Jewish Leaders See New AF Academy Religion Guidelines as a Step Backwards

February 17, 2006

Source: The Jewish Journal

On February 17, 2006 The Jewish Journal reported, "The U.S. Air Force last week introduced revised guidelines on religious tolerance and practices at its training academy, and they are widely regarded as a step backward. A number of Jewish leaders say their efforts to change the Air Force Academy's position on Christian proselytizing were overmatched by the evangelical community, which fought any move to restrict religious discussion on campus. Critics have accused the academy of imposing a Christian environment on campus and allowing proselytizing by senior officers and cadets. Some see the new guidelines as more permissive of religious discussion than were the interim guidelines issued last August. Air Force officials acknowledge that the guidelines were revised following an angry response from Christian groups and from 72 members of Congress who sent a letter to President Bush last month... The academy has been under scrutiny since reports surfaced of an overtly Christian environment that permitted Christian prayer and proselytizing by senior officers and did not accommodate minority religious practices. The new rules allow for public prayer, stating only that it 'should not imply government endorsement of religion and should not usually be part of routine official business.' The previous guidelines outlawed public prayer in official settings but allowed for a 'brief nonsectarian prayer' at special ceremonies or events."