The Air Force Academy says Bible verses shared on social media by a football assistant coach were done so on a personal account and therefore not a violation of policy or law.
The Academy was responding to a request from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation to investigate what it called "Christian evangelizing via twitter, blatantly defying Air Force regulations."
The MRFF strongly disagreed that an account can be considered private simply by using a disclaimer.
The issue stemmed from multiple tweets sent by tight ends coach Steed Lobotzke in which he shared Bible verses on an account with the handle, CoachLobotzke. The Twitter bio reads "Follower of Christ, family man, and football coach. Tweets are my own views."
The account has come under the crosshairs of MRFF and its founder and president, Mikey Weinstein.
Weinstein's efforts to stop favored treatment toward Christianity at the Academy began in 2004 when he helped bring a reprimand for then-coach Fisher DeBerry for hanging a banner in the locker room that read, "I am a member of Team Jesus."
"Today, the Air Force Academy senior leadership clearly shows that unchecked Christian extremism is worse than ever at the Academy, especially on its football team, with the shocking discovery of what the football team's Tight Ends Coach, Steed Lobotzke, a 1992 USAFA grad, has been doing with his official USAFA football twitter account," MRFF said in a statement sent to The Gazette. "Lobotzke's official twitter feed is filled with illicit proselytizing in the name of Jesus Christ and even includes such biblical citations juxtaposed with pictures of official football team meetings."
Air Force responded by thanking the MRFF for bringing the issue to its attention, but found nothing wrong with Lobotzke's posts on a personal account.
"Upon looking into this matter, we learned that all athletic coaches' social media accounts are personal and not maintained by the Air Force Academy Athletic Department," the academy said in a statement. "The views and comments within these accounts are personal and not the views of the Air Force Academy or Air Force. However, we appreciate that the accounts could appear official and have advised that an appropriate disclaimer be included to avoid confusion in this regard.
"The Academy remains committed to protecting individuals' right to practice any religion they choose, or no religion, provided their practices do not violate policy or law, or impede mission accomplishment, military readiness, unit cohesion, standards or discipline."
MRFF's response to Air Force's statement?
"This is complete and utter (expletive), there will be a lot more to come on this."