The Washington Times is reporting that Air Force Academy officials have rejected the complaint filed by Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.
“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,” academy officials told the Times 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,” the statement said. “The players may confidently practice their own beliefs without pressure to participate in the practices of others.”
Weinstein threatened to seek an injunction before the team’s game in the Armed Forces Bowl, which the Air Force lost to California 55-36.
“This outrageous internal administrative decision to allow its football team to engage in massive orchestrated sectarian Christian prayers right before kick-off 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,” Weinstein told the Washington Times.
His organization complained several weeks ago about the practice by some team members for a short bow and prayer before games.
In the complaint, Weinstein called it a “wholly illicit, illegal and unconstitutional pattern of exhibitionist pregame Christian-prayer stunts displayed by players with the U.S. Air Force Academy’s football team, the Falcons.”
He continued, “It’s a disgrace. It’s a putrid example of fundamentalist Christian supremacy, triumphalism and exceptionalism, and it has to stop.”
Religious freedom advocate Daniel Briggs of the Alliance Defending Freedom said “Military members do not forfeit their constitutional freedoms by virtue of their service to our country. Even at the Academy, cadets still enjoy the right to free speech and the free exercise of religion. … Cadet-led prayer does not violate any purported ‘separation of church and state.’”