The U.S. Air Force Academy responded to recent furor over the removal of a Bible verse from a white board on a cadet’s bedroom door, explaining that the individual holds a leadership position and that officials feared the verse might be an improper promotion of his religious beliefs.
Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson said in a statement provided to TheBlaze that she is “pleased” with the way cadets at the academy have “raised and discussed a recent concern” over the issue, going on to offer the school’s account of what unfolded.
“A religious scripture was displayed outside a dormitory room belonging to a cadet who held a leadership position in the squadron,” Johnson said. “Another cadet prompted a discussion of appropriateness, according to policies that leaders will avoid actual or apparent use of their position to promote their personal religious beliefs to subordinates.”
She described the Bible verse — which read, “I have been crucified with Christ therefore I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” — as being placed below the unnamed cadet’s name on a whiteboard.
Rather than an attack on religious adherence, Johnson explained that the verse was removed after considering the cadet’s leadership role at the academy. She also indicated that the move was voluntarily made by the cadet following discussion over the issue.
“The scripture was below the cadet’s name on a white board and could cause subordinates to doubt the leader’s religious impartiality,” Johnson continued. “With the mentorship of the active duty commanding officer as part of the discussion, the cadet squadron commander raised this potential perception and the cadet voluntarily elected to erase the scripture.”
The superintendent said that the situation provided a learning opportunity for cadets at the Air Force Academy and added that the key to solving and exploring complex issues like this is being able to openly discuss and analyze them when they arise.
Johnson said that she is proud that cadets at the academy have been exploring how to balance religious freedom with “caring leadership that inspires all subordinates.”
The Air Force Academy’s response comes just one day after Mikey Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, told TheBlaze that there is a “revolt” underway at the academy over the removal of the Bible verse.
Cadets angry over the decision to remove the verse began posting scripture from the Bible and the Koran on their whiteboards in solidarity, according to Weinstein.
Johnson did not address these claims in the statement provided to TheBlaze.
The comments provided by the academy also don’t mention the Military Religious Freedom, which is taking credit for voicing complaints that led to the removal.
Weinstein told TheBlaze Wednesday that 29 cadets and four faculty and staff members — 26 of whom he described as Catholic or Protestant — disagreed with the verse’s presence and reached out to his organization after the verse was posted on the whiteboard. Weinstein said he then contacted the Air Force Academy with concerns and the verse was subsequently removed.
Additionally, the Air Force Academy didn’t address how it will handle other cadets who have been posting verses from the Bible and Koran. It is unclear how many have participated in this “revolt” against the initial removal of the verse and whether any of these individuals are in leadership positions.
Weinstein told TheBlaze Wednesday that those who put Bible verses on their doors deserve “non-judicial punishment at the very least.” Read our initial report here.
Featured image via Military Religious Freedom Foundation