Military

Friday, December 2, 2016

AFA football coach uses tweets to evangelize

Posted By on Fri, Dec 2, 2016 at 11:18 AM

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Back in 2004, then-Falcons coach Fisher DeBerry was officially reprimanded for hanging a banner in the football team's locker room that said, "I am a member of Team Jesus Christ."

The action came amid allegations from Mikey Weinstein that the Air Force Academy favored Christianity and triggered the academy's vow to instruct cadets in religious sensitivity while balancing their right to freedom of expression with the prohibition of government establishment of religion contained in the U.S. Constitution.

Now, 12 years later, Weinstein's Military Religious Freedom Foundation is strenuously objecting to the Falcon's tight end coach Steed Lobotzke's tweets that involve promoting Christianity.

The tweets were sent on the Twitter account that identifies him as being with the academy's football program.

Most tweets are academy football related and include team and academy photos. But he also uses the account to evangelize, citing Bible verses.
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As an official with MRFF notes in an email to the Independent, "There is no disclaimer on his Twitter page saying that these are his own views and not the views of the Air Force Academy. In checking most of the other USAFA Football coaches twitter accounts, we did not find any evidence of them using their official accounts to promote their personal religion."

Find some examples here, here, here and here.

Weinstein says via email:
Twelve-plus years ago, Air Force Academy Head Football Coach Fischer DeBerry proudly and boldly displayed a large banner across the main locker room of the football team which stated 'We Are All Members of Team Jesus Christ. We Are First and Last Christians.’ At least THAT unconstitutional horror of fundamentalist Christian tyranny occurred before the advent of social media. He intentionally and unlawfully marked that place for Jesus, just as a dog marks a tree, despoiling with reckless abandon the Constitution along the way.

Today, the Air Force Academy senior leadership clearly shows that unchecked Christian extremism is worse than ever at the Academy, especially on its football team, with the shocking discovery of what the football team's Tight Ends Coach, Steed Lobotzke, a 1992 USAFA grad, has been doing with his official USAFA football twitter account. Lobotzke’s official twitter feed is filled with illicit proselytizing in the name of Jesus Christ and even includes such biblical citations juxtaposed with pictures of official football team meetings. Unconstitutional filth, thy name be Steed Lobotzke.

MRFF is representing 5 members of the Academy’s Athletic Department and 3 members of its 'Fighting Falcon' football team as complainants who have come forward on this latest disgrace to the Constitution of unlawful, fundamentalist Christian supremacy. MRFF legal counsel plan to file an official Inspector General Complaint with the DoD/IG on Monday as MRFF’s experience with the Academy’s own IG and the Air Force IG at the Pentagon on the Air Staff has proved both organizations to be less than worthless in protecting the precious freedoms guaranteed by the separation of Church and State in our nation's Constitution.
We've asked the academy to comment on the coach's tweets and will circle back when we hear from the school.

The issue arises in the wake of two other issues at the academy involving Christianity. We wrote about these here and here.

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Thursday, December 1, 2016

UPATE: Did dinosaurs and humans co-exist? Flier at USAFA says yes.

Posted By on Thu, Dec 1, 2016 at 12:19 PM

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UPDATE: This just in from the Air Force Academy:
We have not received any complaints regarding the publication you reference. The clinic staff did not place the publication in the waiting area nor are they aware of how it may have been placed there. Often, patients will leave magazines in waiting areas after they have finished reading them. Additionally, the publication you sent us is not a USAFA publication.

———————-ORIGINAL POST 12:19 P.M., THURS., DEC. 1, 2016———————-

When did Dinosaurs roam the planet?

According to Discovery News, which is described by the newspaper itself as "A publication of Significant Archeological Discoveries and Biblical Truths," dinosaurs and humans co-mingled on planet Earth.

This defies all scientific research, which has long concluded that dinosaurs went extinct some 65 millions year ago and that homo sapiens didn't emerge until about 200,000 years ago.

But Discovery News champions the co-existent theory to under cut evolution, citing on its website that a revelation that humans and dinosaurs lived at the same time would support the claim "that all species, including man, were created at one time."

What you read in your living room is your business, but when this kind of drivel is distributed at the Air Force Academy, it gets people's attention.

One retired Air Force officer encountered the publication during a visit to the academy's ophthalmology clinic and reported it to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, saying:
Most distressing about this situation is that previously on two appointments I had ignored Christian proselytizing materials found there leaving them in situ, but this was just too much.

Here we have the “Discovery News”, that someone has placed in the waiting area, on top of the other magazines, with the obvious intent
that someone could be attracted to its colorful front page and then see a creationist set of ridiculous myths that through a series of contortionist pseudo-science set of disproven facts proves the bible is to be believed verbatim, that is through a series of cartoon panels that Jesus died for your sins.

