The Restore Military Religious Freedom coalition, a group of two dozen like-minded religious liberty organizations, announced Thursday that they are ready to offer assistance to any Air Force Academy cadet who faces repercussions for writing Bible verses on their hallway whiteboards.
The Air Force Academy admitted Wednesday that a cadet leader had to remove a Bible verse he had displayed outside his dorm room because it offended non-Christians and could “cause subordinates to doubt the leader’s religious impartiality.”
The controversy started when a cadet leader posted a passage of scripture on his whiteboard with a quote from the New Testament book of Galatians. “I have been crucified with Christ therefore I no longer live, but Christ lives in me,” the verse from Galatians 2:20 read.
The brave cadets who spoke to me said it’s disturbing to watch the academy trample on the Constitution.
Friends of the cadet tell me the young man had posted the verse several months ago and considered the New Testament passage as a source of inspiration.
Mikey Weinstein, director of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, told me that 29 cadets and four faculty and staff members contacted his organization to complain about the Christian passage.
"Had it been in his room -- not a problem," Weinstein told me. "It's not about the belief. It's about the time, the place and the manner."
He said the Bible verse on the cadet's personal whiteboard created a hostile environment at the academy.
"It clearly elevated one religious faith [fundamentalist Christianity] over all others at an already virulently hyper-fundamentalist Christian institution," he said. "It massively poured fundamentalist Christian gasoline on an already raging out-of-control conflagration of fundamentalist Christian tyranny, exceptionalism and supremacy at USAFA."
Exactly two hours and nine minutes after Weinstein complained to Air Force Academy Superintendent Michelle Johnson, the Bible verse was erased from the cadet leader’s whiteboard.
A spokesman for the Air Force Academy confirmed that the religious text was cleansed from the board – even though there is no specific rule against posting religious messages.
"The whiteboards are for both official and personal use, but when a concern was raised we addressed it and the comment was taken down," Lt. Col. Brus Vidal, Air Force Academy spokesman told me in a written statement.
Johnson said in a written statement that the verse was removed because there was a “potential perception” problem.