Cadet Watkins: Called by God.
The YouTube recording was taken down sometime after 9:45 a.m. today.
But it wasn't because the academy demanded that. Rather, the academy ruled the video allowed under the service's rule which permits free exercise of religion. From the academy:
The Air Force Academy's goal is to foster a climate of respect. The Air Force has policies in place concerning what is and is not appropriate in regards to religious expression. These policies aim to balance the individual's right of religious expression with avoiding the appearance of inappropriate endorsement.
When allegations are made about potential violations of these policies, they are thoroughly reviewed.
Regarding the complaint concerning a cadet making an on-line video statement about his High School experience, his personal faith, and preparation for college; we have determined that the cadet's behavior is consistent with AFI 1-1, paragraph 2.11 and 2.12, Free Exercise of Religion and Religious Accommodation.
—————ORIGINAL POST 5:17 P.M. WED., NOV. 30, 2016———————————-
Whatever kind of religious sensitivity training is going on at the Air Force Academy, it's not having the desired effect, says Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.
He offers as the latest evidence a YouTube video
of a third-class cadet, a sophomore, giving a testimonial for the Western Christian Schools of Upland, Calif., where he graduated a couple years ago.
The cadet, Jake Watkins, appears in academy uniform saying, "I believe that God has called me to be a leader ... and to work for the Lord and not for men."
Says Weinstein via email:
Here we go again, U.S. Air Force Academy. 46 USAF Academy cadets, staff and faculty join MRFF as its clients in being outraged at this cadet’s blatant sectarian Christian proselytizing video which directly violates Air Force Instruction 1-1, Section 2.12, the No Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution, bedrock U.S. Supreme Court caselaw as well as additional DoD and USAF regulations, directives and instructions.
Air Force instruction
I spoke for over 7 minutes to Major Jamie Johnson, the Air Officer Commanding of this cadet, in Cadet Squadron 29 and registered MRFF’s and its 46 USAFA clients’ collective and unbridled disappointment and shame at seeing this illicit, unconstitutional and unauthorized Christian proselytizing/"testimony" video which was recorded in the offending cadet’s official Academy uniform.
MRFF demands that this cadet and his responsible chain of command be appropriately and swiftly disciplined pursuant to the cited Air Force Instruction and other applicable military regulations to ensure that no other similar breaches of Constitutional law ever occur again at the USAF Academy.
The Air Force Academy continues to earnestly search for what it’s institutional “brand” should be. Based on the nearly 13 years that I and MRFF have been battling unlawful, fundamentalist Christian supremacy and oppression at USAFA, it would seem, most tragically, that The Cross is USAFA's most deserved “brand’.
states, in part:
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.
Read the full instruction here:
See related PDF
Weinstein says he's spoken with a person at the academy who has vowed to "get this going in the proper channels."
We've also reached out to the academy for a comment on Watkins' testimonial and will update when we hear back.