I have never been so offended in my life and decided at that moment to pick this piece of silliness up and throw it away with the same fervor that it had been placed there. Who did put it there? Was it a member of the staff? Do the doctors of the 10th Medical Group all believe Earth is clearly less than 100,000 years old? I wanted to take this cartoonish piece of propaganda into the Doctors’ office where my wife was being treated and ask the Doctor, “DO YOUR REALLY BELIEVE THIS?” And
then follow up with, “OK, then why do you allow it to be in your waiting room?”

Does Gen [Michelle] Johnson [academy superintendent] refute 100s of years of careful science and contort herself into allow the teaching of creationism in the USAF clinic because of fundamentalist evangelical Christian beliefs?

The purpose of the visit was medical care, not a defense of the theory of evolution against creationism. I also worry we’d get treated differently if they knew we didn’t share their same beliefs about the
world being created in six days and people and dinosaurs walked around together and (fill in the blank). That's why I'm coming to the MRFF.
Of course, MRFF's founder and chief executive Mikey Weinstein wasted no time in putting the word out.

We've asked the academy to address allowing this type of literature on its campus and will circle back when we hear something.

Weinstein's take, via email:
The putridly anti-science, fundamentalist Christian proselytizing material which continually adorns the patient waiting areas of USAF Academy’s Medical Clinic only further establishes how breathtakingly far the Academy has intentionally deviated from generations of Constituionally-mandated church/state separation mandates.

Let’s just be very clear here. Allowing this Christo-centric religious supremacy to fester and bloom, indeed encouraging and nourishing such sectarian evil, is a felony violation under the Uniform Code of Military Justice....

MRFF has had a stern, clarion call “Parental Advisory” out for a number of years about the Air Force Academy warning all concerned of this perpetual, unconstitutional, Christian triumphalism disgrace. These latest two outrageous instances of the proselytizing — an Air Force Academy cadet in his uniform on You Tube and now the USAF Academy Medical Clinic permitting the very visible and public distribution of anti-evolution, anti-Big bang, “Young Earth”, fundamentalist Christian mythology — only serve to boundlessly buttress MRFF’s warnings to every caring and thinking person to carefully avoid this place of bitter religious oppression.
It's worth noting that MRFF recently persuaded an Army hospital in the Washington, D.C., area to remove proselytizing materials from waiting rooms.

The flier at the academy clinic said that Discovery Ministries International is located in Divide and is looking for help distributing its news to hospital waiting rooms, doctors' offices, VA clinics, nursing homes, restaurants, motels, truck stops, schools, etc.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

UPDATE: AFA cadet wears uniform for Christian testimonial

Posted By on Wed, Nov 30, 2016 at 5:17 PM

Cadet Watkins: Called by God.
  • Cadet Watkins: Called by God.
UPDATE:
The YouTube recording was taken down sometime after 9:45 a.m. today.

But it wasn't because the academy demanded that. Rather, the academy ruled the video allowed under the service's rule which permits free exercise of religion. From the academy:
The Air Force Academy's goal is to foster a climate of respect. The Air Force has policies in place concerning what is and is not appropriate in regards to religious expression. These policies aim to balance the individual's right of religious expression with avoiding the appearance of inappropriate endorsement.

When allegations are made about potential violations of these policies, they are thoroughly reviewed.

Regarding the complaint concerning a cadet making an on-line video statement about his High School experience, his personal faith, and preparation for college; we have determined that the cadet's behavior is consistent with AFI 1-1, paragraph 2.11 and 2.12, Free Exercise of Religion and Religious Accommodation.
—————ORIGINAL POST 5:17 P.M. WED., NOV. 30, 2016———————————-

Whatever kind of religious sensitivity training is going on at the Air Force Academy, it's not having the desired effect, says Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.

He offers as the latest evidence a YouTube video of a third-class cadet, a sophomore, giving a testimonial for the Western Christian Schools of Upland, Calif., where he graduated a couple years ago.

The cadet, Jake Watkins, appears in academy uniform saying, "I believe that God has called me to be a leader ... and to work for the Lord and not for men."

Says Weinstein via email:
Here we go again, U.S. Air Force Academy. 46 USAF Academy cadets, staff and faculty join MRFF as its clients in being outraged at this cadet’s blatant sectarian Christian proselytizing video which directly violates Air Force Instruction 1-1, Section 2.12, the No Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution, bedrock U.S. Supreme Court caselaw as well as additional DoD and USAF regulations, directives and instructions.

