The Colorado Springs Gazette reports that Michael Weinstein has been invited to the US Air Force Academy’s 2010 National Character and Leadership Symposium occurring on February 18th and 19th. According to the article, he was invited by USAFA Superintendent LtGen Mike Gould:
[Gould] said he believes Weinstein and his organization have received a “bad rap” from some outside observers.
“He’s not anti-religious, anti-Christian or anti-anything,” Gould said. “He’s pro-respect. From my perspective, I’d like to give him the opportunity to make those points.”
Gould’s characterization of Weinstein (which is the second time he has complimented him) is perplexing. Gould himself has been the target of Jeff Sharlet, a proxy for the MRFF who has worked with MRFF researcher Chris Rodda. While Gould may feel he can take the wind from Weinstein’s sails by making him an ally, he may do so at the cost of his own credibility.
When asked to characterize his speech, a “pro-respect” speaker would have described his upcoming presentation as
“Your personal rights do not supersede the Constitutional rights of others.”
That’s a message that is fitting for such an audience. Instead, in the same Gazette article, the not “anti-Christian or anti-anything” Weinstein characterized his message this way: Read more…
Categories: Government and Religion Church and State, Constitution, Government, jeff sharlet, Jewish, mike gould, mikey weinstein, Military, MRFF, Religion, USAFA
The US Air Force Academy cadet chapel is expanding to the outdoors. Along with its Christian, Jewish, Islamic, and Buddhist chapel areas, the cadet chapel will now officially include a “pagan circle” located on a hill just above the chapel grounds.
The Academy pagan group is led by USAF TSgt Brandon Longcrier, an NCO who works in the astronautics lab within the academic faculty. Longcrier was effusive in his praise of the Academy and the Chaplains in their support for his efforts, which included pagan rituals for Basic Cadet trainees over the summer.
“There really haven’t been any obstacles for the new circle,” he said. “The chaplain’s office has been 100-percent supportive.”
According to Longcrier, the pagans meet during each Monday night (chapel-sponsored SPIRE meets that night).
It would appear that those who claim the US military is officially “Christian” are losing any vestiges of evidence to support their claim.
The Commandant of the Marine Corps has said that the Marines’ “amphibious readiness may be suffering” after years of fighting on land. In short, the wars that they are fighting now may be detracting from the tactics and training that the Marines may require to fight a future conflict.
The same is true for the Air Force. One of the hardest things to do as a fighter pilot Read more…
The body of the instructor pilot of the T-34C that crashed in Louisiana has been recovered. Lt Wermers was reportedly found near the sunk wreckage in the lake.
Trijicon, the now-infamous maker of high quality gun sights, has been accused of illegally “proselytizing” for adding Bible references to the weapon sights it provided to the US military. The initial accusation has already been discussed, as has Trijicon’s voluntary offer to remove the inscriptions.
The term proselytize carries a negative stigma and is frequently misused, as it has been in this case. An astute letter to the editor at the Stars and Stripes notes that it would likely take more than 6 characters “to convert” someone from or to a faith, as the definition of proselytize indicates.
Still, the accusations of “conversion by Bible reference” have been largely based on the presence of New Testament references to Jesus Christ on Trijicon’s sights. However, not a single major news outlet asked why Trijicon selected the specific verses they did. It would appear most, if not all, made the assumption that Trijicon was picking “Jesus verses” for the ineptly worded purpose of “proselytizing”–an assessment supported by news organizations generally paraphrasing only the “Jesus” part of the relevant verses, as well as the popularity of the inaccurate and perjorative term “Jesus rifle” that resulted. However, an elementary web search reveals that is not the case. If one considers all of the verses that Trijicon has selected, it puts their “intent” in a whole new light. Read more…
Categories: Government and Religion army, Bible, Church and State, Constitution, evangelism, Government, Jewish, Military, nidal malik hasan, Religion, trijicon
A New York paper covers the story of First Lt. Marjana Mair Bidwell [updated link], a US Army intelligence officer and wife of another Army officer. She “worshipped as a Muslim for 18 years,” but converted to Christianity while in college–which was the US Military Academy at West Point.
