(CNSNews.com) – An Air Force Academy cadet wrote a Bible verse on a hallway whiteboard that was subsequently removed earlier this week after pressure from an outside group, and now religious freedom organizations are offering assistance to any Academy students who might face repercussions for writing, or supporting the writing, of Bible verses on bulletin boards.
In addition, there are reports now that some cadets are posting other Bible verses and some passages from the Koran on other whiteboards at the Colorado Springs campus, in protest of the removal of the first verse.
The hallway whiteboard had been designated by the Air Force Academy for both official and personal use, according to a group of 24 organizations called the Restore Military Religious Freedom Coalition.
The Bible verse was from Galatians 2:20, and said on the board, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God who loves me and gave Himself for me.”
The passage was removed from the whiteboard after activist Mikey Weinstein, who runs the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, filed a complaint with the Air Force Academy after receiving information about the issue apparently from other cadets.
As for the cadets now posting Bible and Koran verses on whiteboards, Weinstein told The Blaze, “The Air Force Academy has a revolt on their hands. What are they going to do?”
Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin (ret.), the executive vice president of the Family Research Council, which is a member of the coalition and a critic of Weinstein’s actions, said, "This reflects that the cadets understand the Constitution and have a greater faith in the Constitution than their leaders. They are freely exercising their constitutional rights that they will be defending upon graduation.”
Michael Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel, said, "This latest incident at the United States Air Force Academy reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of religious freedom. Not only is the notion that cadets have to abandon or hide their faith as a requisite of military service not supported by law, it is actually discriminatory to brave men and women of faith that desire to serve their country," concluded Staver.”
Gary McCaleb, chief solicitor and executive vice president for Strategy Implementation at the Alliance Defending Freedom, said, "Suppressing religion is wrong whether it is done behind an Iron Curtain or in a dorm hallway. Certainly such raw anti-religious discrimination has no place in America's Air Force."
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (FRC) and a former Marine, said, “Since when is the standard of what’s constitutional based on what offends someone else? If Scripture frightens these cadets, what will they do in the face of a determined jihadist?"
"It’s decisions like these that are creating cowards in place of the proud warriors of the U.S. military," said Perkins. "All these cadets have done is freely exercised the constitutional rights they’ll be defending upon graduation. Even the Pentagon, after prodding from groups like FRC, agreed through a new directive that the religious expression of service members like these should be protected.”
Twenty-four groups now belong to the Restore Military Religious Freedom Coalition. Some of these include the Family Research Council, the Alliance Defending Freedom, Liberty Counsel, the Liberty Institute, and the Thomas More Law Center.
(Disclosure: The Media Research Center, the parent organization of CNSNews.com, is a member of the coalition.)
This is not the first time that groups like these have faced religious opposition in the military in the past decade. “Unfortunately, pressures to impose a secular, anti-religious culture on our nation’s military services have intensified tremendously during the Obama Administration. This pressure exists across the armed services, but it has become extremely acute in the United States Air Force,” according to Perkins of the FRC.