by Pam Zubeck
Military religious watchdog Mikey Weinstein says his previously cordial relationship with Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michael Gould has deteriorated as he's lost confidence that the academy is addressing Christian proselytizing.
"We are now in a state of war with the academy," Weinstein says of his Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which he founded about six years ago after accusing the academy of being a hotbed of Christian proselytizing.
Weinstein called it an "outrage" that the academy released a press statement Friday discrediting reports from him that the academy was allowing improper proselytizing at publicly accessible academy facilities.
Here's the press release:
U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — The mission of the Air Force Academy is to educate, train and inspire men and women to become officers of character to lead the United States Air Force in long-term service to our nation. In addition to respect and tolerance imperatives, the Academy is also committed to balancing outside influences that distract our cadets and staff from accomplishing that mission. As such, the Academy takes seriously any accusations of inappropriate conduct.
One week ago, on September 10, Mr. Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), claimed that the Academy has allowed a private religious group to promote improper Christian proselytizing at publicly accessible Academy facilities.
Upon learning of this allegation, Lt. Gen. Mike Gould, USAFA Superintendent, directed an immediate review of the claim. To date, the allegation is not substantiated. Throughout his tenure as Superintendent, General Gould has repeatedly emphasized the necessity for religious accommodation and respect. In his August 2010 addresses to the entire Academy he stated, “Military professionals must remember that religious choice is a matter of individual conscience. Professionals, and especially commanders, must not take it upon themselves to change or coercively influence the religious views of subordinates.”
The Academy remains committed to protecting an individual’s right to practice any religion they choose, or no religion, provided their practices do not violate policy or law or impede mission accomplishment. The Academy’s policy is consistent with the MRFF view that, “religious faith is a constitutionally guaranteed freedom that must never be compromised.” (MRFF official website)
We are dedicated to creating a dynamic learning and training environment where cadets can realize their highest potential, regardless of their religious or any other beliefs. The Academy remains committed to respect all members’ rights to practice, or not, any faith, and we offer that commitment as a model for the meaning and intent of First Amendment religious rights outlined under the U.S. Constitution.
Weinstein says he stands by his allegations and has 51 cadets who have corroborated that a "Christian cult" is actively influencing cadets on academy grounds.
Cadets and their parents have told Weinstein that the group brainwashes cadets through a Cadets for Christ program run by Don and Anna Warrick. Their website teems with Biblically based teachings that, in part, promote the idea of the man as shepherd and the woman as subservient. Several academy personnel have complained to Weinstein about the teachings, saying the Air Force mantra is that female airmen are equal to male airmen.
One person wrote to Weinstein, "These people have isolated personnel from their families and kept them on the fringes of their units."
The Warricks did not immediately respond to an e-mail inquiry.