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Air Force general cut from promotion list

Was involved in religion furor

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- The number two officer at the Air Force Academy, a born-again Christian accused of proselytizing at the school in memos and speeches, was dropped from a promotions list before it was approved by the Senate.

Commandant of Cadets Brigadier General Johnny Weida's name was pulled from the list before the Senate voted Friday to award 21 Air Force generals a second star, Air Force spokeswoman Jennifer Stephens in Washington said yesterday.

Weida, a 1978 academy graduate, had been nominated May 9 for promotion to major general.

It was not immediately clear who removed Weida's name. Stephens said that she had no details but that it is not unusual for a name to be pulled if a nominee is under investigation.

The Air Force Inspector General's Office cleared Weida in June of six of seven allegations that he improperly shared his faith, saying he did nothing wrong. That included his June 2003 ''guidance" to cadets telling them they are ''accountable first to your God." He also urged cadets and staff to pray.

An investigators' report did not detail the remaining allegation, saying only it was under review.

Weida, who has more than 26 years in the service, has apologized for his actions. He declined to comment yesterday.

The academy has been engulfed in allegations recently that evangelical Christians at the school have bullied Jews and cadets of other faiths.

An Air Force task force investigated and said in June that it found no overt religious discrimination but definite insensitivity on the part of some cadets and staff members.

Mikey Weinstein, an academy graduate whose Jewish sons say they have endured anti-Semitic slurs at the school, applauded the decision to remove Weida from the promotions list.

''I believe that Johnny Weida lost his constitutional compass, which resulted in him violating the oath he took to preserve, support and defend the US Constitution -- as opposed to preserving and supporting the New Testament," he said.

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