When I left Islam during college, I considered myself to have a Christian mindset because I related to a lot of the teachings. I was never baptized, though I did attend church out of curiosity.
Apparently, she began learning about Catholicism because her husband is Catholic.
I did not start with the intent of converting to Catholicism. It was just to learn more about my husband’s religion. I didn’t choose Catholicism, it chose me. Halfway through the classes, I realized that the Catholic Church is very straightforward and that there’s something very moving about the Eucharist. That was the turning point for me.
The classes to which she is referring are the religious education classes taught by the Chaplain Read more…
Categories: Government and Religion army, Catholic, Chaplain, Church and State, evangelism, general order number one, Iraq, Islam, marjana mair bidwell, Military, Religion, tyson wood, west point
The Cadet Wing Commander at the US Air Force Academy is the top military ranking cadet over all cadets. The current semester’s commander, Cadet 1st Class Andrew VanTimmeren, has an article in the base paper that reveals an interesting history:
Cadet 1st Class Andrew VanTimmeren…almost didn’t stay past his second day of Basic Cadet Training.
Cadet VanTimmeren, then a basic cadet, was ready to pack it in and head home until a chaplain challenged him that if he left then, he would accomplish nothing.
He seems to say his style has Read more…
The US Navy has indicated that the instructor pilot from the crashed T-34C training aircraft, Lt. Clinton Wermers, is now presumed dead. The student was rescued the night of the crash and has not yet been identified. Initial reports had indicated that both pilots were holding on to the wreckage before it sank.
A comment left on the CNN article on this story indicated that Wermers was a married father of two, and was expecting a third child.
The T-34C is a Navy primary training aircraft used to teach new student pilots. The two-seat, single engine aircraft does not have ejection seats, but requires aircrew to manually bail out in emergencies. The T-34C is slated to be replaced by the T-6A Texan II.
The Jewish Welfare Board’s Jewish Chaplains Council has organized an effort called “Torahs for Our Troops,” with the intent of providing Jewish servicemembers with the religious materials they require for their spiritual needs:
[Jewish] chaplains have asked [the] JWB Jewish Chaplains Council to provide them with small, lightweight but fully kosher Torah scrolls to accompany them from site to site, as they move around ships and the combat theater…For Jews, writing or helping to write a Torah is an important mitzvah. JWB is giving people the opportunity to fulfill this religious obligation by contributing toward the completion of these new Torahs, as well as a way to thank those men and women who serve in the armed forces…
As noted many times on this site, obtaining spiritual resources for servicemembers in theatre and around the world can be challenging, despite the seemingly constant call and supply of ‘care packages.’ The JWB/JCC move is an admirable effort to help military Chaplains provide for the needs of their troops. This not only provides moral support for our troops as they are deployed in defense of our country; it also ensures US soldiers’ rights to religious free exercise regardless of their location.
Despite the positive attempts by the JWB and Jewish Chaplains to support Jewish members of the US military, their efforts are not without potential controversy Read more…
A Navy T-34 has crashed while on a training mission in Louisiana. The initial headline was “One Dead, One Missing” from the two-man crew, though the article itself contradicted the headline and said one pilot had been rescued, and another was missing. Initial reports were that the plane crash landed in the lake, with both pilots clinging to the plane before it sank.
Trijicon, the maker of the gun sight that has a Bible reference on it, has volunteered to remove the references and cease marking future sights to be used by the US and foreign governments. It will also provide free kits to remove the markings from those sights that have already been deployed. The company issued a press release that was picked up by Fox, CNN, and other news organizations.
