Atheist group demands retraction of invitation to Air Force base prayer breakfast

Post-Dispatch file photo of Col. Jeremiah "Scot" Heathman, the commander of the 375th Air Mobility Wing at Scott Air Force Base.

Who believes that religious freedom is preserved by forbidding people to do things?

The New Mexico-based Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which says it fights for the “religious freedom” of military families, demanded that the commander of Scott Air Force Base in Illinois retract an invitation he sent to families about a prayer breakfast later this month.

Michael “Mikey” Weinstein, president of the group, said Monday that an invitation, especially one with an R.S.V.P., is the same thing as an order, and that the commander is thereby ordering people to go to a prayer breakfast.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Weinstein said base commander Jeremiah “Scot” Heathman’s invitation was posted on social media. Weinstein said Heathman should rescind the invitation and have it come from base chaplain instead. Heathman is the commander of the 375th Air Mobility Wing at the base.

On Monday morning, the wording on the invitation was changed to take out the commander’s name. Weinstein said he considers it a win.

The breakfast is scheduled for Feb. 25. A woman at the base chapel, which is sponsoring the event, referred calls to the public affairs office. No one from that office was immediately available for comment Monday.

Weinstein said he represents 15 families at the base who are a mix of Christians and non-Christians. He would not make them available to a reporter for an interview, saying they are frightened about retribution by the military.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation was in the news last month when it requested that the commander of Naval Station Newport in Rhode Island investigate those responsible for promoting a discussion series that urges Navy personnel to “Lead like Jesus.”


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