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PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2005 11:57 am 
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The last paragraph is a hoot.

Air Force Cadets See Religious Harassment
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Published: April 20, 2005

Filed at 1:28 a.m. ET

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) -- Less than two years after it was plunged into a rape scandal, the Air Force Academy is scrambling to address complaints that evangelical Christians wield so much influence at the school that anti-Semitism and other forms of religious harassment have become pervasive.

There have been 55 complaints of religious discrimination at the academy in the past four years, including cases in which a Jewish cadet was told the Holocaust was revenge for the death of Jesus and another was called a Christ killer by a fellow cadet.

The 4,300-student school recently started requiring staff members and cadets to take a 50-minute religious-tolerance class.

''There are things that have happened that have been inappropriate. And they have been addressed and resolved,'' said Col. Michael Whittington, the academy's chief chaplain.

More than 90 percent of the cadets identify themselves as Christian. A cadet survey in 2003 found that half had heard religious slurs and jokes, and that many non-Christians believed Christians get special treatment.

''There were people walking up to someone and basically they would get in a conversation and it would end with, `If you don't believe what I believe you are going to hell,''' Vice Commandant Col. Debra Gray said.

Critics of the academy say the sometimes-public endorsement of Christianity by high-ranking staff has contributed to a climate of fear and violates the constitutional separation of church and state at a taxpayer-supported school whose mission is to produce Air Force leaders.

They also say academy leaders are desperate to avoid the sort of uproar that came with the 2003 scandal in which dozens of women said their complaints of sexual assault were ignored.

''They are deliberately trivializing the problem so that we don't have another situation the magnitude of the sex assault scandal. It is inextricably intertwined in every aspect of the academy,'' said Mikey Weinstein of Albuquerque, N.M., a 1977 graduate who has sent two sons to the school. He said the younger, Curtis, has been called a ''filthy Jew'' many times.

The superintendent, Lt. Gen. John Rosa, conceded there was a problem during a recent meeting of the Board of Visitors, the civilian group that oversees the academy.

''The problem is people have been across the line for so many years when you try and come back in bounds, people get offended,'' he said.

The board chairman, former Virginia Gov. James Gilmore, warned Rosa that changing things could prove complicated. He said evangelical Christians ''do not check their religion at the door.''

Other critics point to a series of incidents, including:

--The Air Force is investigating a complaint from an atheist cadet who says the school is ''systematically biased against any cadet that does not overtly espouse Christianity.''

--The official academy newspaper runs a Christmas ad every year praising Jesus and declaring him the only savior. Some 200 academy staff members, including some department heads, signed it. Whittington noted the ad was not published last December.

--The academy commandant, Brig. Gen. Johnny Weida, a born-again Christian, said in a statement to cadets in June 2003 that their first responsibility is to their God. He also strongly endorsed National Prayer Day that year. School spokesman Johnny Whitaker said Weida now runs his messages by several other commanders.

--Some officer commission ceremonies were held at off-campus churches. In a letter dated April 6, Weida said the ceremonies would be held on campus from now on.

Rosa and other academy leaders say some among the large number of Christian cadets -- nearly 2,600 are Protestant, some 1,300 are Roman Catholic, and about 120 are Mormon -- may not realize that evangelism is unwelcome among their fellow students. The corps of cadets also includes 44 Jews, 19 Buddhists and a few Muslims, Hindus and others. There are 15 chaplains and one rabbi.

Rosa himself intervened when Christian cadets began promoting ''The Passion,'' Mel Gibson's movie about the crucifixion of Christ. He told cadets they should not use government e-mail or other facilities to promote their personal agendas.

Two of the nation's most influential evangelical Christian groups, Focus on the Family and New Life Church, are headquartered in nearby Colorado Springs. Tom Minnery, an official at Focus on the Family, disputed claims that evangelical Christians are pushing an agenda at the academy, and complained that ''there is an anti-Christian bigotry developing'' at the school.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2005 6:33 pm 
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--The academy commandant, Brig. Gen. Johnny Weida, a born-again Christian, said in a statement to cadets in June 2003 that their first responsibility is to their God...

...and "their God" (not merely their CO) is commanding them to drop bombs on Iraqis. Why, they're practically priests, for gosh sakes -- just trying to do God's work.

It's amazing how the military and God always share the exact same objectives. Well, *our* military and *our military's* God anyway.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2005 9:53 pm 
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Well, *our* military and *our military's* God anyway.


I wish our God and their God would just duke it out between themselves and stop using us as the proxies.

Ryan

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2005 10:58 pm 
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I'd gladly settle for the men giving the orders to duke it out between themselves. They'd probably love to mix it up...when Bush so courageously said "bring it on," for instance, I could sense his frustration in not being right there on the front lines. Probably the same frustration he suffered every day as an (AWOL) member of the Air Force reserves.

Of course, in any battle, all he'd have to do is throw a few "shock and awe" fastballs and it would be all over.

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"Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance" -- HL Mencken


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2005 9:11 am 
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Good idea. We could also send over that doofus general who was talking about how much fun it was to kill people a few months back.

I'd like to see Don "the army you have not the army you want" Rumsfeld on the front lines, too. Plus all the right-wing pundits who love this war so much.

Ryan

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