AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) — A religious-freedom advocate and the Air Force Academy differed Thursday over whether an academy employee violated regulations on proselytizing by saying in an email that he would talk with co-workers about his religion.
The academy confirmed that the email was written by Allen Willoughby, an athletic trainer at the academy's preparatory school. It was sent to activist Mikey Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation two weeks after the academy announced it would make the words "so help me God" optional in an oath that cadets take every year.
The change came after Weinstein complained to academy officials that the phrase violates the constitutional separation of church and state.
Maj. Brus Vidal, an academy spokesman, said Willoughby's email was personal and that he was not acting as a representative of the academy or the prep school. Commanders do not plan to take any action against Willoughby, Vidal said.
Willoughby didn't immediately respond to a phone message or emails.
His email stated, "I am on staff at USAFA and will talk about Jesus Christ my Lord and savior to everyone that I work with." There was no indication in the email or in a written response from the academy whether Willoughby actually has had such conversations.
Willoughby's email accused Weinstein of harassing academy staffers and opposing Christians.
Weinstein said the email violates an Air Force regulation that says leaders may not use their position to promote their personal religious beliefs to subordinates.
The Academy Preparatory School where Willoughby works trains potential cadets who are not immediately accepted by the academy.
The academy established a training program for cadets and staff on religious freedom after criticism that some who were not evangelical Christians felt ostracized.