This incident has been so mis-reported that it was initially just ignored; however, when General Gould published a statement agreeing that this incident has been “sensationalized,” he gave credence to the view that this situation is being grossly mischaracterized, and that people are inappropriately using it for their personal advancement. An analysis thus follows…
Despite the positive hullabaloo over the US Air Force Academy pagan circle, Michael Weinstein’s Military Religious Freedom Foundation has now denounced the placement of a cross at the site, an act that occurred before the recent positive press reports. Though the incident took place several weeks ago, the MRFF appeared to time the press release to counter the recent spate of “good news” about religious tolerance at USAFA.
For the record, it should go without saying that Read more
As US forces continue to draw down their equipment and leave Iraq, there are some unique items that troops are having to deal with.
As bases were built and initial combat conducted, a variety of memorials began to surface as units looked for ways to remember the fallen. Some bases have T-barriers painted with murals, and others have entire walls covered with the names of those who paid the ultimate price at their nation’s call.
PFC Oscar Martinez is one such Marine. He was killed in a rocket attack on Camp Al Taqaddum in Iraq in 2004. His unit made a 3 foot tall aluminum cross and placed it on the base in his memory–nearly six years ago.
USMC Photo (Cpl Bobbie Curtis)
Now that bases are closing and being turned over to the Iraqis, Read more
Many US military members have taken advantage of their unique access to Biblical history while they have been deployed to Iraq. A recent US Army article reports on the visit by some US Soldiers to a traditional resting place of Abraham. As with some other visits, a proactive Chaplain helped the Soldiers understand the history of the location.
[Chaplain] Capt. Michael T. Lanigan…has studied the Bible and the history of the site.
“Abraham’s oasis was one of the few stopping points that … according to the oral tradition of the Bedouins, was where Abraham and his family stopped before going on to Canaan, which is Jerusalem, the promised land, where God had called him,” said Lanigan…
The Soldiers recognize Read more
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
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.
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
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
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