Removal of Air Force Accountability Language in Defense Appropriations Bill Sends the Wrong Message
New York, New York, June 21, 2005….The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) sharply criticized a vote in the House of Representatives to weaken language in the Department of Defense Appropriations bill concerning religious intolerance at the U.S. Air Force Academy.
The previous language, contained in an amendment sponsored by Rep. David Obey (D-WI), addressed reports of "coercive and abusive religious proselytizing" at the U.S. Air Force Academy and called on the Secretary of the Air Force to develop a plan to address these concerns. That amendment was defeated by a vote of 198-210. The House then approved a weakened amendment which omitted any reference to proselytizing.
"At a time when Congress should be complementing and expanding the initial welcome efforts by the Air Force Academy to address incidents of religious intolerance, the House has acted to minimize them," said Barbara B. Balser, ADL National Chair and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "As the Academy addresses documented reports of religious intolerance and coercive proselytizing and continues its efforts to change the institutional climate, this action sends exactly the wrong message. Congress should be forcefully backing the Academy's efforts – not ignoring reports of unwelcome proselytizing and ducking the need for further action.
"We will press for stronger language and corrective action to be inserted when this measure comes up for Senate consideration," added Mr. Foxman.
The Superintendent of the Air Force Academy, Lt. Gen John H. Rosa, Jr., addressed the League's National Executive Committee in Denver on June 3. He acknowledged that a problem of religious intolerance exists and that the Academy was working toward a "culture change" through education and training.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.