Saturday, May 28, 2005

Air Force- Academy or Finishing School

With the recent uproar at the U.S. Air Force Academy over so-called religious intolerance, I wonder what they are teaching there. I think that we can often learn as much or more from what is taught outside the classroom as from what is taught in the classroom.

According to the Washington Post:

Last week, the Washington-based group Americans United for Separation of Church and State issued a 14-page report charging that there is "systematic and pervasive religious bias and intolerance at the highest levels of the Academy command structure."

The report said that during basic training, cadets who declined to go to chapel after dinner were organized into a "Heathen Flight" and marched back to their dormitories. It said the Air Force's "Chaplain of the Year" urged cadets to proselytize among their classmates or "burn in the fires of hell"; that mandatory cadet meetings often began with explicitly Christian prayers; and that numerous faculty members introduced themselves to their classes as born-again Christians and encouraged students to become born again during the term.

Also per the Post- Michael L. "Mikey" Weinstein, a White House attorney in the Reagan administration who graduated from the academy in 1977 and has sent two sons there, said yesterday that "a colossal failure of leadership is resulting in a constitutional train wreck" at the school.

"The place is being held hostage in a vise grip by evangelical Christians, and people are terrified to come forward," he said.

Aren't we being a bit overly dramatic here "Mikey"? So, you want Christians to just shut up and not share their faith, huh "Mikey"? How in the heck did this guy make it through?

This is the second major investigation at the academy in two years. In 2003 an investigation focused on the claims of several female cadets that the academy was guilty of rampant cases of sexual harrassment and asualt.

While there were a few cases of individual sexual assault and harrassment proven at the AFA, it was a far cry from being pervasive or approved behavior. Never the less it prompted an entire overhaul of its policy toward women.

Now we are going to see another investigation that will, most likely, show that some overly zealous evangelical cadets, and officers shared their faith openly. But where is the crime?

I am going to just assume that some upper class cadets did harrass underclassmen by forming a "heathen" flight. But remember that this is a military academy, is that not what upper class cadets do? Is this not a time honored tradition, finding things to harrass plebes with?

Furthermore, if an admonition of the Bible is to "make disciples of all men," would a chaplain not be disobeying his or her faith in not encouraging other to do the same? What does the term evangelical mean anyway? Those that evangelize.

Religious persecution and true bias would be if, there were no oportunity for Jewish, Islamic or other faiths to express themselves in worship, or were forced to attend Christian chapel. It would also be if these and atheists were denied promotion or actually punished for their lack of Christian belief.

It is not being confronted by another faith or being made uncomfortable by the discussion of another faith. So someone is told they are going to hell if they do not convert. That actually happened to me in college. A guy told me I was in danger of going to hell if I did not accept Jesus. I responded that I might go to hell, but I was surely going to send him there if he did not get out of my face. End of story.

If being made to feel uncomfortable in the academy is too much I question whether a person is fit to lead others in combat. Are we developing men and women to become mature, hardenened, tough minded fighting machines and leaders, or charming diplomatic wimps?

I grew up with a big nose. Others let me know I had a big nose. I suffered abuse due to my big nose. But my big nose made me the man I am today. I survived inspite of and possibly because of my big nose. It made me a survivor.

If one cannot survive verbal insults from within the circle of those that are closest to them, they will certainly crumble under pressure at the first attack from without. This is not the type of person whose leadership I would want to entrust my kids life and my nation's survival to.

Further more, I send a warning of being careful of what you wish for, as you might one day get it. You might well remove all Christian influence from the military, and all Christians as well. Of course we have already seen what happens when we have that. It was called the Soviet Union, Red China, and the Viet Kong.

We have seen what kind of military these nations produced free from any and all religious belief. Is this what we want?


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