Sunday, May 15, 2005

My Air Force

Whatever is ailing the Air Force Academy, and the academy has had its share of ailments over the years, campus pressure on cadets to adopt a particular set of religious beliefs will not cure it. Last year, academy officials promised to do something about widespread complaints of unconstitutional proselytizing of academy students by evangelists whose efforts were blessed by authority figures in the chain of command. An authorized investigation by the Yale Divinity School and local news reports documented numerous instances of pressure on cadets to adopt Christian beliefs and practices. Such pressure came from dozens of faculty members and chaplains, and even the football coach, with his "Team Jesus Christ" banner. [NYT]

[. . .]

I guess I've been putting off commenting on this situation because it hits close to home. One of my closest friends is an instructor at the Academy, another is an alumnus, and several are still active duty officers of the colonel and general officer ranks. My own Air Force career spanned 8 years (6 active, 2 reserve) and I have a great love for my former branch of service. This kills me.

Looking back, I got out in '86, I remember the pressure placed upon us in the enlisted ranks to accept the Evangelical Christian version about how the world works during Basic Training. Needless to say, I never let it affect me. Regular readers know the lack of tolerance I have for proseletyzing and I regularly told people to fuck off or I'd shove their Bible up their ass. After a while, people didn't bother me anymore. Once the Commander of Chaplains (at Lackland AFB, a two-star) told me I should embrace Jesus Christ, that masturbation was a sin, as well as premarital sex. Got a Letter of Reprimand for telling him where to put his Bible too.

I was branded as a troublemaker. Fortunately for me, something like that I wear as a badge of honor. I got a lot of shit jobs, dangerous assignments, and eventually was forced out and into a reserve unit. I never made the connection between that and my religious views (I got into a lot of other trouble), but I'm certain it helped. My answer once, when asked why I wasn't going to church one Sunday, "God and I made a deal, I'd stay out of His way and He'd stay out of mine. It's worked out well for both of us so far", pissed of my CO at 7th Bomb Wing (SAC).

A chaplain at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., who has publicly accused her superiors of using their positions to promote evangelical Christianity among the cadets, says she was fired from an administrative job because of her outspokenness and given orders to ship out to Japan.

An Air Force task force, meanwhile, finished up an investigation at the academy into charges by the chaplain and others that officers there were inappropriately proselytizing the cadets. [Link]

[. . .]

This was the straw that broke the camel's back for me. They're sending this chaplain to Japan now. If I didn't know differently, I'd probably believe the Air Force line that she was being transferred for manning reasons. But I know better. You see, my friend who is an instructor there (an Evangelical Christian) recently got out of orders. This person has been on this tour for close to ten years, far longer than is common and received orders to a posting in the Pentagon. I know the affiliation with the church most of the senior officers attend helped immensely in this person's effort to stay in Colorado Springs.

While I am happy for my friend, in this day and age of 'Stop-Loss' and call-backs the situation is hardly fair. It's time for a purge of the senior leadership at the Air Force Church Academy. Clean 'em all out and replace with officers who can show tolerance toward others' beliefs. This, just like the abuses at Abu Ghraib, is a culture that begins at the top. Trust me, if the officers weren't going along with this (actively or with a wink and a nod), the cadets would not do it on their own. I want my Air Force back.

Update: 10:00:

Reading this over, I think I lost my point. Comes from posting in a blind rage. But my point was, when you told someone to take their Bible and fuck off, word got out and you were left alone. Now, these clowns won't take a 'fuck off' as an answer.

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