The Fort Riley prayer breakfast is off, but the war of words over its originally scheduled speaker has picked up steam.
Retired Lt. Gen. William "Jerry" Boykin took to Facebook on Thursday to demand that Maj. Gen. Wayne Grigsby, commanding general of 1st Infantry Division, apologize to soldiers at the Kansas installation for postponing the breakfast, which had been set for Monday as part of the unit's "Victory Week" celebration.
The postponement came Wednesday after complaints to Grigsby from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, citing Boykin's past statements regarding Islam, among other concerns. Boykin had been invited to a similar event at the U.S. Military Academy in 2012 but decided not to attend after similar complaints were raised by advocacy groups including MRFF.
The postponement stemmed from a scheduling conflict with other Victory Week events and not from the MRFF complaint, a 1st ID spokesman said Wednesday, adding that Boykin would not be invited back when the event eventually takes place "in an effort to ensure everyone in our broad and very diverse community feels welcome at any event on Fort Riley."
"Capitulating to secularist groups to stop soldiers from hearing Christian voices and views does a disservice to the men and women who serve our country," Boykin wrote in his post.
The lawmaker did not mention Fort Riley leadership directly, instead addressing MRFF head Mikey Weinstein. He called the former Air Force officer "an embarrassment to the honorable men and women in the Armed Forces" and "anti-First Amendment" for objecting to Boykin speaking at a voluntary event.
Weinstein called both responses "the same old claptrap."
"We don't care about anybody's view about Jesus Christ, or Allah, or Spider-Man," said Weinstein, whose group claims more than 45,000 clients in and out of uniform. "We only care about the time and the place and the manner in which they deploy their faith, or lack thereof."
Boykin, an executive vice president with the conservative Family Research Council, did not respond Wednesday to requests for comment through the FRC. A 1st ID spokesman Friday had no immediate comment on Boykin's remarks, which included contact information for the installation. Many Facebook commenters replying to Boykin's post and others indicated they had reached out to Fort Riley to weigh in on the issue.