Bookmark and Share
Printer Friendly
June 21, 2005

House GOP Defeats Effort to End Proselytizing at Air Force Academy

Listed in: Separation of Church and State, NJDC News, Press Releases

Washington, DC: In an ugly floor debate Monday in which one Republican accused Democrats of waging a "war on Christianity," the House GOP -- on a party-line vote -- defeated an amendment by Rep. David Obey (D-WI) to squarely address religious coercion and proselytizing at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado. The Obey amendment would have criticized "coercive and abusive religious proselytizing" of cadets at the Academy while observing that "expression of personal religious faith is welcome" throughout the military.

"It is astonishing that Tom DeLay and the entire House GOP Leadership does not have the courage or conviction to stand up and say there is no place for coercive proselytizing at the United States Air Force Academy," said National Jewish Democratic Council Executive Director Ira N. Forman. "This amendment would simply have said that such terrible religious intolerance does not belong at this prestigious academy where the United States trains the future leaders of our Air Force. Or does the House GOP actually believe that such religious coercion should be the order of the day at the Air Force Academy? Do they perhaps think that the Air Force does not need a plan to create a climate free from religious intimidation, as this amendment would have called for?

"The intrinsically American sense of religious liberty that the separation of church and state ensures is one of the fundamental freedoms that our men and women in uniform fight for around the world. Monday was clearly no 'profile in courage' for House Republicans," Forman added.

Of the religious intolerance at the Academy, the Associated Press has previously written that "A top Air Force Academy chaplain said Thursday [May 12th] she was fired for speaking up about anti-Semitism and other reports of religious intolerance among cadets and staff," and that there have been "allegations that cadets were pressured to attend religious services, that public prayers were held before official events and that Jewish cadets were harassed and insulted."