“There may be some circumstantial differences between the ‘Ask an Atheist’ event and Operation Christmas Child and I understand that,” said Michael Berry, an attorney with Liberty Institute, a legal firm specializing in religious liberty cases. “The perception is being created among the public and the parents and the cadets that the Academy is showing favoritism or in this case it’s showing animosity and hostility toward anything religious.”
“If the Air Force Academy is going to allow atheists to host a discussion, they need to be showing the same level of openness to non-atheists – specifically Christians,” he said.
Even the perpetually offended Mikey Weinstein objected to the atheist event.
“They are proselytizing for atheism,” Weinstein told the Gazette. “What if this was ask a Muslim day or ask an Evangelical Christian Day?”
The Academy released a statement pointing out the atheist club had received approval to host their event.
“The Academy allows all cadet groups to host information fairs regardless of espoused religious beliefs or no beliefs at all,” the statement read – noting there were also events scheduled for Christians and Muslims.
“Air Force policy does not limit the substance of voluntary discussions or the exercise of free expression where it is reasonably clear that the discussions are personal, not official, and are reasonably free of the potential for, or appearance of, coercion,” the statement read.
In other words, an email promoting atheism meets the Air Force policy, but an email promoting a Christian ministry providing toys to poor children does not.
“Military members, including cadets, may not use their leadership position to promote personal religious or non-faith beliefs to subordinates because doing so may cause those subordinates to doubt their leader’s impartiality and objectivity and, thereby, degrade unit morale, good order, and discipline,” the statement concluded.
Based on recent events, I do wonder if those in charge of the Air Force Academy believe the only good cadets are godless cadets and Christian cadets are somehow guilty of degrading unit morale, good order and discipline.