Colorado Springs, CO -- (SBWIRE) -- 04/04/2014 -- In a strong refutation of spurious claims of "religious oppression" posted in a billboard by a fundamentalist Christian coalition, the nationally-recognized Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) has arranged for the posting of a billboard blasting religious oaths at the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA). MRFF's billboard (see artwork above) will be posted directly on the FLIP-SIDE of the virulently sectarian billboard it opposes.
Location: 6727 N Academy Blvd, Colorado Springs, CO
MRFF's reaction was provoked by a billboard posted by the recently-formed Christian fundamentalist Restore Military Religious Freedom Coalition (RMRF). The billboard ridiculously infers that Air Force cadets are somehow unable to practice their religious faith at the Academy, asking cadets “Are you free to say so help me God? They did.” Set against the background of a photo of Mount Rushmore, the billboard constructs a false equivalent between the core values of the Founding Fathers of the United States and the Constitutionally-prohibited religious activity within the government and military that they stood against.
Under withering MRFF pressure last October, the Academy made the phrase "So Help Me God" an optional component of its previously-mandatory honor oath. MRFF currently has 479 cadets, staff and clients at USAFA, 401 of whom self-identify as practicing Christians, both Protestant and Roman Catholic.
Speaking from his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Weinstein explained, "Of course the cadets are free to say 'so help me God.' But this should always clearly be their choice, and not be forced or coerced in any way."
MRFF has scheduled the opposing billboard to be publicly posted within days directly on the opposite side of the RMRF billboard. The billboard depicts a similar photo of Mount Rushmore and is accompanied by the text, "Are you free NOT to say So help me God? George Washington DIDN'T in his officer's oath." The billboard also contains a photograph of an oath signed in 1778 at Valley Forge by President (then-General) George Washington, which makes absolutely no religious reference to 'God' whatsoever.
This is the second time that MRFF has cited the oath. Last November, the constitutionalist civil rights organization illustrated this precise historical point by putting up another billboard in the vicinity of USAFA showing the same photo of the Valley Forge oath.
Continuing, Weinstein also explained how "The Continental Congress did not add the words 'so help me God' to the oath, and, in accordance with the Constitution’s 'no religious test' clause (Article 6, Clause 3), neither did the first Congress under the Constitution in 1789."
Weinstein added, "It is MRFF, and not the [RMRF], that has history on its side."
This latest controversy comes hot on the heels of a recent scandal at USAFA, where MRFF successfully challenged the unconstitutional display of religious scriptures on hallway white-boards by a cadet with leadership positions. USAFA's rectification of the situation led to a fierce backlash by religious extremist and non-religious cadets alike, who engaged in "copycat" white-board postings. The six-time Nobel Peace Prize-nominated MRFF has long contended that violations of the Constitutionally-mandated separation of church and state within the U.S. military pose a grave national security threat to good morale, order, and discipline among servicemembers.
Mr. Weinstein and the foundation have frequently come to blows with the USAFA administration in the past decade due to the permeating, pernicious, profound presence of, and support for, fundamentalist evangelical Christianity at the Academy.
A litany of previous religious liberty violations at USAFA, also exposed by MRFF, have led to alleged "thorough investigations" by the U.S. Air Force and supposed continued efforts to establish a "religious sensitivity training regimen." As recently as mid-October, 2013, Mr. Weinstein met personally with USAFA Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson to inform her of several unconstitutional religious civil rights violations affecting cadets, staff and faculty at USAFA. However, Weinstein has subsequently decried the recently-appointed Superintendent for her feckless inability or unwillingness to challenge the deep-rooted Christian fundamentalist dominance afflicting the Academy.
MRFF Contact: Bekki Miller
Tel. (337) 356-8696