February 8, 2018
MRFF’s Long Term Positive Impact on USAFA’s Command Climate of Christian Dominance and Prominence Made Clear in Internal Email
The U.S. Air Force Academy’s (USAFA) 2018 National Prayer Luncheon was held on Tuesday, February 13, 2018 at the Arnold Hall Ballroom on the Academy campus. This event is organized under the direction of the Chaplain of the U.S. Air Force Academy. In preparation for this event, internal emails circulated among USAFA’s Department Heads encouraged attendance and sought “representation” of the USAFA administrative leadership at the National Prayer Luncheon. In response to this request for “representation” by the USAFA administrative leadership at this event, internal emails show that the head of USAFA’s faculty clearly and appropriately in this specific instance chose to uphold our constitutional principles of church/state separation by responding:
-there is no expectation of official representation at this event.
-attendance is purely an individual’s choice.
-USAFA leadership has absolutely no expectations regarding individual attendance.
The positive impact of this current leadership position becomes clear in light of the historical environment of sectarian religious supremacy and expectations at USAFA. This environment was made clear during the events surrounding the release of USAFA’s 2010 “Climate Survey” of cadets/faculty/staff. On September 28, 2010, MRFF led a diverse group of religious and secular organizations in demanding that then U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates override the refusal of the Academy to make public the results of the 2010 Academy “Climate Survey.” The 2010 Climate Survey was finally released at a special briefing at the Academy on November 1, 2010, a meeting barring MRFF’s attendance contrary to promises made by a senior Pentagon official in a letter dated October 19, 2010. Lance Benzel of the Colorado Springs described in an article on October 29, 2010 the religious climate element of the survey:
Nearly half of non-Christian cadets polled in a recent Air Force Academy survey said fellow students have a “low tolerance” for nonbelievers – a 20 percentage-point jump from two years ago.
The sectarian religious environment at USAFA was illustrated in stark detail when a cadet writing to MRFF at that time described:
an “underground” group of over one hundred Academy cadets who, in order to maintain good standing among their USAF Academy peers and superiors, are actually pretending to be fundamentalist Christians. They leave Bibles, Christian literature, and Christian music CDs lying around their rooms; they attend fundamentalist Christian Bible studies; they feign devoutness at the Academy’s weekly “Special Programs in Religious Education” (SPIRE) programs. They do whatever they have to do to play the role of the “right kind” of Christian cadets, in constant fear of being “outed.”