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Army Football Team Prayer Sparks Complaint, Investigation

Image: Army Football Team Prayer Sparks Complaint, Investigation

Army players line up at the end of the game Sept. 14, 2013, at Michie Stadium in West Point, New York. (Ron Antonelli/Getty Images)

By    |   Friday, 09 Sep 2016 01:59 PM

An Army football team prayer after the squad's upset of Temple last week has led the U.S. Military Academy to pull a video of the postgame locker room celebration and to start an investigation of possible religious freedom violations.

The video showed Army coach Jeff Monken asking a staff member to lead the Black Knights in prayer after their 28-13 win last Friday in Philadelphia, noted the Army Times. The post and video had about 180 comments and 1,600 shares by Sunday.

An archived version of the post on Army's athletics Facebook page no longer includes the video.

"In this case, Coach Monken chose the wrong time, the wrong place and the wrong manner," Mikey Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, told The Associated Press on Thursday, adding that he questioned the U.S. Military Academy's superintendent Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen about the video Monday.

"He can't tell anybody, put your hand on someone and let's pray. You can't do it, particularly when you're the head coach (of a public school)," Weinstein said.

West Point spokesman Francis J. DeMaro Jr. told the AP that a third party made an allegation the video violated the First Amendment rights of some of the cadets.

"As a result of this allegation, West Point officials are conducting an inquiry into the matter," another Army spokesman, Lt. Col. Christopher Kasker, told the Army Times. "The video, which was posted on social media, was removed pending the inquiry."

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which opposes proselytizing in the military, registered a complaint last November against the Air Force Academy's football team because its players prayed in the end zone before its game against the University of New Mexico, according to the Air Force Times.

The Air Force ruled in December that individual players have a right to pray publicly before games.

"The United States Air Force Academy places a high value on the rights of its members to observe the tenets of their respective religion or to observe no religion at all," Air Force Academy officials said then, per the Air Force Times.

"Recently the United States Air Force Academy received a complaint about its football players kneeling in prayer. An inquiry was initiated, which found the football players' actions to be consistent with Air Force Instruction 1-1 and its guidance on the free exercise of religion and religious accommodation," the Air Force statement continued.

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An Army football team prayer after the squad's upset of Temple last week has led the U.S. Military Academy to pull a video of the postgame locker room celebration and to start an investigation of possible religious freedom violations.
army, football, team, prayer
402
2016-59-09
Friday, 09 Sep 2016 01:59 PM
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