The image above is a Bible verse from Galatians 2:20 that a cadet at the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) in Colorado Springs, Colorado, wrote on the whiteboard outside his bedroom door.
29 cadets and four faculty and staff members found the verse so offensive that they complained to Mikey Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.
Weinstein fumed to FoxNews’ Todd Starnes: “Had it been in his room — not a problem. It’s not about the belief. It’s about the time, the place and the manner. It clearly elevated one religious faith over all others at an already virulently hyper-fundamentalist Christian institution. It massively poured fundamentalist Christian gasoline on an already raging out-of-control conflagration of fundamentalist Christian tyranny, exceptionalism and supremacy at [the academy].”
So Weinstein complained to the USAFA.
And Academy officials removed the verse.
The removal in turn instigated a revolt among the cadets, some of whom have posted verses from the Bible and the Koran on their whiteboards in protest, including the original Galatians quote that was removed. Below is a sample:
Billy Hallowell reports for The Blaze, March 12, 2014, that Weinstein is calling the cadets’ defiance “a revolt.”
Weinstein said he received an email from an unnamed agnostic cadet who complains that “Theses posts, quotes, and comments on social media have created a hostile environment and have lead to a decrease in unit cohesion and morale and are unprofessional in the military environment.”
Weinstein is now calling on the Air Force Academy to take action against those cadets who’ve posted scripture messages outside their doors, calling the messages “a toxic environment” and for those cadets, including the cadet who posted the original Galatians verse, to be punished.
Air Force Academy spokesman Lt. Col. Brus Vidal told Starnes that the first cadet had committed no misconduct and will not be punished. Vidal said there’s a “gray area” when it comes to one’s personal room and the hallway, where the message was posted: “The whiteboards are for both official and personal use, but when a concern was raised we addressed it and the comment was taken down.”
But Michael Berry, senior counsel for the conservative legal firm the Liberty Institute, points out the illogic of Vidal’s statement. Berry said, “If the cadet didn’t violate any rules, then why was the quote removed? It appears that the Air Force now believes Bible verses are a violation of AFI 1-1.”
In fact, Berry said the removal of the Bible verse and any punishment is actually a violation of the Department of Defense Instruction 1300.17, a provision that protects soldiers’ religious liberty 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.”
Weinstein is threatening to go to court if the Air Force Academy refuses to remove the verses.
Dr. Eowyn is the Editor of Fellowship of the Minds.