“Offended” Cadets Need Correction before Commissioning

LtGen Michelle Johnson, Superintendent of the US Air Force Academy, gave some insight into her reaction to cadets who “protested” the removal of a Bible verse by posting verses and quotes of their own:

Since Monday, there’s been a wave of freedom, religious and otherwise, on the 2,000 whiteboards outside cadet dorm rooms.

In response to the online flap that developed over Monday’s posting and erasure, hundreds of cadets took up their pens and posted quotes from the Bible, Talmud, Qu’ran and non-religious sources.

“It seems 20-year-olds have a sense of humor,” Johnson said.

The academy has told cadets to use taste and caution in what they post. The goal, Johnson said, is to have a climate of respect.

Of course, there’s no evidence the first cadet to put up a verse violated standards of “taste and caution,” so its unclear if that will remain a consistent standard.

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council praised the cadets who bravely exercised their faith and their freedom. (Notably, some cadets who joined the protest weren’t even religious — they just apparently perceived injustice.)

Frustrated by the school’s decision to scrub a Bible verse from one of the dorm whiteboards, cadets decided to take matters into their own hands. In a show of defiance, Bible verses started popping up on dry erase boards throughout the dorms – outraging the anti-Christian “tolerance” police at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.

He further asked what many so far have ignored: Why has no one taken the opportunity to provide a “teachable moment” to the cadets who were “uncomfortable” and ultimately caused the verse to come down?

Since when is the standard of what’s constitutional based on what offends someone else? If Scripture frightens these cadets, what will they do in the face of a determined jihadist?

More importantly, what will these future officers do when they see peers, superiors, or subordinates express their religion in the future — when their chain of command won’t scrub it and the law protects it?

How “uncomfortable” will they be when they see an officer wearing a kippa, or a Soldier wearing a turban, or a commander with a Bible on his desk? What will they do when they see a superior with ash on his forehead or a fish emblem on his car? What will they do when a subordinate’s wife visits the office wearing a hijab? What if they see a superior praying before he eats?

Seeing a Bible verse on a whiteboard, particularly where personal inspirational quotes are already allowed, is benign. These future officers need to learn to professionally function and accomplish the mission in an environment where others may hold or express beliefs with which they disagree — and they must learn to respect others’ rights to have and express those beliefs.  By the apparent standards applied recently, an Airman who saw his commander do nothing more than enter a church or mosque could file a complaint because he was “uncomfortable” and unsure that commander would show “impartiality.”

God knows troops of faith have already learned to respect others’ rights to their beliefs, whatever they may be. Perhaps those who are “offended” by faith should, too.

Many people, both in the military chain of command and outside of it, have said or implied that Christians who have religious objections to issues in the current military environment should find another line of work. Perhaps the time has come to say the same to those who cannot function without being “uncomfortable” in a military environment that is respectful and tolerant of religious belief.

To wit, if you cannot accomplish the mission because you’re “uncomfortable” with the beliefs of others, perhaps its time to “vote with your feet.”