COLORADO SPRINGS, Co. — The Air Force Academy has upheld the prayer practice of its football team after a prominent activist group that seeks to separate God from the military lodged a complaint.
As previously reported, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) recently contacted the academy in stating that it had been been told by a number of cadets and faculty that the Air Force Academy Falcons have been praying on the field before each game. The team did so last weekend in playing against San Diego, lining up in a row as they took a knee.
“It’s a putrid example of fundamentalist Christian supremacy, triumphalism and exceptionalism and it has to stop,” MRFF President Mikey Weinstein told reporters. “Those individuals that are dressed in the Air Force uniform; that’s their uniform of the day. They’re members of the military and they are under different rules that the civilian counterparts they’re playing on the field.”
Weinstein said that just as the academy bans public displays of affection, it should also ban public prayer.
“Given its horrific record of unconstitutional, abhorrent church-state violations scandalously spanning multiple decades now, it’s quite obvious that USAFA has NO such prohibitions on ‘PDR’ or ‘public displays of religiosity,’” he stated. “Indeed, apparently the only allowed, or maybe I should say ‘encouraged’ PDA is holding hands in public with Jesus.”
The Air Force Academy then launched an investigation in light of Weinstein’s complaint, but announced on Wednesday that the football team has committed no wrongdoing and may continue to pray before games.
“Recently the United States Air Force Academy received a complaint about its football players kneeling in prayer. An inquiry was initiated, which found the football players’ actions to be consistent with Air Force Instruction 1-1 and its guidance on the free exercise of religion and religious accommodation,” officials said in a statement.
“The United States Air Force Academy will continue to reaffirm to cadets that all Airmen are free to practice the religion of their choice or subscribe to no religious belief at all,” they continued. “The players may confidently practice their own beliefs without pressure to participate in the practices of others.”
Weinstein says that he is now considering taking the matter to court.
“This outrageous internal administrative decision to allow its football team to engage in massive orchestrated sectarian Christian prayers right before kickoff for the world to see on television is a monstrous travesty and brutal breach of federal constitutional law and Department of Defense/Air Force regulations,” he told the Air Force Times.