Posted: Oct 30, 2010 5:39 PM by Matt Stafford
Updated: Oct 30, 2010 7:46 PM
Survey results from cadets and staff through the 2009-2010 Climate Assessment Survey at the Air Force Academy were not originally intended to be released, but are showing progress and problems in a number of areas affecting the lives of those at the Academy.
In some areas it's good, like how it shows less pressure to attend religious activities for cadets; but there has still been a decline in the perception that the Academy fosters religious freedom.
The survey also had more alarming numbers, like 33 responders saying they fear for their physical safety due to religion -- surprisingly, most of them Christian.
Through their public affairs division, Academy Superintendent, Lt. Gen. Michael Gould said:
"I'm encouraged by the mostly positive trends we saw from the survey, but I also know we've got some work to do in regards to the basics of respect and dignity towards each other."
The four main areas of concern were freedom of religious expression, sexual harassment, physical safety and discrimination.
Several groups initially expressed interest in the results, like Academy graduate Mikey Weinstein who now runs the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.
"We filed the Freedom of Information Act request, demanding it," Weinstein says, adding that they only got the results after writing a letter to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and pressure was added from other groups along with his own.
Weinstein's group speaks for more than 20,000 active military members, including 172 cadets and staff at the Air Force Academy.
"We've talked to many of our cadets and staff in the last two days who've told us that this (survey) will simply be cosmetic," says Weinstein. "They're terrified. They're being forced to live a lie; many of them have to pretend to be fundamentalist Christians in order to not face this tyranny."
Weinstein says attorneys for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation are looking into the Academy's handling of the surveys results as well as their compliance separation of church and state as written in the constitution. He says they are carefully considering legal action.
To see the results of the Air Force Academy's 2009-2010 Climate Assessment Survey, click here.