I spoke for over 7 minutes to Major Jamie Johnson, the Air Officer Commanding of this cadet, in Cadet Squadron 29 and registered MRFF’s and its 46 USAFA clients’ collective and unbridled disappointment and shame at seeing this illicit, unconstitutional and unauthorized Christian proselytizing/"testimony" video which was recorded in the offending cadet’s official Academy uniform.

MRFF demands that this cadet and his responsible chain of command be appropriately and swiftly disciplined pursuant to the cited Air Force Instruction and other applicable military regulations to ensure that no other similar breaches of Constitutional law ever occur again at the USAF Academy.

The Air Force Academy continues to earnestly search for what it’s institutional “brand” should be. Based on the nearly 13 years that I and MRFF have been battling unlawful, fundamentalist Christian supremacy and oppression at USAFA, it would seem, most tragically, that The Cross is USAFA's most deserved “brand’.
Air Force instruction states, in part:
2.12. Balance of Free Exercise of Religion and Establishment Clause. Leaders at all levels must balance constitutional protections for their own free exercise of religion, including individual expressions of religious beliefs, and the constitutional prohibition against governmental establishment of religion. They must ensure their words and actions cannot reasonably be construed to be officially endorsing or disapproving of, or extending preferential treatment for any faith, belief, or absence of belief. 
Read the full instruction here:
AFI1-1.pdf
Weinstein says he's spoken with a person at the academy who has vowed to "get this going in the proper channels."

We've also reached out to the academy for a comment on Watkins' testimonial and will update when we hear back.


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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

AFA sits on FOIA request nearly 3 years

Posted By on Wed, Nov 2, 2016 at 10:43 AM

Three years ago, we wrote about the Air Force Academy's hiring of a person, Mike Rosebush, in 2009 in plans and programs and later transferred him to its Center for Character and Leadership Development. Rosebush believes being gay is a choice and has promoted "conversion therapy" in which people, himself included, try to convince gays and lesbians to simply be straight.
Weinstein: Battling for documents from USAFA.
  • Weinstein: Battling for documents from USAFA.
From our story ("Strange bedfellows," Nov. 13, 2013):
Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, calls hiring Rosebush "a total scandal and outrage." MRFF, formed in 2005 amid claims of religious bias at the academy, has 27 LGBT clients at the school, he says.

"They said it's like living in a North Korean prisoner camp," Weinstein says. "You walk on eggshells in fear of being outed, because of this approved tidal wave of Christianity ... being told you're not good enough, you're sinning because you made a choice to be a sinner, you're lying about being born that way. It strikes at the very core of their being."

Katie Miller, a lesbian, knows that feeling. She resigned from the Military Academy at West Point in August 2010 to protest Don't Ask Don't Tell, and joined the OutServe group. She's since graduated from Yale and works as a researcher at the Center for American Progress.

"This is pretty bad news," Miller says, noting that the presence of someone with Rosebush's beliefs can say plenty to malleable cadets living in an insular environment. "You're learning institutional values," she says. "It's not just a matter of someone who has strong religious beliefs teaching at the Air Force Academy, but many of the beliefs held by Dr. Rosebush are actively harmful to a number of people and to LGBT cadets specifically."
As you might guess, the revelation grabbed a lot of attention nationwide. The Academy superintendent, Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson, issued a statement days later defending the choice of Rosebush. But it took the academy more than a month to release Rosebush's resume, which made no mention of his reparative therapy beliefs and practices. This is the resume he submitted in order to be hired.

Now, we learn that the academy's release of the resume in 41 days was lightning speed, compared to its three-year delay in responding to Weinstein's group's Freedom of Information request.

Back on Nov. 27, 2013, the MRFF sought records of Rosebush's hiring and employment.

On Sept. 27, 2016 — nearly three years later — the academy denied the request, saying it was "totally withheld from release as it would result in a clearly unwarranted invasion of Dr. Michael Rosebush's personal privacy."

Here's MRFF's letter to the academy:
USAFA_FOIA_Appeal_Letter.pdf
Now, the MRFF to preparing to sue the academy in federal court, which will make the second time MRFF has threatened legal action against the Air Force in the last couple of months. The other was a threat stemming from the display of the Bible at Peterson Air Force Base. The lawsuit never was filed, however, because MRFF couldn't find a plaintiff willing to be named and the Bible never was returned to the desk in the work place.

And, it's the second time within the last year that MRFF has appealed an academy FOIA decision. That case involved a 2011 FOIA request. "We are in court," Weinstein says. "We're waiting for the AFA to produce more documents. If they're not going to produce the documents, we will file a motion for summary judgment next month."

In our experience, the Academy FOIA office is the very definition of foot-dragging. We've waited eight to 18 months for responses to our FOIA requests, but three years really does seem over the top.

