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AF Coach To Remove Christian Banner
Associated Press
November 22, 2004

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. - The Air Force Academy's longtime football coach has agreed to remove a Christian banner from the team's locker room after school administrators announced they would do more to fight religious intolerance.

Coach Fisher DeBerry agreed Friday to remove the banner, which displayed the "Competitor's Creed," including the lines "I am a Christian first and last ... I am a member of Team Jesus Christ."

DeBerry put the banner up Wednesday to encourage the team, which has experienced one of its worst seasons in recent years, academy spokesman Lt. Col. Laurent Fox said.

A day earlier, academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. John W. Rosa announced the school would do more religious tolerance training after some nonreligious cadets reported on a survey that they felt ostracized. Others reported hearing religious slurs or jokes.

Outgoing Air Force Secretary James Roche issued a statement Friday backing the academy's effort. "Our policy is clear. Tolerance of gender, racial, ethnic and religious diversity is required at our Air Force," Roche said.

In September, academy officials issued a memo explaining the government's e-mail policy after some staffers put biblical verses at the bottom of their e-mails. Some cadets were admonished in March for using academy e-mail accounts to encourage other people to see "The Passion of the Christ," Mel Gibson's movie about the crucifixion.

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Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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