Academy to celebrate religious plurality with National Prayer Luncheon
By Chaplain (Col.) Randall Kitchens, U.S. Air Force Academy Chaplain
/ Published February 16, 2016
U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. --
The U.S. military has long celebrated religious pluralism, and the support and inclusion of its service members and their families with its National Prayer Breakfast, an annual event symbolizing mutual respect across all faith groups, in a unified inclusive gathering.
The first National Prayer Breakfast was held in 1953 in Washington D.C., with President Dwight D. Eisenhower as the featured speaker. Since then, the event occurs annually at the national level on the first Thursday of February, with every president taking part.
"Today I think that prayer is just simply a necessity, because by prayer I believe we mean an effort to get in touch with the Infinite," Eisenhower said at the first National Prayer Breakfast.
President Barack Obama spoke at last year’s prayer breakfast, saying the U.S. would continue to promote respect for all religions across the world.
"Here at home and around the world, we will constantly reaffirm that fundamental freedom: freedom of religion, the right to practice our faith how we choose, to change our faith if we choose, to practice no faith at all if we choose, and to do so free of persecution and fear and discrimination," he said.
Congress members routinely host the National Prayer Breakfast, but most government offices from the city, county and state level celebrate the nation’s religious pluralism with National Prayer Breakfasts at differing times following the lead of our nation.
Religious plurality across the Defense Department continues to grow. Our nation has made tremendous strides in acknowledging our religious, gender-based and sexual orientation differences.
As proof, the National Prayer Breakfast was segregated by gender, with separate rooms for men and women, from 1953-1968. President Richard Nixon was the first president to preside over a gender-integrated Breakfast.
At our Academy, we support faith-based beliefs and those who choose no faith. We are all united by our dedication to accomplishing our mission of developing leaders of character and to the Air Force mission to fly, fight and win in air, space and cyberspace. Regardless of our choice of individual systems of belief, we are all Airmen.
The U. S. Air Force Academy will celebrate religious pluralism with its own National Prayer Luncheon, 11:30 – 12:30 p.m., Feb. 23 at the Falcon Club. Our topic is "A Climate of Respect... From Good to Great." Chaplain (Maj. Gen.) Dondi Costin, Air Force Chief of Chaplains, is the guest speaker.
It is my sincere hope you will join us in celebrating our Constitutional right to the free exercise of religion, and the religious pluralism of our Total Force Airmen and our great nation.
Call 333-3300 or 333- 2636 for more information.