June 29, 2022

Air Force Academy removes Bible verse from cadet’s whiteboard

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The Air Force Academy removed a Bible verse posted on a cadet’s whiteboard after determining the posting offended other cadets, an academy spokesperson said.

The cadet wrote the passage on the whiteboard posted outside his room. “I have been crucified with Christ, therefore I no longer live, but Christ lives in me”, said the verse from Galatians.

Mikey Weinstein, director of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, told me that 29 cadets and four faculty and staff contacted his organization to complain about the Christian crossing.

“If it had been in his bedroom, that was no problem,” Weinstein told me. “It’s not a matter of belief. It’s a matter of time, place and manner.”

He said the Bible verse on the cadet’s personal whiteboard created a hostile environment at the academy.

“It clearly elevated one religious faith (fundamentalist Christianity) above all others in an already virulent and hyper-fundamentalist Christian institution,” he said. “He massively poured fundamentalist Christian gasoline on an already out of control conflagration of fundamentalist Christian tyranny, exceptionalism and USAFA supremacy.”

Who knew a Bible verse posted on a whiteboard could spark such outrage?

Weinstein said he immediately contacted the Air Force Academy and filed a complaint. Exactly two hours and nine minutes later, the Bible verse had been erased from the cadet’s whiteboard.

An AFA spokesperson confirmed that the religious text had been cleaned from the board.

“The whiteboards are for both official and personal use, but when an issue was raised we addressed it and the comment was removed,” Lt. Col. Brus Vidal told me in a post. written statement.

Weinstein told me the Air Force Academy had done a good job of fixing the problem and credited Lt. Col. Denise Cooper.

“She immediately said it was wrong and that she would use it as a teachable moment,” he said.

The academy said the caddy will not be punished.

“We don’t see any misconduct here, but the division between your personal room and the hallway is a gray area,” Vidal said.

Weinstein took umbrage at that comment and said the caddy should be punished.

“It’s not a gray area, it’s an absolute foul,” he said. “Not only should the caddy be punished, but (also) his responsible USAFA caddy and the chain of command of officers who ignored this egregious and egregious violation of Air Force 1-1 Rule and the U.S. Constitution. United States.”

The 1-1 settlement cited by Weinstein is a detailed document with a section on religious proselytism and other religious issues.

An academy spokesperson told me the whiteboard Bible verse did not violate Air Force regulations.

Retired General Jerry Boykin, executive vice president of the Family Research Council, told me he was outraged by the removal of the Bible verse.

“Once the academy has allowed cadets to use these whiteboards for personal use, censorship of religious commentary is unacceptable,” Boykin told me. “Either the Air Force Academy is very confused about the Constitution of the United States, or they don’t really believe in the freedoms provided by this document.”

Boykin said the academy needed to take a few moments for personal reflection.

“Essentially what they are doing is preparing young men and women to defend the Constitution while depriving these cadets of their own constitutional freedoms,” he charged.

Michael Berry, a Liberty Institute attorney, told me that it appears the Air Force Academy’s decision violates a new Pentagon regulation designed to protect religious freedom.

“If the caddy didn’t break any rules, why was the quote removed?” Berry asked. “It appears the Air Force now believes that Bible verses are now a 1-1 AFI violation.”

Berry said the Liberty Institute, which specializes in religious liberty cases, is prepared to defend any cadet whose religious rights have been violated.