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Larry R. Brock in helmet.

Larry R. Brock in helmet.

For over 15 years, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) has fought the shockingly systemic and unconstitutional influence and spread of fundamentalist Christian power and supremacy within the US military. While defending over 71,000 MRFF clients in that period in all services and hundreds of armed forces units worldwide, no single institution has more consistently produced odious cases and complaints than my alma mater (and the alma mater of four of my kids), the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA).

Sadly and most tellingly, MRFF still has hundreds of faculty, cadet, staff, active duty, Air National Guard, Reserve, and graduate clients derivative from and with the Academy.

From some of the scandals that led to the founding of the MRFF, like the antisemitic flyers and associated promotion of “The Passion of the Christ” in the Academy’s cavernous Mitchell Hall dining facility as far back as 2004 to basic cadets marching in “Heathen Flight” in the early 2000s, we’ve progressed to warnings about "Special Programs in Religious Education” (SPIRE) groups that coerced misogynistic behavior and encouragement of discrimination against female cadets (“Cadets for Christ”) through role indoctrination, and sought to transform cadets into “government-paid missionaries.”

We warned you that this radical, right-wing influence found not only at USAFA, but tolerated or even endorsed by senior officers throughout the Air Force, caused a toxic leadership environment and eroded unit cohesion, good order, morale, and discipline.

But there is much more; quasi-mandatory Bible studies, uneven off-base privileges to attend fundamentalist churches, off-base organizations led by retired colonels recruiting Christian cadets and forming closed-door clubs that self-select Cadet Wing leadership, causing some cadets to resort to pretending to be fundamentalist Christians to fit in and succeed, pressure to participate in fundamentalist Christian proselytizing projects, professorial coded messages in the classrooms, tacit encouragement of homophobia and gay conversion therapy, and nearly unanimous displays of exclusivist Christian public prayer in the Falcon Stadium end-zone. The shameful list is both ignominious and almost endless.

We warned you that this radical, right-wing influence found not only at USAFA, but tolerated or even endorsed by senior officers throughout the Air Force, caused a toxic leadership environment and eroded unit cohesion, good order, morale, and discipline. We constantly worried and warned that these seemingly (to some) innocuous events would lead to embarrassment for our Air Force Academy or worse — and that’s exactly what’s happened.

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Larry R. Brock, Class of ’89 and a retired USAF Lt. Col./pilot presumptively drawing full military retirement pay and benefits, has now been arrested for his well-publicized participation in one of the darkest chapters of our nation’s history—identified as a USAFA graduate in virtually every major media outlet in America and around the world. The simplest search of his social media presence shows him to be an adherent of exactly the kind of religious/political extremism mentioned above. Indeed, the avatar for his now-deleted Twitter handle was a Christian Crusader warrior.

Moreover, we know of at least three other graduates, all members of one of the USAFA Classes in the 1990s (one being a former Cadet Wing Commander), who attended the failed coup d’etat, posing for smiling selfies in Air Force Academy garb. While we may not know the religious affiliation of all three at this time, we do know that one was widely known among his/her classmates as an overt, evangelizing Christian during his/her cadet days and after.

The MRFF now calls on the Air Force Academy to not only clearly and publicly condemn the actions of its graduate, Mr. Brock, in the harshest possible manner, but also to call on all other USAFA graduates who attended the insurrection to identify themselves and either turn themselves in to police if they broke the law or disavow the violence and storming of the Capitol—if they, themselves, behaved in an otherwise peaceful manner.

We know that one graduate, a newly elected Republican member of Congress from Texas, August Pfluger, embarrassed a multitude of fellow USAFA graduates by objecting to the results of the largest and most scandal-free election in American history—and for that he is complicit in encouraging this mob and should be held responsible for the physical and moral damage caused to our Capitol and the Republic.

The USAFA must address its decades old, complicit role in developing fundamentalist Christian religious/political extremists who are now widely serving in our military. It must, as well, hold itself responsible for creating horrors like Mr. Brock in the same way it does USAFA graduate heroes whom we praise on the other end of the patriotic spectrum.

Mikey Weinstein 200

We told you this was happening.
We told you the consequences.
It happened.
Now condemn it on the public record and work with us to fix it.

Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein, Esq.
Founder and President, Military Religious Freedom Foundation
Honor Graduate, USAF Academy Class of 1977