"It's just dishonest. They have a deplorable record in being open and transparent," Weinstein says. "We filed the [FOIA] appeal. If the appeal is denied we'll open a new federal lawsuit."

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

USAFA Cadets take time to volunteer locally

Posted By on Thu, Oct 13, 2016 at 12:47 PM

USAFA cadets will be parachuting into work sites across the region to perform valuable work ranging from planting trees to serving at the soup kitchen. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • USAFA cadets will be parachuting into work sites across the region to perform valuable work ranging from planting trees to serving at the soup kitchen.
Situated some distance from Interstate 25, it's easy to forget that one of the premier institutions of higher learning is at our backdoor. But the Air Force Academy doesn't only produce military leaders of tomorrow, it also puts the officers-in-training to work in and around this community.

So here's a news release to remind all of us of the good work the academy's cadets do:
Approximately 3,500 Air Force Academy cadets will perform volunteer work for 43 community organizations along the Front Range Friday.

Worksites for cadets will range in location from downtown Colorado Springs to Black Forest and Woodland Park. Start times vary depending on the distance the work location is from the Air Force Academy, with cadets arriving at most El Paso County sites by 8 a.m., and 9 a.m. for other locations. Work will continue until 4 p.m., or until all work at each site is completed.

Organizations the cadets will be working for include:
* American Red Cross, Southeastern Colorado Chapter, testing, repairing and/or installing fire alarms in at risk homes across the region
* Coalition for the Upper South Platte, thinning overgrown trees and brush, to be used as firewood for the needy, and a second project performing erosion mitigation on the Waldo Canyon burn scar.
* Black Forest Together, helping with fire recovery and mitigation work at several homes within the area still dealing with the after-effects of the Black Forest wildfire.
* Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, performing trail maintenance
* City of Colorado Springs Parks and Recreation Department, plant 300 sage plants along camp creek at Garden of the Gods, and maintenance at several parks locations.
* Ellicott Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, performing upkeep at the center.
* Colorado Springs Therapeutic Riding Center, cleaning up stables and painting fences
Rocky Mountain Field Institute, hiking up Bear Creek to refurbish the area, to protect its scarce trout population.
* Care and Share food bank, sorting and distributing food.
* The Salvation Army in downtown Colorado Springs, cleaning and painting its red kettles, preparing and cooking food, grounds work and moving furniture.
Other organizations the cadets will work with include: The Marian House, Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Crawford House, and several elementary schools across the region.

This cadet volunteer work is organized by the Air Force Academy's Center for Character and Leadership Development center, via its Cadet Service Leadership program, which connects community organizations with cadet volunteers. Cadets performed more than 30,000 hours of community service during the previous academic year. Academy cadets have averaged more than 30,000 hours of community service work each academic year, for the past decade.

Organizations that wish to request cadet volunteers for future community service efforts can request cadet volunteers online at: http://www.usafa.edu/Commandant/cwc/cwcx/csl/csl_inputform.cfm?catname=csl

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

The latest on Peterson AFB's Bible dilemma

Posted By on Thu, Sep 22, 2016 at 1:59 PM

The Bible at a work station at Peterson Air Force Base some weeks ago. - COURTESY MRFF
  • Courtesy MRFF
  • The Bible at a work station at Peterson Air Force Base some weeks ago.
Remember the brouhaha over the open Bible at a work station at Peterson Air Force Base?

Well, here's an update.

After command decided that Major Steve Lewis could rightfully display his Bible for other service members to see in the work place, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation submitted a Freedom of Information Act request. The FOIA was aimed at records of the investigation conducted into whether the open Bible violated or complied with an Air Force instruction that prohibits proselytizing but allows expressions of faith.

MRFF's founder and CEO Mikey Weinstein reports today that the Air Force responded to the FOIA by saying no records exist.

Now, this is rather perplexing. While it's possible the request went to the wrong unit, because there's no option in the Air Force's FOIA process to select for the unit in which the Bible episode took place, seems pretty far fetched for the service to fall back on such a weak argument.

In any event, Weinstein is furious.

"There is simply NO excuse for the USAF to say that there are 'no records' or that they have no idea of any other agencies where the records might be," he tells the Indy via email. "We also asked for records on the 'climate survey' done earlier this year where the open Bible was specifically brought up and nothing was done."

The result was the same: The Air Force says there aren't any records of that.

Meantime, MRFF reports that as of late this morning, Maj. Lewis has not restored his Bible to the place at his work station that caused the investigation in the first place, even though, as Weinstein notes, "the Air Force says it is 'well within standards' for the Bible to be there."

