Why the AFA's Religious Tolerance Is Once Again Being Called Into Question

February 4 2010, 11:01 AM

The opening of a worship site for "Earth-centered" religions on Air Force Academy grounds has been hailed as a possible new era of religious tolerance for the military institution. But Technical Sergeant Brandon Longcrier, a self-described pagan, isn't celebrating. Instead, a recent incident has left him alleging a hate crime at the site, reports the Colorado Springs Gazette. In mid-January, before most major news organizations picked up the story, a cross made of two railroad ties was discovered on the worship grounds (via the Colorado Springs Independent). The message has left cadets "scared," Longcrier writes in a letter to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. "Now there are rumors of more hate crimes to come. We do not feel safe." Longcrier also accuses academy officials of being slow to act on the incident, and the MRFF's Mikey Weinstein rhetorically asks, "It's been two weeks---were you going to get around to telling them about this horrible thing that happened, and why haven't you?" (via the Los Angeles Times). Colonel Richard K. Williams, the academy's vice commandant of operations, told more than 4,000 cadets in their dining hall that religious discrimination "will not be tolerated. This location is to be treated with respect and dignity, just as any other religious structure or location," adding if cadets are responsible, they will be "dealt with accordingly."