Foreign Policy: US Military Christians Targeted

Over on a sometime-controversial blog at Foreign Policy, Tom Ricks posts an article by Richard Andres on criticisms of the Air Force’s professional military education.  Said Andres:

In a recent book chapter, Dan Hughes, a retired Air War College professor, launched an emotionally charged diatribe against the Air War College and Air University of which it is a part…

According to Hughes, the school is run by a group of bottom-tier, anti-intellectual, Christian evangelical, Rush Limbaugh-addicted colonels who have created an institution lacking in basic academic rigor and standards.

Both Hughes and Andres indicate they were Air University professors.  For his part, Andres admits there is some credence to Hughes’ general criticisms (“politics and religion aside”).  The larger debate focuses on the overall value of the military schools.  Andres’ main point is Hughes mischaracterized the bigger struggle ongoing at Air University:  that between often liberal-leaning civilian faculty and more conservative-leaning military faculty and students:

Beyond prizing academic rigor and hoping to avoid contact with policy, academics generally share a common professional mindset that is somewhat left of center, dislikes evangelical Christianity, and views the military with distrust.

Most interesting, however is a somewhat chilling story about the intentional targeting of religious beliefs: 

The military-versus-academic war is most visceral where it touches on religion and politics. One of the things Hughes described in his article is the large number of right-leaning evangelical Christians in the student body. Some academics take this as a personal affront and retaliate.

In 2002, a colleague bragged to me that he had used a particular tactic to identify the evangelicals in his seminar and then penalized each of them half a letter on their class grade.

At boards to select officers to send to civilian graduate schools for PhDs, some members of the civilian leadership regularly argued that the university should downgrade applications from evangelical Christians since their religious views were incompatible with academe.

Funny thing is, if you listen to Michael Weinstein, it’s the Christians who not only have favored status, but are also colluding to take over the world.  Given the examples of faculty at military institutions Andres mentions, it would seem Weinstein’s conspiracy theories about Christian coups may be somewhat overstated.

Of course, Weinstein has his own allies on the faculties of military education institutions, so he probably already knows that…