We've reached out to the public information officer for Air Force Reserve Command, the unit to which the FOIA was submitted, but haven't heard back. We'll update if and when we hear something.

Weinstein says MRFF is considering a federal lawsuit over the matter.
 
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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Pentagon IG's Office takes up Bible complaint

Posted By on Sun, Aug 28, 2016 at 3:33 PM

COURTESY MRFF
  • Courtesy MRFF
The Department of Defense Inspector General's Office apparently will investigate how Peterson Air Force Base handled a complaint about an open Bible on a major's desk in a common area, which we reported about here and here.

After Col. Damon Feltman ruled it was OK to display the Bible as Major Steve Lewis had done, the founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation sent a letter to the IG's Office seeking further investigation. Mikey Weinstein alleges it's improper for the commander who allowed the Bible to be placed on the major's desk, Col. Lisa Johnson, be the one to further examine the issue in response to a complaint.

Here's the letter Weinstein wrote to the IG:

DOD_IG_Letter_Aug_2016.pdf
Weinstein says the IG's Office has requested additional materials be supplied by MRFF to aid in the investigation.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Locals smile on military, survey shows

Posted By on Wed, Aug 24, 2016 at 12:42 PM

Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station
The results are in and they're not surprising: Colorado Springs loves the military.

That's the upshot of a survey conducted by the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments to "gauge community-military partnerships." The survey also aimed to identify areas where things are working well and issues that need improvement.

The military's five bases here — Air Force Academy, Peterson Air Force Base, Fort Carson, Schriever Air Force Base and the Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station — are said to employ about 60,000 people and bring nearly $6 billion to the local economy.

The survey, taken by 700 people, according to a release from PPACG, is part of the Joint Land Use Study to examine "land-use issues related to military installations in close proximity to counties, cities, and towns."

Unfortunately, the survey closed on June 14 — before we found out that Peterson Air Force Base was contaminating groundwater supplies in the Fountain and Widefield/Security areas that might take a generation of more to clean up. And the pollution, using firefighting foam spewed during practice, has been going on for decades.

We asked PPACG about that and got a message from Rachel Beck, PPACG's policy and communications manager, who said, in part:
The reason no one mentioned the Peterson water issue is that we closed our survey June 14, and media coverage of the water quality issues didn’t happen until July. Neither the JLUS manager nor our air and water quality manager have received the report, but once we do, we will review it to determine if it is relevant to the scope of the Joint Land Use Study. I know you wrote about this issue - do you have a copy you could share?
From the news release about the study:
Several common themes emerged:
• A majority of respondents think the community and military installations are working together well.
• Noise and/or vibration, and use of airspace were the top two issues respondents identified, though 67 percent and 86 percent, respectively, did not find these to be a problem.
• Respondents said development of alternative energy on installations is a positive for the community.
• 69 percent of respondents said that when they moved into their homes, they knew a military installation was a neighbor and there could be land-use impacts.
• Results validated a number of issues JLUS staff had heard about from community groups, individual citizens, and military partners, such as stormwater runoff from new development and noise from various training activities.
• Survey respondents also identified a new issue, keeping the New Santa Fe Trail open where it crosses Air Force Academy property.
As a result of this community input, JLUS staff has formed two additional working groups. Visit the PPACG website [ppacg.org] to review the full survey results.

About the Joint Land Use Study
The Colorado Springs Regional Joint Land-Use Study will promote long-term land use compatibility between local military installations and surrounding communities through the promotion of comprehensive community planning, particularly in regards to specific issues identified by the installations, local government staff and officials, and the community.

The study includes:

• A detailed land use assessment for areas surrounding the installations affecting El Paso, Pueblo, Teller, and Fremont counties
• An inventory of compatibility challenges within the study area
• An assessment of regional growth trends around the installations
• Specific recommendations to promote compatible land use 

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Bible approved for AFB desk

Posted By on Tue, Aug 23, 2016 at 2:24 PM

The Bible as it appeared on Maj. Lewis's desk. - COURTESY MRFF
  • Courtesy MRFF
  • The Bible as it appeared on Maj. Lewis's desk.
The investigation of a Bible placed at a work station of Air Force Maj. Steve Lewis at Peterson Air Force Base has concluded that the "good book" can stay just where he had it.

The Bible had been removed during the investigation, started on Aug. 15, and it's not known at this time if it's been returned.

At issue are complaints from service members received by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation about the location of the Bible, which sits on a desk in an area where many people work in the Reserve National Security Space Institute.

You can read our coverage of the issue here.

