By M.E. SPRENGELMEYER
Scripps Howard News Service
November 10, 2005
The amendment to a pending defense authorization bill was inspired by the recent controversy over religious tolerance at the academy's campus in Colorado Springs, Colo., where complaints about alleged proselytizing by top officers prompted a Pentagon review and series of new restrictions.
Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., complained at a recent academy Board of Visitors' meeting that new, draft regulations could squelch religious expression.
On Wednesday, he co-sponsored the amendment by Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., to authorize superintendents at the three major military academies to sanction voluntary, non-denominational prayers at authorized events or activities.
"He thinks this is necessary because it reaffirms the superintendent's authority regarding prayer at the academies, which has come into question with the Air Force's proposed guidelines on religious expression at the academies," said Allard spokeswoman Angela de Rocha.
Former academy graduate Mikey Weinstein and four Air Force officers have filed a lawsuit, claiming that evangelical Christian officers and cadets engaged in improper proselytizing and attempted to impose their religion on others.
Conservative Christian groups have fought back in court and in the media, saying the lawsuit and related policies are attempts to silence religious speech.
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