An Air Force test question about constitutional rights has led to accusations that the service is not only confused about religious freedom protections, but also believes civil libertarians are predators.
Thirty-one people have contacted the Military Religious Freedom Foundation about an Air Force security administration test that confuses the First and Fifth Amendments, said Mikey Weinstein, the group’s founder and CEO.
One captain sent an email to the foundation saying the test asks which “commonly violated civil liberty” is protected by the Fifth Amendment. The captain tried to pick the answer that defined the legal protections under the amendment, but he was told he was wrong.
The captain, whose name Weinstein is withholding, eventually selected the answer that said the Fifth Amendment says “Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion,” which the test accepted as the correct answer.
In reality, religious freedom is one of the protections under the First Amendment.
“I knew what the real amendment was, but what about some of our young airmen who may not have as much exposure to the Constitution, the amendments, and their importance to the country?” the captain said in the email. “Would they walk away thinking the [Fifth] Amendment is about restricting the free exercise of religion? I know quite a few patriotic citizens that would be angry that something so simple had been overlooked.”
When Air Force Times forwarded the captain’s email and screenshots of the test to the Air Force on Thursday, service spokeswoman Rose Richeson said the Air Force was working to fix the issue.
“The images [screenshots] will assist us in directing the owners of that particular training block to the specific question described by the member,” Richeson said in an email. “The Air Force will correct any inaccuracies with the test.”
Still, the episode has left Weinstein incensed for two reasons: 1. The Air Force was unable to correctly describe the Constitution that airmen are sworn to defend; 2. By saying that religious freedom is a “commonly violated civil liberty,” the test implies that groups like his prey on Christians.
“The Air Force needs a complete stand down day — probably more like a stand down week, because everyone in the Air Force including civilians has to swear an oath to support and defend and protect the U.S. Constitution,” Weinstein told Air Force Times on Thursday.
Weinstein’s group is calling for an aggressive investigation into how the mistake happened and punishment for those involved.
“The approved solution of the Air Force is that your free exercise rights are under attack — and let me assure you that they don’t believe they’re under attack by anybody other than civil rights organizations like the Military Religious Freedom Foundation,” he said. “It’s pretty pathetic and it’s extremely revelatory.”