Today, we heard from Lt. Col. David Fruck, chief of public affairs for the 310th Space Wing, who wrote in an email:
As pledged, we have reviewed the situation there. We have concluded that no abuse of liberties has occurred, and Maj Lewis's behavior and the workplace environment at the RNSSI are well within the provisions of Air Force Instruction 1-1, Air Force Standards, paragraphs 2.11 and 2.12, "Free Exercise of Religion and Religious Accommodation" and "Balance of Free Exercise of Religion and Establishment Clause."
Fruck, when asked, says he doesn't know if the Bible has been placed at the work station again, but "the review allows him to have a Bible on his desk."

MRFF founder Mikey Weinstein called the investigation "a sham and a travesty," because Col. Lisa Johnson, the commander who approved the Bible's placement in the first place, apparently was the one in charge of the investigation. That hasn't been confirmed by the Air Force, however.
 
"This is a quintessential example of a disgusting conflict of interest," Weinstein says. He adds he plans to demand the Department of Defense Inspector General's Office conduct a separate investigation. "We can't find a single instance where the Air Force enforces Air Force Instruction 1-1."


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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Bible removed from desk at Peterson AFB

Posted By on Wed, Aug 17, 2016 at 10:14 AM

This open Bible at a Peterson Air Force Base work station has been removed pending an investigation. - COURTESY MRFF
  • Courtesy MRFF
  • This open Bible at a Peterson Air Force Base work station has been removed pending an investigation.
In the latest issue of the Independent, we report that a controversy over religion in the military has surfaced at Peterson Air Force Base where a major has displayed an open Bible at his work station. His desk is located in an an open office environment where four desks are located and where dozens of members congregate during unit training assemblies.

We received a statement from Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, that ran too long to include in our print newspaper, so we're sharing it here.

Col. Damon Feltman has authorized an investigation of the issue.

Weinstein's comment:
The 310th “Space" Wing is NOT called the 310th “Space For My Personal Proselytizing Christian Bible Shrine” Wing for a damn good reason. Major Steve Lewis has created an around-the-clock Christian Bible Shrine on his official USAF workstation desk that has been in prominent static display for YEARS. The pages in his open bible on his USAF desk never change, ever. Thus, it is obviously there as a religious display to promote to others his Christian faith. This sectarian display is a disastrous travesty which completely serves all too well as an absolute textbook violation of Air Force Instruction 1-1, Section 2.12 as well as the No Establishment Clause and No Religious Test Clause of the United States Constitution. MRFF is very pleased that, pursuant to MRFF’s specific demand, this bible has expeditiously been removed from Major Lewis’ desk pending the the ongoing Commander Directed Investigation which MRFF also demanded. In my nearly 12 minute call with the 310th Wing Commander, Colonel Feltman, yesterday, he promised me that he would be open and fair in all of his dealings on this matter with MRFF and its 33 clients at Peterson AFB and Schriever AFB. We will hold him to his word. So far, MRFF has been impressed with his honesty and responsiveness.
If you want to read his letter to Col. Feltman, here ya go:
MRFFLetter.pdf
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Monday, August 1, 2016

Peace group plans atomic bomb protest

Posted By on Mon, Aug 1, 2016 at 11:36 AM

CLYDE ROBINSON
  • Clyde Robinson
A group of local residents will mark the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 71 years ago with demonstration outside Peterson Air Force Base from 3:30 to 4:15 p.m. on Friday.

Citizens for Peace in Space is sponsoring the commemoration of the victims of the bombings, which claimed an estimated 129,000 people.

The group is calling for the removal of 49 hydrogen bombs that are on 24/7 alert in Colorado. The Minuteman III ICBMs are part of thousands of nuclear bombs in the United States arsenal, the group says, noting each bomb is up to 20 times as powerful as those dropped on Japan to end World War II.


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Monday, July 11, 2016

Soldiers will do battle — in Rio Olympic Games

Posted By on Mon, Jul 11, 2016 at 2:37 PM

Carson soldiers will compete in the 2016 summer games. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • Carson soldiers will compete in the 2016 summer games.
For all those who thought soldiers did nothing but protect our country 24/7, here's news about Fort Carson's contribution of athletes to the U.S. Olympic team in Rio de Janeiro next month.

According to a news release, the Mountain Post will introduce 15 Army "soldier athletes" at a media availability on Tuesday at 10 a.m. They'll compete in seven sports.

From the release: 
Fifteen Soldiers will represent in seven sports as athletes and coaches at the Olympic Games. Col. J.J. Love, U.S. Army Installation Management Command deputy G9 and chief of staff, will open the press conference. Media will have the opportunity to conduct one-on-one interviews with Soldier-Olympians. The remainder of the day will be demonstrations in the sports the Soldier-Olympians will be representing at the Games.

