Christopher Hitchens, author of God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything and co-author of Is Christianity Good for the World with Pastor Douglas Wilson, takes on religion in the US military in his latest article in Vanity Fair, for which is he a contributing writer.
The lead-in to the article demonstrates a set of false assumptions which are never substantiated within the article:
It’s no secret that conservative Christians dominate the US military, but when higher-ups start talking about conversion missions, it’s time to worry.
Hitchens never provides evidence that any ideological belief, never mind conservative Christianity, “dominates” the US military. He also misrepresents Read more
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
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
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
A local paper notes the 50th anniversary of the groundbreaking at the US Air Force Academy. Besides being the central building of worship on the cadet campus, it is also one of the most famous chapels and military structures. It is the number one manmade tourist attraction in Colorado.
A local paper announced the victory of the Demons over their adversaries during US Air Force Academy basic training, which ends soon as the new cadets will begin their academic year.
Much has been made of the apparently “supernatural” terminology sometimes invoked during Basic Cadet Training (BCT) at the US Air Force Academy. Read more
As noted on the local Gazette, Walter Netsch, Jr, designer of the famous and sometimes controversial Air Force Academy cadet chapel, has died.
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.