Retired USAF General and USAF Academy Graduate – Air Force Academy Team Football Praying

From: Retired USAF General and USAF Academy Graduate

Subject: RE: Air Force Academy Team Football Praying

Date: November 30, 2015 at 3:38:36 PM MST

To: Mikey Weinstein <[email protected]>

as with most issues of civil liberty there is wide lattitude for opinion …

at question here is where to draw the line – is one player pointing upwards after scoring permissible? Tim Tebow performing much more symbolic gesture on the sideline?  Two players kneeling together? 3? 4? The full team?

In my view it seems best to start from what is clearly should not be condoned and work down from there until the line between personal liberty and political correctness gets murky.

Not permissable is for a government organization to compel members to perform any religious activity – period – during the conduct of official business.  The AFA team is conducting official business during football games and practice in and off the field.

If the coaching staff says there is no coerrsion to join prayer circles, I’d argue that if most players or even just key individuals call for a religious prayer, those chosing not to participate are by definition “not on the team.”  They are trained to be good teammates – thats a grading criteria – so are compelled to join.  

This leads to the second reason to discontinue the practice – it’s not permissable for a coaching staff to allow sub-groups that can alienate some team members based on religious differences.  Football coaches need to ban activity that might break down the cohesion of thier team.

The third and last problem in my view is that public sporting events aren’t confined to stadiums or the boundaries of the U.S.  They are available globally.   If our Islamic Extremist propaganda experts use a little imagination the images of cadets praying together on the football field can be equated to servicemen and women conducting a crusade on Middle Eastern battlefields. This plays easily into the hands of those trying to portray Muslims as victims of the West, and who make a case to justify defensive jihad.

Bottom line:   Academy leaders and coaches should ensure religious observances in groups are kept off the field and out of the locker room.

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