The Soldier-Olympians are:
Athletes:
Sgt. 1st Class Keith Sanderson – Shooting
Staff Sgt. Michael Lukow - Para Archery
Staff Sgt. John Nunn - Track and Field
Sgt. Hillary Bor – Track and Field
Sgt. Elizabeth Marks - Para Swimming
Sgt. Nathan Schrimsher - Modern Pentathlon
Sgt. Caylor Williams – Wrestling (alternate)
Sgt. Whitney Conder – Wrestling (alternate)
Spc. Paul Chelimo – Track and Field
Spc. Shadrack Kipchirchir - Track and Field
Spc. Leonard Korir - Track and Field
Spc. Ildar Hafizov – Wrestling (alternate)
Coaches:
Capt. Andrew Locke - Rugby 7's
Sgt. 1st Class Joe Guzman - BoxingStaff Sgt. Dennis Bowsher - Modern Pentathlon
So now you can watch for these competitors when viewing the televised games, and cheer your soldiers on.

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Monday, June 20, 2016

Hornet buzzes into Peterson museum

Posted By on Mon, Jun 20, 2016 at 3:46 PM

For those with a fascination with flying, good news came to our in-box today in the form of a news release about the latest addition to the Peterson Air and Space Museum at Peterson Air Force Base.

A Hornet aircraft has been donated, and a dedication ceremony will be held at 11:30 a.m. Friday.

From the release:
The donated CF-188, also known as the Hornet, was part of the Royal Canadian Air Force from 1984 until it was decommissioned in 2007.

The aircraft, given to the U.S. Air Force Heritage Program by the Canadian government, is on loan to the Peterson museum. The donation highlights the joint mission and partnership between the U.S. and Canadian governments.

"We're very excited to receive the Hornet as part of the Peterson Air and Space Museum collection," said Gail Whalen, Peterson Air and Space Museum director. "It will help us share the joint U.S. and Canadian heritage and traditions that keep alive the stories of our military service men and women for all generations."

The Peterson museum contains 17 aircraft and 6 missiles, which tell the North American air defense story since the Cold War.

The aircraft was transferred from Bagotville, Quebec, to Colorado Springs in March, and its paint scheme commemorates Canada's and the United States' partnership within the North American Aerospace Defense Command, a binational military command formally established in 1958 by Canada and the United States to monitor and defend North American airspace.

The Hornet is used in Canada for air defense, air superiority, tactical support, training, aerobatic demonstration, and aerospace testing and evaluation, and is committed to protecting North America in support of NORAD missions.

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Monday, May 16, 2016

Army submits new HAMET proposal

Posted By on Mon, May 16, 2016 at 4:10 PM

FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
The Army has submitted a new proposal for use of Bureau of Land Management land southwest of Colorado Springs for landings and takeoffs in High Altitude Mountain Environment Training. Here's a little background.

"We've recently received an updated plan of development from Ft. Carson and are currently reviewing it," the BLM's spokesman Kyle Sullivan tells us. "We are still working out a few details on the POD [plan of development] with Fort Carson. I anticipate it will be posted on our website for public review in the next month or so.

"The new POD incorporates input provided by the public thus far in the process," he adds. "Once the POD is posted online, there will be another 30-day comment period. After that period, the BLM will begin developing alternatives and will seek additional public input once a draft environmental assessment is completed (before beginning final analysis). I'm not exactly sure about the timeline. Our staff is engaged in several other landscape level planning efforts and we are developing a schedule to facilitate completion of this work."

Meantime, Carson requested and was granted permission to use BLM territory temporarily. See the request here.
The BLM received an urgent request from Fort Carson military base for U.S. Army personnel to conduct limited, short-term High Altitude Mountain Environment Training on public lands in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. Based on a specific set of guidelines, the BLM has determined that this training qualifies as casual use and does not require a permit. The Army will be using five landing zones on public lands in Fremont County from about Oct. 14 to Dec. 20, 2015. The landing zones were selected in remote locations to minimize impacts to neighboring landowners or resources.  

