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PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Deborah Hamilton, Hamilton Strategies, 215.815.7716, 610.584.1096
March 24, 2014
Why Is Mikey Weinstein So Influential Over U.S. Air Force?
American Family Association Asks Why Air Force Academy Caves into Weinstein’s Frequent Demands in a Matter of Hours

The U.S. Air Force Academy came under fire last week when a cadet was asked to remove a Bible verse from the personal whiteboard outside his door, sparking a debate about religious liberties in today’s military.

But the real question, says the American Family Association (AFA, www.afa.net), is why the Air Force Academy caves into the demands of one very outspoken atheist.

The recent trouble started when a cadet posted Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ therefore I no longer live, but Christ lives in me...”

Avowed atheist and director of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation Mikey Weinstein jumped into the fray quickly, making a call to the Air Force Academy, stating that he had received complaints about the verse. Once he called the academy, alleging that the verse—an inspiration to the cadet—would cause a hostile environment among the ranks, it took just over two hours for the academy to take action against the cadet.

“Why does Mikey Weinstein have such power over the U.S. Air Force Academy?” asks AFA President Tim Wildmon. “When he says ‘jump,’ they ask ‘how high?’ What influence does this atheist have over them? Weinstein himself is a 1977 graduate of the Air Force Academy, and his children are also graduates. So why the constant attacks on his alma mater? I can’t think of any other person who makes a phone call to a branch of the U.S. military with a demand attached and sees such immediate and sweeping action. What gives?”

This most recent dust-up isn’t the first time Weinstein has been in the throes of a religious liberties debate within the Air Force Academy. In October 2013, the academy considered dropping “God” from its oath after the threat of a lawsuit by Weinstein’s organization, according to a report by FoxNews. Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson, the Air Force Academy Superintendent, rushed to soothe Weinstein’s feathers a mere 68 minutes later. And the framed poster containing the Honor Oath was immediately taken down. In an effort to avoid a lawsuit, the academy also made the final clause in the cadet Honor Oath – “so help me God – “optional.”

On his own organizations’ website, Weinstein tells viewers in a video that Christian American soldiers are the new radical extremists because some of them are “putting Jesus verses on their M16,” or “painting their fighting vehicles with Christian crosses.”

Now, the Air Force Academy is digging itself a deeper hole by trying to deflect the backlash it is receiving after coercing the cadet. Academy officials say they didn’t order the cadet to remove God’s word from public view, but that the cadet made the decision himself after being “talked to” by his superiors. Mike Berry of the Liberty Institute reported that, according to the school’s attorney, the cadet’s voluntary action would not have mattered. If the cadet had refused to erase the verse, for example, “they likely would have ordered him or directed him to remove the verse—or they would have removed it for him.”

Last week, Air Force leaders were grilled during a House Armed Services Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., when Congressmen Randy Forbes (R-Va.), Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) and Michael Turner (R-Ohio) demanded Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Walsh come clean about the incident and “make every effort to promote and preserve religious liberty for our service members.”

Following the academy’s anti-religious intimidation, at least a dozen other cadets protested by posting scripture verses on their whiteboards. The Air Force Academy has backed down some and says it is not a violation of rules for cadets to post scripture but that doing so may create a hostile and divisive environment, especially for atheists.

For more information on American Family Association, visit www.afa.net.

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To interview a representative from American Family Association, contact Deborah Hamilton at dhamilton@hamiltonstrategies.com, 215-815-7716 or 610-584-1096.

American Family Association (AFA) a non-profit 501(c3) organization was founded in 1977 by Donald E. Wildmon, who was pastoring First United Methodist Church in Southaven, Mississippi, at the time. Since 1977, AFA has been on the frontlines of America’s culture war. The original name of the ministry was National Federation for Decency but was changed to American Family Association in 1988. Today, AFA is one of the largest and most effective pro-family organizations in the country with more than one million online supporters and approximately 180,000 paid subscribers to the AFA Journal, the ministry’s monthly magazine. In addition, AFA owns and operates nearly 200 radio stations across the country under the American Family Radio banner. 

Other divisions of AFA include American Family Radio, the AFA Foundation and OneNewsNow.com, an online news provider that is syndicated around the world. AFA maintains activist web sites such as OneMillionMoms.com that rally Christian activists to contact companies asking them to drop their advertising from objectionable TV shows. AFA websites average over 6 million unique visitors and 44 million hits per year. AFA uses all these means to communicate an outspoken, resolute, Christian voice throughout America.


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