December 2, 2014 – USAFA Changes Religious Accommodations Policy One Day After Being Contacted by MRFF

On December 1, 2014, the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) published a document titled, “Religious Accommodations NOTAM” (NOTAM is a common military acronym that stands for Notice to Airmen) on their public website.  To ensure that all cadets and members of the public were aware of the NOTAM, they also published a direct informational link to the document titled “NOTAMS Dec 2014” on the USAFA Cadet Chaplain Corps website.

The content of the NOTAM includes a listing of the various major religious holidays that occur in December, theUSAFA’s opinionated definition for each religious holiday, and the impact of the holiday to USAFA operations.  The NOTAM also addresses religious accommodation such as diet and use of religious decorations in common use cadet areas of the Academy. In order for the cadets to placereligious decorations in the common use areas, they must obtain multiple approvals from their command supervisory chain in addition to their chaplain.  However, the USAFA specifically exempted Christmas trees (what the NOTAM called a holiday tree) from this approval process.  In addition, the NOTAM addressed the use of Jewish Menorahs but unlike the Christmas trees, they were only pre-approved for use in the cadet’s private room.

In response to a request from the Military ReligiousFreedom Foundation, the USAFA withdrew the NOTAM and issued a new NOTAM on December 2, 2014 that removes any specific holiday decoration guidance and instead, states simply:

NOTE 2: Holiday Decorations: For guidance, please consult with your leadership.

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