The Military Religious Freedom Foundation and five client co-plaintiffs have filed a Federal lawsuit seeking injunction to stop the United States Air Force Academy’s unconstitutional National Prayer Luncheon. A companion “Motion for Temporary Injunction” was filed in Federal District court (Colorado) demanding that the United States Air Force Academy cancel its upcoming National Prayer Luncheon on the grounds that it is a blatant violation of the plaintiffs’ Constitutional rights as guaranteed by the First Amendment. MRFF has retained the services of renowned civil rights attorney David Lane in filing this injunction.
MRFF has previously demanded that USAFA rescind their invitation to former Marine Lt. Clebe McClary to speak at the aforementioned National Prayer Luncheon event. This lawsuit filing is in direct response to the Air Force Academy’s lack of acceptable response to MRFF’s demand. “Egregiously sectarian statements like [those] from former Lt. McClary blatantly exclude not only non-Christians, but also the many Christians who do not subscribe to a particularly fundamentalist view of Christianity,” said Michael “Mikey” Weinstein, President and Founder of MRFF. Please see below for links to articles providing extensive background on former Lt. McClary’s invitation to USAFA’s prayer luncheon.
A recent article from Truth-Out, which provides a thorough explanation and background information regarding USAFA’s invitation of former Lt. McClary, entitled “Onward Christian Soldiers … To Hypocrisy”:
Another recent article that provides background information on former Lt. McClary’s invitation to USAFA’s prayer luncheon, entitled “Air Force Academy Speaker Thinks USMC Means ‘United States Marines for Christ’”
The third in a series in the National Atheism Examiner, written by Al Stefanelli entitled, “US Air Force Academy leaders continue to violate First Amendment”
McClary’s website describes him as a motivational and inspirational speaker and that the Marine Corps abbreviation “USMC” means “U.S. Marine for Christ” according to him. He states that he is now “in the service of the Lord’s Army.”
David Lane, who is the Denver attorney representing plaintiffs, maintains that the lawsuit is not anti-religion. Anyone can use school facilities for an event that includes a religious speaker, but it has to be clear that the school will give the same opportunity to other groups. The problem here is that the USAFA appears to be endorsing and promoting the event using government e-mail and the academy insignia.
The government is not permitted to hold sway to any religion, and when the command structure of the Air Force Academy sponsors and endorses one, it is a violation of the First Amendment. It has also been revealed that McClary’s book will be sold by the base exchange at the academy, which contributes to the appearance that the event is being promoted by the Air Force Academy.
McClary and others claim not to understand what the big deal is because it is voluntary, which has been verified. However, the fact remains that according to the suit the five faculty members and unspecified other people at the academy believe their careers would be in danger if they do not attend. This is made clear considering the fact that the lawsuit only identifies the other plaintiffs as John Doe No. 1 through No. 4.
This whole thing is obviously a clear violation of the separation of church and state.
You can view the legal documents here: