Anti-Religion Group Threatens Lawsuit Over Air Force Football Team Prayer Huddles

| by Nik Bonopartis
Air Force Football Prayer Huddle.Air Force Football Prayer Huddle.

The United States Air Force Academy will continue to allow its football players to publicly pray before and after games, despite complaints from a group that wants the team prayers shut down.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation complained to the academy after Air Force football players prayed in the end zone after a Nov. 28 game against the University of New Mexico, and before a  Dec. 5 game against San Diego State University, according to the Air Force Times.

“The United States Air Force Academy places a high value on the rights of its members to observe the tenets of their respective religion or to observe no religion at all,” the academy said in a statement issued Dec. 23. “Recently the United States Air Force Academy received a complaint about its football players kneeling in prayer. An inquiry was initiated, which found the football players' actions to be consistent with Air Force Instruction 1-1 and its guidance on the free exercise of religion and religious accommodation.”

Mikey Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said the academy's decision isn't the end of the matter. Weinstein, a Jewish former Air Force officer who claims he experienced anti-Semitism while he was on active duty, said his group will consult with its lawyers before deciding whether to go ahead with a federal lawsuit.

The foundation has sued the Air Force previously over proselytizing within the military, and has enjoyed the support of the atheist group Americans United For Separation of Church and State.

“This outrageous internal administrative decision to allow its football team to engage in massive orchestrated sectarian Christian prayers right before kickoff for the world to see on television is a monstrous travesty and brutal breach of federal constitutional law and Department of Defense/Air Force regulations,” Weinstein wrote in a press statement on Dec. 23.

“On behalf of our 144 Air Force Academy clients, including five members of the football team, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation is in consultation with its litigators to decide if it is possible to go into federal court to obtain injunctive relief to stop this pernicious and pervasive practice of fundamentalist Christian supremacy, triumphalism and exhibitionism.”

Sources: Air Force Times, Military Religious Freedom Foundation / Photo credit: Department of Defense via Daily Mail