Since when is the standard of what’s constitutional based on what offends someone else?
– Tony Perkins, Family Research Council, addressing USAFA’s statement that a Bible verse was removed because it made someone feel “uncomfortable.”
Congressman Mike McIntyre (D-NC) asked Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James if she would provide an official explanation of the USAFA Bible verse incident:
Would you be willing to submit a detailed explanation within the next 10 days…of the event that occurred…, what the Air Force Academy policy is, and…how that policy was applied in this situation?
Secretary James agreed to do so. The Air Force has already said its policy is found in AFI 1-1, which says Read more
While many people may have opinions, the fact is there is no Air Force policy or regulation at all that addresses Bible verses or other public displays of religion — even in an official office setting, even by Air Force “leaders.”
Based on actual military policy, Air Force cadets — and enlisted, and officers — remain free to have verses on their whiteboards and Bibles on their desks, even if some people don’t agree or like it. The mere association of an Air Force leader with a religious belief cannot reasonably be interpreted to be improper — or else far more censorship and restriction on conduct needs to occur. After all, if a cadet can’t handle seeing a Bible verse on a whiteboard, how will he react when he sees his commander wearing a yarmulke?
US Air Force Academy cadets spoke out — anonymously — after the recent kerfuffle over Bible verses on dry erase boards. Their statements are mature and well-considered: Read more
The Family Research Council had high praise for cadets who “offered a teachable moment of their own” when they hung Bible (and Qur’an) verses on their doors after a Bible verse was pulled down:
Overnight, Scriptures from Philippians 4 to Psalm 28 started appearing up and down dorm hallways on whiteboards — a stealth operation to counter the growing culture of religious oppression.
The FRC notes Michael “Mikey” Weinstein “went into panic mode” when he fired off an email to Academy Superintendent LtGen Michelle Johnson: Read more
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein, a self-described religious liberty advocate, is threatening to sue the US Air Force Academy if it fails to punish cadets who exercised their religious liberty.
As previously noted in the original discussion, a large group of cadets responded to the original story of Weinstein successfully getting a Bible verse erased from a cadet whiteboard by posting verses of their own — from the Bible, Qur’an, movies, the Helix, and even the Flying Spaghetti Monster. (One said “go atheists!”)
According to an update at TheBlaze, Weinstein wants everyone who posted verses punished, for some reason, though he didn’t mention Read more
Update 2: This story is now updated here.
Update: Many USAFA cadets are now openly taunting Mikey Weinstein by posting verses (and commentary) to their message boards:
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein recently erupted when he found out a cadet wrote a Bible verse on his message board in a USAFA hallway:
The text is Galatians 2:20:
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
The labels indicate the room belongs to a 2° (junior) in Cadet Squadron 21.
Weinstein was livid that a cadet would dare write Read more
LtGen Michelle Johnson, US Air Force Academy superintendent, recently sat down with perennial critic of her academic institution (and MRFF ally), regional newspaper columnist Pam Zubeck.
Among the several questions Zubeck reports in a Q/A format are one on religion and another on an accusation by Michael “Mikey” Weinstein:
[Zubeck:] Some cadets and staff are concerned there’s an atmosphere in which cadets are expected to have their first allegiance to God, not country. How do you deal with that?
LtGen Johnson’s answer was consistent with the same Air Force guidance that has been around for years, though she cited AFI 1-1 specifically [emphasis added]:
[Johnson:] Because we’re a college, we need to have open discourse, but we have to balance that with providing a successful climate. So what we have going in, it’s really kicked in well, is this religious respect training, not just for cadets but for permanent party. That’s really important, for permanent party to know the balance there. People are free to have their beliefs but not proselytize or impose them on someone else.
And we have the training to help Read more
Following the revelation that Shaw Air Force Base had removed a Nativity scene immediately following Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s request, public outcry has left the Air Force “mulling” how to respond to the other side of the issue — those who view such a move as both unconstitutional and a questionably inappropriate relationship with Weinstein.
Though Weinstein was able to get action from the Air Force in “two hours and 15 minutes,” other normal Americans and a few reporters had trouble even getting a statement — which inspired Fox News columnist Todd Starnes to publish the (publicly available) phone numbers and emails of Shaw Public Affairs to see if others would have more success (they didn’t). This may be because most people did try to go through Public Affairs — while Weinstein had managed to get connected through the Base Command Post. (In what is unlikely a coincidence, Shaw AFB removed their Command Post phone number from their website yesterday.)
Shaw has subsequently clarified the situation, noting that a Shaw AFB chapel congregation put the Nativity up next to the Base Christmas tree, which Read more
FoxNews reports that last Friday Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s “charity” once again attacked the Air Force for erecting a Nativity scene on an Air Force Base. Two years ago, it was Travis AFB in California. This year, they targeted Shaw AFB, SC:
The MRFF’s Paul Loebe wrote in a statement that since the display was not erected near a chapel, it was illegal.
“It was very sectarian in nature and a direct violation of the U.S. Constitution as well as a blatant violation of Air Force Instruction 1-1, Section 2.11,” he said.
Weinstein presumably called the office of LtGen Richard Harding, The JAG of the Air Force, and getting no relief there, called Shaw AFB via their Command Post.
Most civilians who call an Air Force base will probably be directed to Public Affairs, because it is the job of PA to help military commanders interact with the public and ensure the correct message is conveyed. Weinstein was transferred to the Commander’s office, where an “office assistant” reportedly spoke for the Air Force. The assistant told Weinstein the display was erected by “a volunteer group” and it was being taken down. Loebe was free to interpret this as the Air Force agreeing with the MRFF position: Read more