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Attorney: AF Academy violated cadet's religious freedom

Chad Groening   (OneNewsNow.com) Monday, March 17, 2014

A religious liberty law firm says the U.S. Air Force Academy has confirmed it would have forced a cadet to remove a Bible verse posted outside his room even if he hadn't agreed to do so voluntarily.

As reported Friday, attorneys with Liberty Institute flew to Colorado Springs following the news that an Air Force Academy cadet had removed a Bible verse from his whiteboard outside his dorm room, apparently after anti-Christian zealot Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation complained about it. But Liberty Institute learned that the unidentified cadet had voluntarily removed the verse and it had nothing to do with Weinstein's complaint.

Now Mike Berry of Liberty Institute reports that according to the school's attorney, the cadet's voluntarily action would not have mattered.

Berry

"I asked what would have happened if the cadet had decided that he didn't want to remove the verse; that for whatever reason he felt very strongly about keeping the verse on his whiteboard," the attorney tells OneNewsNow. "And the response was that they likely would have ordered him or directed him to remove the verse – or they would have removed it for him."

Berry contends this is clearly a denial of the cadet's right of freedom of religious expression.

"He said: Well, the Air Force's official policy – and this is coming from the very top, from the Pentagon level – is that the term 'free exercise of religion' does not extend to speech of this kind," the attorney continues. "Either verbal speech or writing a verse on a whiteboard, he said, would not fall under the protection of free exercise of religion as it is written in the First Amendment."

The Liberty Institute spokesman hopes some Air Force Academy cadets or Air Force airmen will come forward and complain so that his legal group can pursue some legal remedy.


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