The offer to pre-empt an official call for their removal, while unexpected, is actually an excellent public relations decision both from a business and faith perspective. It avoids a “confrontation” over contracts and religious controversy, and it permits Trijicon to be viewed as both forthright and amenable to its customer, even if it does not have to be. While some Christians in similar situations may dig their heels in, there is no moral imperative that requires Trijicon to refuse to accede to the feelings of its customer. Their offer alleviates the concerns of the military and diffuses the public scandal.
For its part, the stern government reaction (as noted by General Petraeus, at least) undermines those who have claimed this was an unConstitutional collusion Read more…
Missionary Aviation Fellowship (see Christian Aviation Links) has dispatched one of its new Kodiak aircraft to assist with its in-place team in Haiti. The Kodiaks are unique aircraft that specifically meet the needs of the MAF to fly into remote and rough fields with a significant cargo. The MAF has four of the aircraft; the three others are already flying in other remote locations.
The MAF has long had a presence in Haiti, and that persistence has paid off in the current relief efforts. The US Air Force, which currently controls the Port-au-Prince airport, has been sending relief aircraft to the MAF hangar, where the MAF has been assisting with cargo offloads and customs clearance.
The Kodiak will join three other missionary aircraft that have already begun flying missions to distribute aid around the devastated country, as well as returning to Port-au-Prince with foreign nationals who want to evacuate through the airport.
While evangelism is one of the goals of the MAF, right now it is aptly serving as the “hands and feet” of service that are required to assist a people in great physical need.
A significant milestone specific to the fighter pilot is attending the centrifuge, a dastardly little machine made famous by its amusement park portrayals in various movies. The centrifuge is not nearly as fun to actually experience.
Much as the movies show, pilots are seat-belted into a cubicle that simulates a cockpit on the end of a long arm that spins at amazing speeds, compressing the pilots under increased gravity (G) forces.
A person sitting or standing experiences 1 G, or a force equal to gravity. At 9 Gs (the maximum modern fighters are designed to experience), a 200 pound person feels as though they weight 1,800 pounds. Though significant, the increased “weight” is bearable.
The more challenging aspect of G forces is that the outward forces cause a pilot’s blood to pool in his legs and feet. The potential result is a lack of sufficient blood to the brain which causes a blackout under G, called a “G-induced Loss of Consciousness,” or G-LOC (pronounced Gee-Lock). Aerospace physiologists do an excellent job of teaching the proper techniques and the Air Force provides anti-g equipment to wear in the form of a chap-like “g-suit.”
All fighter pilots-in-training go through the centrifuge twice. The first Read more…
Campus Crusade for Christ (see links) recently hosted a large-scale event near Fort Campbell (which straddles the state line between Kentucky and Tennessee) to provide resources to help Soldiers and the local community come to grips with the realities and challenges of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The seminar was led by Maj Gen (Ret) Bob Dees, who the article notes is the former commander of the 3rd BCT and the current executive director of CCC.
One person who presented his story of PTSD described the ability of the church to support Soldiers and their families:
“Church can provide compassion, comfort and understanding,” said Stephen Dorner, who along with his wife Karen was one of three couples who provided first-hand tales of fighting through combat trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder.
CCC has been unfairly criticized, going back before 2007, for its work Read more…
A local church has a unique ministry for the soldiers departing for war from Fort Hood:
All soldiers deployed from Fort Hood are asked before heading overseas whether they would like someone to pray for them, through arrangements Pray FAST (“Pray For A Soldier Team”) coordinator Cecil Wolfe made through proper channels with the support of the chaplains. Those who request prayer fill out cards with their personal information and prayer requests, and the information is forwarded to [Skyline Baptist Church] prayer warriors.
Cecil Wolfe retired from a 30-year career in the Army.
Apparently, Skyline’s ministry has resonated:
[The] desire for prayer has spread, with as many as 85 percent of all soldiers deployed from Fort Hood now requesting a prayer partner.
As reported here last year, a church in Del Rio, Texas, has a similar objective. Operation M’Brace provides metal bracelets with the names of military members, which are worn as a reminder to those who pray for them.