One point I think you miss, however, is that ISIS, or Daesh, as I prefer to think of them, bases much of its appeal to potential recruits on what they claim is a war of cultures or civilizations in which the Christian West is trying to destroy the East, and with it, Islam. When they can point to a military unit – and the USAFA team is very identifiable as that – publicly displaying a symbol or a behavior they can associate with the Christian Crusades, we play right into  their hands.

The other point has to do with understanding the mission of the MRFF. Our sole purpose is the defense of the Constitutional rights of the women and men in the military, in this case the right to their freedom of choice in terms of belief, and against religious pressure or proselytizing. Members of the cadet corps and the team in question do not feel they can freely express their discomfort with this inappropriate display of religious belief, one they do not share, without suffering consequences from those in authority. So they come to us.

In terms, I must say, of your sense of the value of such an image to the people of this country, I think one must be cautious. Images of families playing together or good old mom and apple pie images are always of value, but ours is a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious society that includes many people who may have no traditional belief at all. I think, as Americans, we have to be sensitive about pushing forward any religious view.
The separation of church and state is a long-held and honored legal tenet and we believe it is worth defending even though it is much misunderstood. And of course it is despised by others who want nothing more than to declare our nation and its military as one with their version of God.

At any rate, thanks very much for your thoughts. I wish you well.


Mike Farrell
(MRFF Board of Advisors)



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