Religious Intolerance Alleged at Military Academy

The U.S. Air Force Academy, one of the nation's elite military training grounds, is still trying to repair the damage from a 2003 sexual assault scandal. Charges of sexual assault from scores of current and former cadets were often met with indifference -- and even retribution.

Now the academy is dealing with a new controversy over charges of religious intolerance. Of the roughly 4,000 cadets at the Air Force Academy, about 93 percent are Christian. Minority students say they've been subjected to verbal abuse and made to feel like second-class citizens.

Curtis Weinstein said he experienced this on the softball field from a cadet whose name he didn't know. "He knew I was Jewish and referred to myself and my religion using the f-word, calling me, like, an f-ing Jew, and blaming me for killing Jesus," Weinstein said.

Weinstein said he didn't know to whom he could file a complaint, so he went to his father, Mikey Weinstein, a 1977 graduate of the academy.

"He just didn't know what to do," his father recalled in an interview with ABC News, taking a deep breath. "I was pretty thunderstruck. I'm not someone who's ever at a loss for words. He told me that the next time this happened -- that the next time a cadet or someone did that -- that he was going to fight."

The elder Weinstein has taken a lead role in addressing charges of religious intolerance at the academy. "What you have is a lusty and thriving religious intolerance that is objectively manifesting itself in prejudice and discrimination," he said, "and is obliterating the First Amendment of the Constitution."

Others Note Problems

ABC News has learned of charges that, during a class on the Holocaust, one cadet told a Jewish cadet the Holocaust happened because Jews killed Christ.

Freshman Hila Levy said that Jewish students often have to fight to get permission to leave campus for religious services, and that in the process they get a bad reputation that they're trying to avoid campus activities like parades or football games.

"I don't want people to see that in us -- that all these Jews are trying to get out of stuff even if they've never practiced [religion] before," Levy said, adding, "That's not the case."

It's not just Jews who have noted discrimination. One recent graduate filed a complaint all the way up to the Pentagon alleging the academy is "systematically biased against any cadet that does not overtly espouse Christianity."

The anonymous graduate, who says he is open about being an atheist, described what happened when he posted a poem about atheists in the military on the door of his dorm room. "Every day after class it was torn back down," he said. "But I kept putting it back up until my roommate finally threatened: 'If you keep putting that back up, I'm gonna ask for another roommate.' "

His formal complaint contains a litany of charges, including that cadets who didn't go to chapel after dinner were referred to as heathens; that mandatory events often include Christian prayers. Others complained that when "The Passion of the Christ" was released in theaters, it was advertised in dorms, classrooms and on every place setting in the dining hall.

The complaint singles out one of the top generals at the academy, Johnny Weida, who sent a letter to cadets saying, "You are accountable first to God." In fact, Air Force Academy cadets swear an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution first.

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