MRFF Advisory Board Member Marty France,
USAF Brig. Gen. (Ret.), Sends Complaint
to USAFA’s Vice Superintendent
Col. Houstin R. Cantwell, and USAFA’s Superintendent Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria
: Martin France [email address withheld]
: Thursday, April 18, 2019 8:42 AM
: Cantwell, Houston R Col USAF USAFA\CV <email address withheld>
: Silveria, Jay B Lt Gen USAF USAFA USAFA/CC <email address withheld>; Mikey Weinstein <email@example.com>
Subject: AFI1-1 Violation
I've now heard independently from two of my former colleagues (and Mikey's heard from several others) about a widely advertised talk given at USAFA yesterday during duty hours, in Fairchild Hall--in fact a "Special Easter Presentation." Please see the attached photo.
As I'm sure you're by now aware, AFI1-1 states: 2.12. Balance of Free Exercise of Religion and Establishment Clause. Leaders at all levels must balance constitutional protections for their own free exercise of religion, including individual expressions of religious beliefs, and the constitutional prohibition against governmental establishment of religion. They must ensure their words and actions cannot reasonably be construed to be officially endorsing or disapproving of, or extending preferential treatment for any faith, belief, or absence of belief.
My colleagues were shocked that this sort of briefing, not even hiding its relationship to a specific religious belief (but proclaiming it) would be held during the duty day. Sure, it's voluntary, but when many of the attendees are in uniform, wearing rank, and in supervisory roles, we know that judgments are made. Moreover, just posting these flyers requires DF approval, so it's fair to assume that this is the endorsed position of the Dean.
Houston, it's all about time and place. Dr Enger is free to present his "research" based on some legend that the Academy has endorsed since the Frank J Seiler Research Lab misused taxpayer money back in the 70s and 80s in an attempt to prove the authenticity of this found piece of cloth (spoiler alert--it didn't really come from the presumed era or region of Jesus). I'm old enough to have been subjected to some of these briefings as a cadet and junior officer. It was wrong for the government to do it then, and it's wrong to provide a platform during the duty day to present it now.
If the chaplains and Dr Pocock (long a problem on the faculty for openly espousing his views in the classroom to cadets) want a "special Easter presentation", then they should use the chaplains' facilities (Cadet Chapel, Oases, Community Center Chapel) and hold it outside of duty time for those that are interested, wearing civilian clothes. Had that been the case, I wouldn't be writing you and my former colleagues wouldn't be so concerned.
It appears to many that the fundamentalists at USAFA haved bided their time and are now exerting their influence again, emboldened by developments in our government. This frightens my colleagues, Christian and non, so much that they are unwilling to use the chain of command to voice their complaints--the same chain that endorsed this event. It's long been open season on the messenger at USAFA and they now think that the bag limits have just been increased.
I'm copying Mikey Weinstein on this, as you can see. I'm doing this in my role as an Advisory Board Member of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.
I'd appreciate your thoughts on this matter.
Weak Response from
USAFA’s Col. Houston
: "Cantwell, Houston R Col USAF USAFA\\CV"
<email address withheld>
: RE: AFI1-1 Violation
: April 18, 2019 at 10:49:30 PM MDT
: 'Martin France' <email address withheld>
: Mikey Weinstein <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Thanks for bringing this to our attention and your continued service to our community. We welcome the feedback. As you’re aware, we take AFI 1-1 seriously, and opinion pieces like this keep the issue fresh in our minds.
HOUSTON R. CANTWELL, Colonel, USAF
United States Air Force Academy CO