The U.S. Air Force disinvited conservative leader Tony Perkins from a prayer breakfast in February because officials were concerned about Perkins' vocal opposition to President Obama's policies, according to new documents obtained by Judicial Watch, a government watchdog.
Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a conservative advocacy group based in Washington, was scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the 2010 National Prayer Luncheon at Andrews Air Force Base until the Air Force withdrew the invitation in a letter sent in January.
Perkins has been outspoken in his opposition to overturning "don't ask, don't tell," the ban on gays serving opening in the military.
The letter cited the group's website statements, calling them "incompatible in our role as military members who serve our elected officials and our commander in chief."
Judicial Watch said the episode calls into question the Obama administration's commitment to the First Amendment.
"It seems like this administration's enemies list just gets longer and longer," Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a press release. "Mr. Perkins is not only a respected national leader who has held public office but he is also a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces."
"I think it unconscionable that the Air Force would ban Mr. Perkins from speaking to a prayer luncheon on a military base due to his organization's opposition to some of President Obama's issues," he said.
But Air Force spokesman Lynda Valentine said the military branch stands by its decision and that Judicial Watch got it exactly right: The Air Force disinvited Perkins because airmen were complaining about the personal attacks on Obama they found on his website.
"We serve whichever president is in office; we are apolitical," she said. "The prayer luncheon was designed to be a uniting event and we found Perkins would not have been a uniting factor."