Air Force Academy Investigates Player-Led Prayers on Football Team

The chapel at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., on May 10, 2012.
The chapel at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., on May 10, 2012. | (Photo: The Christian Post)

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) is upset about Air Force Academy cadets praying on the field, declaring the action exclusionary to non-believing players.

"This end zone praying is just another territorial conquest of the religious Christian right," said Mikey Weinstein, president and founder of MRFF. "This stands in a long line of conservative Christian acts like this."

According to Fox News, Weinstein called the prayers "a putrid example of fundamentalist Christian supremacy, triumphalism and exceptionalism" and demanded it be "stopped."

The Air Force Academy, which says it will open an investigation, has received complaints against the prayers as well as complaints to protect the rights of student-led prayer on the field.

However, the Air Force Times notes Weinstein is opposed to the academy self-investigating or policing itself.

"Allowing the Air Force Academy to investigate itself — this is simply the fox investigating the hen house," says Weinstein. "We expect that we'll get nothing positive out of this and we'll continue to take a look at whether our clients could possibly get 'John' and 'Jane Doe' protections to go into federal court to seek an injunction."

Weinstein has publicly feuded with the academy, of which he is a graduate, in the past. He filed a lawsuit against the academy in Colorado Springs in 2005 and believes the prayers by players is not optional.

In 2005 an Air Force task force found incidents of evangelism on campus among cadets, staff, and especially within the football program. Most of the incidents and findings pointed to a climate that was not "overtly hostile" to religious minorities or non-believers but policies were put in place that were deemed more inclusionary.

NBC News reported Wednesday that the academy released a statement saying the academy is "attentive to all religious freedom concerns, and we are conducting an inquiry into the complaint" and will work to create "an environment in which people can realize their highest potential, regardless of personal religious or other beliefs."

A commentary published Wednesday at the politically left Daily Kos by Weinstein brutally blasted the Air Force Academy:

"As readers and followers of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) know well, the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO. has long been a wellspring of illicit expressions of Christian supremacist fundamentalism within the U.S. military – a fact experienced first-hand by my own family and repeatedly confirmed by MRFF's growing client base at the academy," Weinstein wrote.

"Indeed, When U.S. Air Force Academy cadets behave as government-paid, fundamentalist Christian missionaries they are unwittingly playing into the hands of our jihadist opponents such as ISIS who seek to depict the United States Military as Christian "Crusaders" and will, no doubt, wield this humiliating disgrace as a propaganda weapon against our nation," he added.

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