Judge dismisses case against Air Force Academy prayer luncheon

COLORADO SPRINGS — A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit which sought an injunction to block a prayer luncheon after a Christian lieutenant was invited to speak at the Air Force Academy. An advocacy group and five co-plaintiffs filed the lawsuit against the Air Force Academy.

The suit was filed in Denver federal court by David Mullin, an academy professor, and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. The U.S. District Judge Christine Arguello ruled the plaintiffs did not prove they had legal standing to file the suit.

The judge also ruled that the event was voluntary and those not attending were not subject to any punishment.

Retired Air Force Col. Bill Spencer said that the prayer luncheon is simply part of the chapel program.

"Chaplains and chapels are part of the free exercise of religion spelled out in the U.S. Constitution," Spencer said. "The government cannot prevent service members from exercising that right.

"Chapels are required so people can exercise their religion freely. That's why we have chapels and chapel programs. For the Military Religious Freedom Foundation to find fault with something that is required by the First Amendment shouts hypocrisy to those of us who have served," Spencer said.

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