DENVER, Jan. 5 (UPI) -- Officials at the U.S. Air Force Academy defended the $80,000 cost of building a Pagan worship area on the Colorado Springs academy's grounds.
Falcon Circle, an outdoor Stonehenge-like worship area built for a handful of Pagan and Wiccan cadets, has recently been under fire for its sizable price tag. However, members of the AFA community have stepped forward to defend the project, among them Col. Robert Bruno, the academy's senior chaplain.
"The First Amendment guarantee of freedom of religion does not just apply to the mainstream faith groups. It also applies to atheists, secularists, freethinkers and those whose belief systems are usually classified under the umbrella term 'Earth-centered spirituality,'" Bruno told The Denver Post. "A denial of constitutional rights to one threatens the constitutional rights of all."
Academy spokesman Don Branum told The Denver Post that Pagan soldiers have also served and died for their country.
In 1959, the AFA built Cadet Chapel for $3.5 million, which caters to Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist cadets. Other faith groups have also used Falcon Circle for religious services. However Pagan cadets receive scheduling preference.