General Gould Addresses McClary USAFA Prayer Luncheon
According to an Air Force Academy press release, General Michael Gould, USAFA Superintendent, had this to say about the upcoming National Prayer Luncheon:
[Gould] took on what he called “the big elephant” surrounding the Air Force Academy in the media in recent weeks: the National Prayer Luncheon, scheduled to be held at the Falcon Club Feb. 10. The event will feature retired Marine Lt. Clebe McClary as keynote speaker in addition to readings from followers of Buddhist, Jewish, Protestant, Catholic and Islamic faiths.
“Let me just set something straight: this is totally voluntary,” General Gould said. “If you want to go, great. If you don’t want to go, great. If anybody — and I mean this — if anybody is feeling pressure from his or her supervisor or from anybody else to go to this, I want to know about it. (And) if those allegations are substantiated, we will deal with the individual severely. We have to set that straight: you’re welcome to go; you’re welcome not to go.”
While it may seem a statement of the obvious to most reasonable people, the comments re-emphasize to critics that the Academy is presenting an opportunity for those who desire it, not forcing anything on anyone. Allowing people the opportunity to participate in an event does not violate the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution.
Importantly, Gould specifically said those who experienced pressure to attend should speak up. This may be a reference to anonymous letters to the MRFF and anonymous complainants in Michael Weinstein’s newly filed lawsuit, who evidently have done nothing in official military channels to address their concerns.