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Air Force secretary confirms commitment to religious respect

5/24/2005 - SAN ANTONIO (AFPN)  -- The Air Force remains “deeply involved” in its commitment to ensure spiritual values of all people are respected at the U.S. Air Force Academy and throughout the Air Force, said Acting Secretary of the Air Force Michael L. Dominguez May 24.

Air Force leaders are focused on religious-respect issues at the Air Force Academy, he said. When these issues became a matter of concern, academy leaders reported them up the chain of command, to the school’s Board of Visitors and to the public.

In dealing with the matter, the secretary sent a task force to the academy to assess areas ranging from Air Force policy and guidance on the subject of religious tolerance to practices by the academy chain of command that either enhance or detract from a climate that respects the “free exercise of religion” and the “establishment clauses” of the First Amendment.

In addition, the Air Force sent a team to the academy in December led by the deputy assistant secretary for equal opportunity and a former national director of the American Jewish Committee. The team was dispatched to provide an initial assessment and advice to academy leaders.

That team’s feedback resulted in mandatory training seminars, called Respecting the Spiritual Values of all People, now conducted for cadets, staff members and faculty that address the Air Force’s diversity and the need to respect others, regardless of belief.

Mr. Dominguez said he “looked forward to the task force’s report in the near future” and that he will “continue to provide support to the Air Force Academy, one of our nation’s pre-eminent institutions, as we work through this issue in a very open and public fashion.”

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