A religious freedom advocacy group has hoisted a new billboard in Colorado Springs denouncing Christian influence over the U.S. Air Force Academy — just in time for President Obama's commencement speech there next week.
"Welcome Mr. President To Our AF Academy. Why is Jesus Commander In Chief Here?" reads the message sponsored by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. The billboard on the east side of I-25, is just part of a media blitz that the group, headed by Mikey Weinstein, is planning for the president's visit.
There's also a plane that will be pulling a banner ad with the same message on May 31 and June 1, and more than 1,300 15-second cable TV ads in the Colorado Springs area from May 27 to June 2.
The foundation, a group that opposes proselytizing in the military, for years has criticized the academy for favoring Christianity over other religions, or no religion.
"The United States Air Force Academy's adhering to the constitutionally guaranteed right of separation of church and state in the U.S. military is a train wreck," Weinstein, president and founder of the organization, wrote in a statement.
"The Military Religious Freedom Foundation has been in literally countless fights with USAFA since February of 2004. MRFF currently represents 414 cadets, faculty and staff at USAFA, of which 372 are Protestant or Roman Catholic."
The Class of 2016's graduation on June 2 will mark the second time Obama has delivered a commencement address at the academy. It will also be his last time as president addressing a graduating class at one of the nation's service academies.
Oriana Pawlyk covers deployments, cyber, Guard/Reserve, uniforms, physical training, crime and operations in the Middle East and Europe for Air Force Times. She was the Early Bird Brief editor in 2015. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.