The U.S. Military Academy's top general says "valid concerns" have been raised over a team prayer after Army upset Temple in a Sept. 2 football game.
After Army produced and posted video of Army's head coach Jeff Monken instructing a staff member to lead the prayer, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation received approximately 90 complaints. The Foundation regularly raises questions about separation of church and state in the military. The video has since been removed from West Point's website. To leave it online would have been "like grinding salt into the wound," according to Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen, superintendent of West Point.
"Maybe 90 percent of the people who were out there supported the prayer,” Caslen told The Washington Post on Friday. "But, when you look at it from a legal basis and from a legal standpoint, and then you look at it from a leadership standpoint, there were some concerns, and I think they’re valid concerns."
Calsen said it was incorrect from a legal and leadership standpoint for Monken to direct or encourage a prayer while serving in a leadership position at a government-funded public institution, according to the Post.
“It creates an atmosphere where it is expected from everybody to say a prayer regardless of their faith or no faith,” Caslen said. “It’s like me as the superintendent of the Corps of Cadets saying, ‘Let’s take a knee and say a prayer together.’ I don’t have the authority to do that. I cannot use my position of authority — my public position of authority — to direct my subordinates to do something that is inconsistent with their rights. So, that’s probably where we crossed the line.”