US Air Force Academy Hosts Annual Prayer Luncheon

Quietly and without controversy, the US Air Force Academy hosted its annual prayer luncheon last week.

The keynote address came from motivational speaker DJ “Eagle Bear” Vanas, a 1993 USAFA graduate and “enrolled member” of the Odawa Nation, a Native American tribe:

“Our spirituality makes us strong from the inside-out,” he said. “It strengthens and sustains us…

When we practice our spiritual faith, we make better decisions.”

The USAFA article references only Vanas’ “spiritual practices,” without specifying if they are Native American or simply generic spirituality (though his speaking business is focused on a “native” theme). Vanas spoke to the general virtues of faith.

Perhaps in a moment of self-awareness, the article made a point of commenting on the religious environment at USAFA [emphasis added]:

Cadet 1st Class Sarah MacKinnon, president of the Cadet Interfaith Council, said the Academy is a safe and tolerant environment for cadets of any faith.

“Through diversity of thought, we’re a stronger institution,” she said. “As a cadet, I’ve strengthened my faith with the help of others on their journey regardless of their religious beliefs…”

It would be an interesting discussion to hear how one strengthens their faith with the help of those of other faiths.

Still, it would seem the US Air Force Academy is making a pointed effort to publicize its support for military religious freedom, as put on display at the prayer lunch.

Wonder why this event wasn’t as controversial as those in years past?



  • It is an interesting discussion based in part on the premise that a critical mass develops among people of faith. The all-of-us-are-stronger-than-one-of-us idea is especially pronounced at USAFA, where faith practitioners are emboldened to exercise their own religion when practitioners of other religions proudly do the same. Knowing there’s a remnant of the faithful–that I’m not alone–inspires me to practice my own faith boldly. It’s one area where Big Air Force could learn a lot about how to discuss religion as adults from a bunch of otherwise cynical cadets.

    While all roads do not lead to heaven, there are multiple similarities among religions generally. We can explore those similarities while unapologetically clinging to the many obvious differences. In that sense there is much more in common among people of faith–even different faiths–than between the faithful and the non-faithful.

    Which is why religious freedom is good for all. That’s true even when those of the majority faith witness the glaring hypocrisy of how comparatively noncontroversial a prayer breakfast conducted by a Native American spiritualist is in contrast. In this era, at least it’s a start.

  • Jacob,

    I absolutely agree with you when you say that “there is much more in common among people of faith–even different faiths–than between the faithful and the non-faithful.”

    As a Christian, I can assert that a person is either under the federal headship of Adam or Christ. In other words, either a person is captive, subject, and slave to the will of God or the will of the Devil (See Romans 8). This is why I do not affirm the myth of neutrality (i.e., pretended neutral fallacy).

    The only area I would respectfully disagree with you on is your assertion that “…there are multiple similarities among religions generally.” There is nothing similiar to the Christian worldview. Christ our Lord is the only way, and all others lead to destruction.