Tag Archives: chapel

Air Force Academy Religious Climate “Improving”

An Associated Press article repeated at the local Gazette and other sources says of the US Air Force Academy:

Religious tolerance has improved dramatically since allegations five years ago that evangelical Christians harassed cadets who didn’t share their faith.

The article even quotes critic Michael Weinstein, who sued the Air Force for incidents at the Academy, agreeing with the assessment:

This is the first time we feel positive about things there.

While the initial complaints were that the Air Force was foisting Christianity on its cadets, the Air Force investigation instead determined that the situation was far simpler: cadets of minority faiths did not feel appropriately accommodated as was permissible under military regulations.  Thus, the Air Force addressed Read more

US Military Chapel Celebrates 25 Years

It is true that military chapels are supposed to be, in some respects, “religiously neutral.”  The objective of the regulations governing chapels is that any faith group be able to use them for their spiritual needs.  As chapel space is often limited, many times a single building, or even a single room, must meet the needs of all faith groups.

The military academies have long been an exception.  The main floor of the US Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel, which turned 50 just a few months ago, is overtly Christian, with a huge, sculpted metal cross hanging from the ceiling.  Rather than having “shared spaces,” the USAFA Chapel Read more

Buddhist Military Chapel “Represents Tolerance”

National Public Radio (NPR) recently reported that the Buddhist Chapel at the Air Force Academy, a room in the lower floors of the iconic Cadet Chapel, “represents tolerance” of beliefs at within the military institution.

The Buddhist hall within the Chapel has actually been in use for years (it was even renovated in 2007) so it is unclear why NPR is covering the story now.  However, they do provide several quotes that indicate the religious climate at the Air Force Academy has “improved” from Read more

USNA Chapel Ceremony Revisited

More than a week after the initial melee, the New York Times picked up the story on the Naval Academy chapel practice of dipping the US flag at the altar (previously noted here).

There is nothing significantly new in the article, though it does seem to indicate that the initial hysteria over the incident (generated primarily by Weinstein’s Military Religious Freedom Foundation) was misplaced.  (For example, no one “disobeyed a direct order.”)

Interestingly, columnists are quick to reference the US flag code, which says the flag should never be dipped.  However, the US flag code is a guide, not a punitive regulation.  Previous attempts to make it punitive were struck down by the Supreme Court as unConstitutional.  Thus, while someone may disagree with the practice, it is not prohibited.

NYT reference courtesy of the Religion Clause, and recently updated on ADF.

Naval Academy Chapel Ceremony Derided

As covered on Military.com, some people are upset that a Protestant chapel service ritual at the US Naval Academy includes “dipping” the American and Brigade flags at the altar.

In particular, Michael Weinstein was upset that the Academy Superintendent, Vice Admiral Jeffrey Fowler, had issued an order that the ceremony stop, only to later allow it to continue.  In criticizing the reversal, Weinstein said, in typical fashion,

Vice Admiral Fowler…wins the ‘Fundamentalist Christian Most Intimidated Award’ for 2008…Such profound duplicity and cowardice fatally disgraces the U.S. Naval Academy…

The implication in the article is that the Vice Admiral had his order overruled.  (Given that the article also says the Admiral would refuse to return if not “obeyed,” which is an unusual thing for an officer giving an order to say, it is possible that an “order” was not given, but that he expressed a preference that is being misreported.)

It might be somewhat ironic that Weinstein, who founded the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), would back a military officer who attempted to dictate the rituals of a religious chapel service.  That very issue–that a state actor would direct a subordinate’s religious observance–was probably what led to the reversal, as such an order would be unConstitutional.

Also reported on Reasoned Audacity.

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