The creation of a “pagan area” under the auspices of the US Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel was highly controversial more than a year ago. Originally, a “dedication” was scheduled in March 2010. It seems the ceremony was delayed more than a year.
USAFA announced it had dedicated the “Cadet Chapel Falcon Circle” last week on May 3rd. As previously discussed, the US military does not make a site “sacred,” so the “dedication” seems to have been more ceremonial or functional in nature.
Interestingly, the article seems to indicate a slight tweak on the original purpose of the outdoor chapel. Originally, USAFA was said to be adding “a worship area for followers of Earth-centered religions.” The new wording was somewhat more careful this year: Read more
US Army Chaplain (Capt) Vincent Hardy was stationed at Bagram, Afghanistan, when a suicide bomber struck a FOB of his unit in mid-April, killing 6 Soldiers. In the Army Times reprint of The Leaf-Chronicle article, Hardy remembers the fallen he knew so well:
Five of the six soldiers killed were from Hardy’s battalion, the 101st Special Troops Battalion. He knew them all and interacted with them regularly…
Two of the Soldiers obviously depended strongly on the Chaplain for their spiritual support:
Sgt. 1st Class Charles Adkins, described by Hardy as a “man of God,” stayed right next to him in the barracks at Gamberi.
He recalled Sgt. Linda Pierre as an especially devout Read more
The Catholic archbishop for the military Chaplaincy, Timothy Broglio, responded to the recent NYT article about “atheist Chaplains” by wondering aloud if such a position would be an oxymoron. Importantly, since atheists can already meet as any other secular group does (like any sports, academic, or other social group), he questioned whether atheists might actually be after a “counter-Chaplaincy” within the Chaplaincy, rather than a positive representation:
“The idea of a ‘chaplaincy’ for atheists seems contradictory,” U.S. Military Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio told CNA. Under present conditions, he said, “it would seem that they could meet and sponsor activities just as many other groups do on installations. Or is the issue here the desire to set up a structure in direct opposition to the chaplaincy?”
He brings up an interesting point. As noted elsewhere, for atheists to meet the intent of the concept of the Chaplaincy, they would essentially need to acknowledge Read more
The Republic of Georgia recently prepared to deploy a Light Infantry Battalion to Afghanistan in support of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
The fairly standard article on the deployment ceremony was accompanied by two interesting photos:
A chaplain from the Republic of Georgia’s 33rd Light Infantry Battalion anointed more than 800 Georgian soldiers at the conclusion Read more
The New York Times has an interesting article titled “Atheists Seek Chaplain Role in the Military.”
Strange as it sounds, groups representing atheists and secular humanists are pushing for the appointment of one of their own to the chaplaincy, hoping to give voice to what they say is a large — and largely underground — population of nonbelievers in the military.
The ironic part is atheists have previously implied Chaplains’ “secular” roles are better filled by people such as psychologists and behavioral health experts — leaving Chaplains to purely “religious” endeavors.
The atheists apparently want an advocate for their organized beliefs, which just sounds strange to say. But Jason Torpy of the MAAF says exactly that: Read more
Over on a sometime-controversial blog at Foreign Policy, Tom Ricks posts an article by Richard Andres on criticisms of the Air Force’s professional military education. Said Andres:
In a recent book chapter, Dan Hughes, a retired Air War College professor, launched an emotionally charged diatribe against the Air War College and Air University of which it is a part…
According to Hughes, the school is run by a group of bottom-tier, anti-intellectual, Christian evangelical, Rush Limbaugh-addicted colonels who have created an institution lacking in basic academic rigor and standards.
Both Hughes and Andres indicate they were Air University professors. For his part, Andres admits there is some credence to Hughes’ general criticisms (“politics and religion aside”). The larger debate focuses on the overall value of the military schools. Andres’ main point is Hughes mischaracterized the bigger struggle ongoing at Air University: that between often liberal-leaning civilian faculty and more conservative-leaning military faculty and students:
Beyond prizing academic rigor and hoping to avoid contact with policy, academics generally share a common professional mindset that is somewhat left of center, dislikes evangelical Christianity, and views the military with distrust.
Most interesting, however is a somewhat chilling story about the intentional targeting of religious beliefs: Read more
The Army Times notes the US Army’s “Soldier 360°” program aimed at “dealing with trauma and rebuilding relationships.” The article clearly connects the program with Eastern “spirituality”:
An Army program has adopted some old Eastern practices to help allay modern post-combat stress…using holistic tactics, including yoga, acupuncture and meditation.
The program ushers noncommissioned officers and spouses through a six-phase, behavior-modifying process called “learn, do, practice, model, teach, and change,”
Interestingly, the program based on Eastern religions, taught by the Army, also has an ‘evangelical’ aspect, as the program Read more
This Easter, celebrate the resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ, and take a moment to remember those who defend our freedoms while deployed around the world. They, too, will celebrate His resurrection — even in small outposts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere. And then they’ll stand up, adjust their gear, and step out on their next mission, always at their Nation’s call.
The early morning sun drifts above the horizon during Easter sunrise services at Camp Liberty, Iraq. (Photo by Sgt. Mark Matthews)