Prayer

Not sure why you don’t get it but Air Force Academy football players have just as much right to pray as you do to protest it.

—  In God we trust.

(name withheld)


 

Dear (name withheld),

We do get that the Air Force Football players can pray but it must be according to the time, place and manner according to the laws mentioned below.

 

AFI (Air Force Instruction) 1-1, Section 2.12 and reads in part:

 

“…leaders at all levels in the Air Force must ensure that their words and actions cannot reasonably be construed to be officially endorsing or disapproving of or extending preferential treatment for any faith, belief or absence of belief.”

 

“Leaders at all levels” include the football coaches.

 

By allowing public prayer by the football players in Air Force uniform, command is officially endorsing one religion – Christianity.

 

Parker v. Levy:

“This Court has long recognized that the military is, by necessity, a specialized society separate from civilian society… While the members of the military are not excluded from the protection granted by the First Amendment, the different character of the military community and of the military mission requires a different application of those protections. … The fundamental necessity for obedience, and the consequent necessity for imposition of discipline, may render permissible within the military that which would be constitutionally impermissible outside it… Speech [in any form] that is protected in the civil population may nonetheless undermine the effectiveness of response to command.  If it does, it is constitutionally unprotected.” (Emphasis added) Parker v. Levy, 417 U.S. 733, 1974

 

The football players’ right to public prayer is constitutionally unprotected.

 

As defenders of the Constitution we fight for the separation of church and state.

 

“…but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” (Article I, III)

This means that from the President to Congress to the military – no one’s job is based on their religion.

 

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion (Establishment Clause), or prohibiting the free exercise thereof (Free Exercise Clause).”(First Amendment)

 

The Establishment Clause means that you cannot favor one religion over another even though it is in the majority. This clause respects the RIGHTS of all religions. Our military is SECULAR and there are people of other faiths that don the uniform that love this country.

 

The Free Exercise Clause (which is subservient to the Establishment Clause) means that our soldiers are free to exercise any religion they want or no religion at all but cannot elevate one God above others.

 

“Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person’s life, freedom of religion affects every individual. Religious institutions that use government power in support of themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths, or of no faith, undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of an established religion tends to make the clergy unresponsive to their own people, and leads to corruption within religion itself. Erecting the “wall of separation between church and state,” therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society. Thomas Jefferson, to the Virginia Baptists (1808) ME 16:320.

 

This is his second known use of the term “wall of separation,” here quoting his own use in the Danbury Baptist letter.

 

This wording of the original was several times upheld by the Supreme Court as an accurate description of the Establishment Clause.

 

Jefferson’s concept of “separation of church and state” first became a part of Establishment Clause jurisprudence in Reynolds v. U.S., 98 U.S. 145 (1878). In that case, the court examined the history of religious liberty in the US, determining that while the constitution guarantees religious freedom, “The word ‘religion’ is not defined in the Constitution. We must go elsewhere, therefore, to ascertain its meaning and nowhere more appropriately, we think, than to the history of the times in the midst of which the provision was adopted.” The court found that the leaders in advocating and formulating the constitutional guarantee of religious liberty were James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. Quoting the “separation” paragraph from Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists, the court concluded that, “coming as this does from an acknowledged leader of the advocates of the measure, it may be accepted almost as an authoritative declaration of the scope and effect of the amendment thus secured.

 

In 1878 “separation of church and state” became part of the Establishment Clause BY LAW.

 

The Supreme Court heard the Lemon v. Kurtzman case in 1971 and ruled in favor of the Establishment Clause.

 

Subsequent to this decision, the Supreme Court has applied a three-pronged test to determine whether government action comports with the Establishment Clause, known as the Lemon Test:

 

Government action violates the Establishment Clause unless it:
1. Has a significant secular (i.e., non-religious) purpose,
2. Does not have the primary effect of advancing or inhibiting religion
3. Does not foster excessive entanglement between government and religion

 

Prayer on the field fits into all 3 and violates the Lemon Test.

 

It also violates AFI 1-1 and Parker v. Levy.

 

We are neither an atheist organization nor are we anti-Christian. Mikey is Jewish (and prays to the same Father we do 3 times a day) and 80% of the Board, Advisory Board, volunteers and supporters (244 in total) of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) are Christians. In fact, 96% of our 43,200+ soldier clients (1 can represent many) are Christians – Catholics, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodist, Lutherans, Baptists, etc. We fight for the rights of these Christians more than any other religion but it never makes the news.

