Officials at President Obama’s federally-controlled U.S. Military Academy has launched an investigation after a video showing the West Point football team engaged in a postgame prayer caused separation-of-church-and-state complaints.
West Point officials removed the video showing the team prayer, reporting that several outside groups complained when a video showing the celebration in the locker room after a recent 28-13 upset over Temple University depicted the players kneeling and ending a prayer with an “Amen” in unison.
According to the Army Times, West Point administrators said an investigation was launched after “receiving multiple complaints” that the video proved head coach Jeff Monken forces Christianity on the team in contravention to the purported rule of the separation of church and state.
“As a result of this allegation, West Point officials are conducting an inquiry into the matter,” West Point spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Kasker said on Tuesday. “The video, which was posted on social media, was removed pending the inquiry.”
It is likely the loudest complaint came from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. The MRFF now claims to have 44 West Point graduates, 40 current members of the school’s staff, and six football players joining them in the complaint.
“In this case, Coach Monken chose the wrong time, the wrong place and the wrong manner,” Weinstein told the Associated Press. “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).”
MRFF’s group of West Pointers is an implied threat of legal action, though the group has said it is not yet ready to file a federal lawsuit.
The group, though, lost a similar battle against the Air Force last year when the Air Force football team was seen kneeling in prayer prior to a game. The academy investigated the team’s action and told the MRFF that the prayer was within military regulations.
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