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New billboard put up in ongoing debate over religion at the Air Force Academy

By Olivia Wilmsen, Multimedia Journalist, olivia.wilmsen@krdo.com
Published On: Nov 19 2013 12:07:06 AM CST
Updated On: Nov 19 2013 12:26:44 PM CST

Religion, the air force academy, and the constitution. The "military religious freedom foundation" is launching a media blitz against the academy.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -

Religion, the Air Force Academy, and the constitution: the "Military Religious Freedom Foundation" is launching a media blitz against the Academy.

This comes after an AFA leader says he will discuss his religious beliefs with co-workers. A billboard new says a lot and what it's saying is getting quite the reaction.

When you drive along Garden of Gods approaching Centennial Boulevard, you may notice a new billboard that shouts red, white and blue, but the writing is what's grabbing attention.

"I think my first response was separation of church and state,” said Nancy Blackwell.

The ad quotes Air Force Academy trainer Allen Willoughby, who emailed the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, saying, "I am on staff at USAFA and will talk about Jesus Christ my lord and Savior to everyone that I work with."

"As a Christian, I would be offended if someone came up to me and said that," said one passerby.

This email comes after the Air Force Academy made four words of its honor oath, "So help me God", optional.

The AFA leader's email shocked the MRFF president and founder as well as his clients.

"That is clearly volatile of the constitution, to the bill of rights and the air force regulations," said Military Religious Freedom Foundation president and founder Mikey Weinstein.

435 of their clients are staff and students at the academy. MRFF says many have complained about the email, but the Air Force Academy did not take any action.

"It was a major problem for our clients at the academy, to our legal staff, to our foundation and it's an absolute complete atrocious, wrong,” said Weinstein.

Wrong enough, they believe, to produce a TV Ad saying, "The United States Air Force Academy has become a fundamentalist Christian Military Ministry."

However, not everyone we spoke with thinks the leader did anything wrong.

"In America, we can express our opinions. We don't have to shove it down anybody's throat or we don't have to accept it from somebody, but we have the right to express it,” said Rick Strickler.

The air force academy says Allen Willoughby, the trainer who wrote the email, does not speak for the Academy.

In response to the billboard the Air Force Academy says it, "remains committed to protecting individuals' right to practice any religion they choose, or no religion, provided their practices do not violate policy or law."

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