 

Mikey was a JAG (lawyer) at the Air Force Academy for 10 years, worked in the West Wing under Ronald Reagan, and held positions in private practice.

 

Read these articles to get the full scope of what is truly going on: http://www.csindy.com/IndyBlog/archives/2015/12/02/usafas-tebow-prayer-stirs-controversy

http://www.military.com/daily-news/2015/12/10/ex-chaplain-criticizes-tebow-prayer-at-air-force-football-home.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lawrence-b-wilkerson/religion-in-iraq-syria-af_b_8711724.html

 

Read our mission statement and see that we are for prayer consistent with time, place and manner under the laws and regulations set forth above.

http://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org/about/our-mission/

 

Here are some of the honorable and distinguished military personnel we rely on for their expertise regarding religion in the military.

 

 

Board Members

Major William E. Barker

Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV).

 

Advisory Board Members (Past and present military personnel)

Edie Disler– PhD, Lt Col (Ret), is a 25 year veteran of the Air Force who served as an ICBM crewmember, an Executive Support Officer to the Secretary of Defense, a conventional arms control inspector, a speechwriter, and USAFA faculty professor.

 

Robert S. Dotson–Retired Brigadier General.

 

Robert T. Herres– A Naval Academy graduate with a 36 year career in the United States Air Force, he also served a three-year assignment as Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the first to hold that position. (December 1, 1932 – July 24, 2008)

 

Kristen Leslie – An Assistant Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling at Yale Divinity School and consultant to the United States Air Force Academy on religious matters.

 

Eagle Man, Ed McGaa – Is an enrolled Oglala Sioux tribal member, OST 15287. After serving in Korea, he earned an undergraduate degree from St. Johns University, MN. He then later rejoined the Marine Corps to become a fighter pilot.

 

Rev. MeLinda Morton – An ordained minister of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). She is a former Chaplain in the United States Air Force, most recently serving at the United States Air Force Academy.

 

George Reed – A faculty member in the School of Leadership and Education Sciences at the University of San Diego. Before joining the faculty in 2007 he served for 27 years as a military police officer including six as the Director of Command and Leadership Studies at the U.S. Army War College.

 

AA “Tony” Verrengia  – A retired Air Force Brigadier General, He was a Master Navigator that served in air transport operations positions for many years.

 

John Whiteside – He is one of only a few military aviators to possess both Senior Command Air Force wings and aircraft carrier qualified Naval Aviator wings, in addition to having been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism in combat during Operation Desert Storm.

 

Lawrence Wilkerson – Distinguished Visiting Professor of Government and Public Policy at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, VA. His last position in government was as Secretary of State Colin Powell’s Chief of Staff (2002-05).

 

If the Air Force Academy obeyed the laws and regulations listed above, we wouldn’t be having this fight.

 

Pastor Joan

MRFF Advisory Board Member


 

Hi (name withheld),

Not sure why you don’t get it, but nobody is against Air Force Academy football players praying, assuming it’s done in the proper time, place and manner, per Air Force regulations.

Mike Farrell

(MRFF Board of Advisors)

 

 

 

 

 

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3 Comments

  1. sleepvark

    Prayer, like defecation, may be an essential function. But please do not force us to listen, watch, or in any way participate while you engage in either activity. To do so is obscene.

  2. Mark Sebree

    sleepvark,

    What makes you think that prayer “is a necessary function”? There is no biological need, urge, or reason to pray. In fact, billions of people in the world, and tens of millions in the USA feel no need to pray. Which rather shows that it is not “a necessary function”.

    Given that a great many people do not feel any need to pray, what exactly is the supposed function that prayer enables, and what makes it so necessary given that so many people seem to not need it.

  3. Yeshua Warrior

    Dear Sleepvark and Mark, prayer is an essential function for the believer, prayer is as necessary to the believer as breathing is.

    Simply, prayer is our conversation to God, requesting what we may need from Him in a time of need, expressing our praise and adoration to Him for loving us and sending His Son to earth to die for our sins that we may live!

    Prayer is also two way, it is our talking to God, and then being quiet to listen to Him speak to us through His Holy Spirit which resides in every believer.

    The Apostle Paul told us that we are to pray at all times. What if you were to never talk to your spouse, then you would be missing out on understanding them and keeping those lines of communication with them, the same with prayer.

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