Udall Says Air Force Academy Can Carry Out Mission And Protect Religious Freedom
(Washington, D.C.) - Congressman Mark Udall (D-CO), member of the House Armed Services Committee's Subcommittee on Personnel, released the following statement regarding today's hearing on the report on religious climate at the U.S. Air Force Academy:
"The report on the religious climate at the U.S. Air Force Academy concludes that there is not a climate of overt religious discrimination but a failure to fully accommodate all cadets' needs and a lack of awareness between permissible and impermissible expression of beliefs. The report also reports that the Academy is aggressively engaged' in dealing with this issue.
"I am encouraged by this report, but also recognize that squaring these conclusions with statements made by Lt. Gen. John Rosa and with other reports, is far from clear. Lt. Gen. Rosa has said that the problem is pervasive', that it keeps him up at night, and that it could take six years to fix'.
"I am also encouraged that the Academy has launched a new religious tolerance training program, but I suspect that it will take more than a training program to change the Academy's climate. An unwillingness to tolerate other cultures and faiths is not only inconsistent with our constitutional principles, it is detrimental to the mission of the Air Force and of the military in general.
"The Academy can and must carry out its mission and protect religious freedom for all cadets. Many people seek strength from their faith, and this may be especially true for our men and women at the Academy who are making a big sacrifice in serving our nation and a cause greater than their own self-interest.
"Every year, my office nominates young men and women to serve in the Air Force Academy -- one of the most prestigious of our national service academies. I feel an obligation to keep faith with these young people and their parents, and while I am encouraged by the general direction of this report, I plan to talk to Air Force Academy officials and learn first-hand what is underway to protect the cadets and enhance the mission at the Academy."