Air Force Academy Commandant John Weida Under Review

Air Force Academy Chief Under Review (AP)

The Air Force is reviewing the conduct of the No. 2 officer at the Air Force Academy, a born-again Christian who’s been criticized for promoting his religion inappropriately in memos and speeches, The Associated Press has learned. In a letter dated June 7, acting Air Force Secretary Michael Dominguez told a member of Congress the Air Force inspector general is looking into “allegations of improper conduct” against Brig. Gen. John Weida, the academy commandant.

Dominguez said the review is separate from an investigation by the Pentagon’s inspector general into whether an academy chaplain was transferred early for suggesting evangelical Christians wield too much power at the school.

[…]

Weida has been criticized for sending out an e-mail promoting National Prayer Day in May 2003 and for a memo telling cadets they are accountable first to their God. Superintendent Lt. Gen. John Rosa last week said he has spoken to Weida about both instances and that Weida recognized they were mistakes.

While I agree that Weida’s “God first” remark are inappropriate in the current climate, they’re certainly not anything unusual. It was not all that long ago that cadets were marched to chapel services each Sunday. And being criticized for promoting a day Congress specifically set aside for promotion is amusing, to say the least.

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FILED UNDER: Military Affairs, Religion
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Herb Ely says:

    James,
    A memo telling cadets that they are responsible first to “theirGod” does not in itself constitute an establishment of religion. However, there are a number of questions of etiquette and proper practice of spirituality in the workplace. I took a cut at this over at Spero News:

    Sound principles of spirituality at work and spiritual direction might have avoided the whole problem. Gregory Pierce’s book, Spirituality@Work sets forth some guidelines as to what should not – and should – be said and done. (Click here for my review.)

    Our obligation to help the employer provide service is captured in the old proverb that “If you take the king’s pay, you sing the king’s tune.” For example, taking an hour’s pay for a discussing the local NFL team might be considered stealing time from one’s employer. If so, then an hour spent proselytizing might also be stealing time from service owed to the employer. On the other hand, there are spiritual topics that are a matter of service and should be discussed in an Academy classroom. These include:

    • What is the meaning of my work?
    • How do I deal with others?
    • How do I balance my work with the rest of my life?
    • How do I maintain or change the culture of my workplace?

    Workplace spirituality does not require us to hide our spiritual values.

    It does, however, require that we be respectful of the faith of others. This seems to be where he Academy has fallen short.

  2. Kent says:

    I’m not sure what the objection to the “God first” remark is. It reminds me of the words Thomas More is supposed to have uttered just before going beneath the axe: “I die the King’s good servant, but God’s first.” Not a bad thing for the military to keep in mind, IMO.