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PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Deborah Hamilton, Hamilton Strategies, 215.815.7716, 610.584.1096
April 10, 2014
21 Groups Sign Letter Calling Air Force Academy to Account for Religious Liberty Violations
American Family Association Part of Coalition Urging Corrective Action

 American Family Association (AFA, www.afa.net) President Tim Wildmon was one of 21 representatives who signed a letter last week to U.S. Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson, outlining an egregious violation of religious liberty within the walls of the Academy and urging corrective action.

 

 

The letter, sent via email March 31, addresses events that “occurred within the U.S. Armed Forces that raised significant concerns about the status of the religious liberties so greatly prized by all Americans.” Specifically, the letter highlights the recent incident of a cadet who was pressured to remove a Scripture verse from his personal white board outside of his dorm room.

 

“As the Academy has stated publicly,” the letter reads, “cadet white boards are allowed to contain both official and personal messages. Furthermore, these personal messages often include quotations that are philosophical and inspirational to the owner of the white board. Once the Academy allowed the cadets the opportunity to express themselves on their white boards, it became unacceptable to censor that speech based on its specific content or general subject matter as enunciated. The specific speech in question (the Galatians 2:20 passage) was clearly restricted solely due to its religious and Christian content.” 

 

“It’s critical that we don’t sit silently as religious freedoms are trampled at an Academy where young men and women are trained to lead the troops who defend our liberties,” said AFA President Tim Wildmon. “The U.S. Air Force Academy must address its overstep and start placing the First Amendment above the demands of an offended atheist group.” 

 

The letter further states:

 

“As a general matter, somewhere along the way the Air Force and the Academy seem to have adopted a novel view of American law regarding the First Amendment and freedom of speech and expression—particularly, religious speech. While it is certainly true that there are occasions in which military necessity requires that ‘the good of the entire unit’ be placed above that of the interests of ‘any single individual,’ the incident involving the cadet, his white board, and the Bible verse written on it cannot be construed to be one of them—even remotely.”

 

The cadet had written Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me...” as a personal inspiration.

 

The letter also reminds Johnson and other Air Force Academy officials of the Department of Defense Instruction on January 22, 2014, which states, “unless it could have an adverse impact on military readiness, unit cohesion, and good order and discipline, the Military Departments will accommodate individual expressions of sincerely held beliefs (conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs) of Service members in accordance with the policies and procedures in this instruction.”

 

Signers of the letter requested a meeting with the Academy and coalition representatives including Gen. Jerry Boykin, Executive Vice President of the Family Research Council;

Chaplain Col. Ron Crews (Ret.), Executive Director of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty; and Michael Berry, Esq., Senior Counsel & Director of Military Affairs for the Liberty Institute.

 

“We believe the Academy has overstepped its constitutional and statutory bounds in the incident involving the cadet’s white board,” the letter concludes. “This is not a minor matter. The Academy’s actions and policy pronouncements, unless quickly corrected, will continue to chill speech at the Academy, harm morale, and create unnecessary confusion for cadets. Thus, we urge you to obtain more objective analyses of the First Amendment issues involved here and correct the errors that have been made.”

 

Other signers of the letter included Gary L. Bauer, President of American Values; Brent Bozell III, President of the Media Research Center; Elaine Donnelly, President of the Center for Military Readiness; and Gary McCaleb, Chief Solicitor and Exec. VP for Strategy Implementation at Alliance Defending Freedom.

 

American Family Association offers its friends and supporters several mobile apps through http://action.afa.net/mobile. The AFA Action Alerts app, with breaking news and action alerts, is available for the iPhone and iPad on the Apple App Store, on Google Play and on the Amazon Appstore for Android. The AFR (American Family Radio) app is available for Apple and Android products, and the AFA Action app with, for example, voter information at election time, is available on Apple and Android platforms.

 

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 atdhamilton@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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