The Air Force is reviewing the conduct of the No. 2 officer at the Air Force Academy, a born-again Christian who’s been criticized for promoting his religion inappropriately in memos and speeches.
In a letter dated June 7, acting Air Force Secretary Michael Dominguez told a member of Congress the Air Force inspector general is looking into “allegations of improper conduct” against Brig. Gen. John Weida, the academy commandant.
Dominguez said the review is separate from an investigation by the Pentagon’s inspector general into whether an academy chaplain was transferred early for suggesting evangelical Christians wield too much power at the school.
The letter was written to Rep. Lois Capps, a California Democrat who along with 46 others in Congress signed a letter demanding quick action at the academy. It does not include details of the investigation, including Weida’s conduct.
Weida has been criticized for sending out an e-mail promoting National Prayer Day in May 2003 and for a memo telling cadets they are accountable first to their God. Superintendent Lt. Gen. John Rosa last week said he has spoken to Weida about both instances and that Weida recognized they were mistakes.
An academy spokesman, Johnny Whitaker, said Weida would not be available for comment. Whitaker also declined to comment, as did an Air Force spokesman.
The group Americans United for Separation of Church and State sent a report to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in April alleging that cadets were being pressured by born-again Christians to join their faith. Former and current cadets said students, faculty, staff and members of the chaplains’ office frequently pressured them to attend chapel and receive religious instruction.
The Defense Department investigation involves Capt. MeLinda Morton, who says she was fired from her chaplaincy at the school and her transfer to Japan was hastened because she spoke out about the academy’s religious climate. School officials said her move was routine.