Cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs are complaining that the school is pervaded with fundamentalist Christianity and that non-Christians are made to feel like second-class citizens.
One cadet, Curtis Weinstein, told ABC News he was insulted by another cadet on a softball field.
“He knew I was Jewish and referred to myself and my religion using the f-word, calling me, like, an f-ing Jew, blaming me for killing Jesus,” Weinstein said.
ABC reported that during a class on the Holocaust, one cadet told a Jewish student that the mass murder occurred because the Jews killed Christ.
Non-believers have also had problems. One former cadet, an atheist who has since graduated, said he posted a poem about atheists in the military on his door but it was constantly torn off. He asserted that cadets were pressured to attend Christian services and that the academy promoted the film “The Passion of the Christ.”
When he complained, the former cadet said, an officer told him he was Christian and considered it his duty to “bring him back” to Christianity.
Last month the Associated Press reported, “Critics of the academy say the sometimes-public endorsement of Chris\xadtianity by high-ranking staff has contributed to a climate of fear and violates the constitutional separation of church and state at a taxpayer-supported school whose mission is to produce Air Force leaders. They also say academy leaders are desperate to avoid the sort of uproar that came with the 2003 scandal in which dozens of women said their complaints of sexual assault were ignored.”
Mikey Weinstein, a 1977 graduate of the academy and father of Curtis Weinstein, said he believes academy leaders have failed to acknowledge the extent of the problem.
“They are deliberately trivializing the problem so that we don’t have another situation the magnitude of the sex assault scandal,” he said. “It is inextricably intertwined in every aspect of the academy.”
Attorneys at Americans United are investigating the allegations.