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Friday, April 22, 2016

UPDATE: Academy "partners" with religion, drawing criticism

Posted By on Fri, Apr 22, 2016 at 12:26 PM

Note the academy band offered the concert "in partnership" with New Life Church.
  • Note the academy band offered the concert "in partnership" with New Life Church.
UPDATE:
Here's the Air Force Academy's response to questions about selection of New Life Church for an academy band concert:

The United States Air Force Academy Band performed its Spring Concert on Thursday, April 21, 7pm, at New Life Church. The show was open and free to the entire regional community and those visiting the area.
It's important to note that the Academy Band maintains a rigorous performance schedule in support of Cadet and Air Force troop morale, recruiting and community outreach, and it makes every effort to provide free public concerts as part of their community relations mission. The focus of venue selection is finding the ideal location for the community. Oftentimes a larger venue best supports the needs of that area; however, the band utilizes a variety of venues across Colorado Springs and the nation to provide the public with innovative musical programs.
Department of Defense and Air Force regulations allow concerts to be performed in churches as long as the concert is not part of a service and benefits the community at large; the primary regulation is DoD 5410.18. The band's methodical planning efforts to meet the demands of its rigorous schedule, under the aforementioned regulations, ensure it is never associated with a worship service, that each concert is free and open to the public and of general interest to the community, and that there is no fundraising of any kind associated with the performance.
The USAFA Band presents an average of 500 performances a year; in the last 15-16 months 14 community concerts have been held in church venues: 3.2% of its total performances.
"Since Jan. 1, 2015, that 3.2% of performances were held at: Trinity High School (Catholic) Dickinson, N.D.; St. Paul Lutheran Church, Missoula, Montana; Zion Lutheran Church, Montrose, Colo.; Chamber Recital Series, St. James Presbyterian Church, Littleton, Colo; St Michaels (Catholic) High School, Santa Fe, N.M.; New Life Church, Colo Spgs; Grace & St Stephen's Episcopal Church, Colo Spgs; Littleton United Methodist Church, Littleton, Colo; Strickland Chapel, Nazarene Bible College, Colo Spgs; Grace Lutheran Church, Osage City, Kan.; Benet Hill Monastery, Colo Spgs; United Methodist Church, Brookings, S.D.; Pauline Chapel, Colo Spgs; and First Presbyterian Church, Great Falls, Montana.
We appreciate the continued support of our community and are proud to continue the strong relationship with our neighbors.

Also, our source for this is DODI 5410.18, 4.2.3.5.1, states, "Church as a site for a public concert, speech, or display, when the activity is not part of a religious service."  

The U.S. Air Force Academy Band played some crowd favorites at New Life Church last night, such as Gershwin's "Strike up the Band," and the age-old hymn, "Amazing Grace."

But the band also apparently crossed the line, because it violated its policy by associating with a religious entity, and Mikey Weinstein calls that an "unconstitutional disgrace."

Weinstein, who founded the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, heard about the event from numerous "clients" of MRFF who work or are schooled at the academy.

Here's commentary from one of them:
I've long suspected that there exists a de facto partnership between USAFA and one or more of the large evangelical mega-churches in Colorado Springs, evidenced by the buses and carpools available to take cadets to attend services there as well as outside church involvement in Monday night on-campus religious study programs, etc. No church is more linked to USAFA and Cadet Wing, though, than the New Life Church, clearly visible to the east from many a USAFA dorm room window and the Falcon Stadium Press Box VIP Suites. I was surprised, though, to hear that the Academy and NLC held a joint event—a concert by the USAFA Band—within the 2000+ seat "sanctuary" of the New Life Church's main location last night. The program from the event itself states that the concert was "Presented In Partnership with New Life Church."
... It's particularly troubling because of NLC's history of intolerance against those that don't share their views on LGB rights. An organization that has actively moved against one of its most heroic members stating she was no longer welcome because of her sexuality, seems an unlikely partner for a government organization that by law and public statement prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual preference.That the Academy has had a troubled history in this area is clear to everyone. That they could be so sloppy as to include the NLC emblem on their newspaper ads for the concert is surprising. That they would use the word "partnership" on the program itself is worrying to say the least.
Here's the policy regarding what the band can and can't do:
The United States Air Force Academy Band may perform for public and civic events if the event is of general interest or benefit to a local, state or national community. However, the band may not participate in events that are commercially sponsored; are designed to increase business traffic or raise charitable donations; or are associated with a religious or ideological movement, such as a Christmas parade...."
Weinstein says he'll be filing a Freedom of Information request to try to find out "how all of the particulars of this unconstitutional disgrace came about."

Meantime, he adds via email, MRFF demands the Pentagon Inspector General's Office investigate the matter. More from Weinstein:
The United States Air Force Academy yet once AGAIN blatantly violates not only the United States Constitution’s No Establishment Clause and various DoD Joint Ethics Regulations regarding the provision of endorsements and selective benefits but, this time, it’s very own internal regulations. How you may ask; by incestuously ‘partnering’ with the infamously and notoriously homophobic, evangelical New Life Church in an Air Force Academy band concert reminiscent of a Las Vegas Strip production. 

He likened the academy to a "burned-out, drug addict zombie, saying the school "just canNOT get enough of that fundamentalist Christian narco-putrescence."

We've asked for a comment from the academy and will update when we hear back.
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