Mormon Chaplain Serves USAFA Cadets
An Air Force Academy press release notes the service of Chaplain (Capt) Zebulon Beck, one of only nine active duty Air Force Mormon Chaplains, who will minister to “more than 100 Mormon cadets.”
An interesting part of the article is the reference to the “mandatory two-year mission” of Mormons:
As is the case with other Mormons of similar age, many cadets interrupt their studies for the mandatory two-year mission. Those who do so often come back changed people.
“What we find is that cadets who go on their mission and come back tend to do better than they did before,” Chaplain Beck said. “Many of them work in places like Eastern Europe. They come back fluent in a second language and with enhanced ability for leadership. In addition, they’re more spiritually in tune with their faith.”
It is not uncommon for Mormon cadets to enter with one class, attend for two years, then take two years off for their mission. They return as 2nd Class Cadets (Juniors) and graduate two years later than their original date. Policies have varied over the years and USAFA has occasionally been criticized for granting the Mormons “special” treatment.
On the other hand, Beck has an admirable description of the Chaplain’s role and the Air Force’s efforts to support its members:
“One of the other reasons that I’m here is that the Air Force places great value on religious diversity and making sure the cadets’ religious needs are met,” Chaplain Beck said. “The chapel staff is really a model of American religious freedom.”
It doesn’t seem the “model of American religious freedom” is going to sway Michael Weinstein from his “war” against religious freedom.