An interesting article written by Chaplain (Capt) Robert Schobert of Goodfellow AFB, Texas, notes his study of the “wiki-holidays” occurring over the next few weeks.
The article includes the increasingly common appeal for care for those who may not feel very “joyful” this time of year, and focuses on the inherent inclusiveness of the military community.
Whether you are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Pagan, Democrat or Republican, you are a vital part of this diverse community. And just like me, you are blessed to be a critical element of this unique American experience of living and working alongside others that are absolutely not just like you, but wish you joy and peace this time of year just the same.
While the article seems fairly current, it has actually been reprinted a few times over the past few years in nearly identical form.
As previously noted, the US Air Force Academy held a “religious respect” conference to work on the “religious tolerance” training program for cadets. According to the official Academy release on the event, the attendees included Christian, Jewish, atheist, pagan, and “interfaith” representatives.
While Jason Torpy did attend, Michael Weinstein pouted that he was not invited to the “propaganda” event. Weinstein, of course, is not a faith group representative as the other participants are; he also didn’t explain why he wanted to be party to a meeting with a school with whom he is “at war.”
Photos of the event, as well as the invited attendees, can be seen at the event website.
Also noted at the local Colorado Springs Gazette.
As noted by an official Air Force Academy news release, cadet members of the USAFA “Freethinkers” group invited the cadet pagan SPIRE group to meet and discuss their beliefs and experiences.
SPIRE members set aside time each week for the religiously diverse cadet population that includes Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Pagans, atheists, agnostics and others to discuss religion, spirituality and philosophy.
While the groups are for the benefit of cadets, like groups of other ideologies, they appear to be facilitated by staff or volunteers. Tech. Sgt. Brandon Longcrier Read more
The Colorado Springs Independent, which previously reported on both Michael Weinstein’s declaration of “war” on the Air Force Academy and his letter to the Secretary of Defense, apparently obtained access to three cadets to discuss the religious climate at USAFA.
The members of the Cadet Interfaith Council had little negative to say: speaking of religious mistreatment, a Jewish cadet says “not much of that goes on these days;” a Buddhist has “not experienced any discrimination due to his faith.” The Protestant of the three agrees.
All agree with a cadet’s statement that
Right now, I think it might be getting blown out of proportion.
(It is worth noting these cadets were likely provided by the Academy for the purpose of the interview. Given the opportunity, Weinstein could likely produce cadets supporting his point of view.)
Superintendent LtGen Michael Gould is also quoted, and the article offers an intriguing look at religious “complaints” over the past two years. Ironically, there Read more
In response to an inquiry, Michael Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation expressed his support for what has been dubbed the “Ground Zero Mosque” in New York City. Notably, he criticized those who oppose the mosque/community center because…their criticism offends “jihadists.” Interestingly, Weinstein did not reserve his invective purely for Christians:
This [opposition to the mosque] is the work of fundamentalist Christians and ultra-extreme, rightwing Jews.
Apparently, the man who believes Christians are planning to exterminate Jews believes “rightwing Jews” are now helping them. The cognitive dissonance continues below.
For those keeping track: Read more
Recent articles have highlighted the moral struggle faced by Christian men and women in the US military. When the US Air Force Academy established an official area for pagan congregation, it aroused a wide variety of emotions, from those who found the pagan belief system repulsive to those who felt anyone should be free to do as they please. Military Christians, too, experienced tension between the tenets of their faith and the dictates of their profession.
Following an article documenting the creation of the Academy pagan area, a commenter highlighted this very conflict (as she intended) when she asked:
That’s great news…It shows a willingness to be accepting of “other” faiths. Don’t you think it’s great news?
Is the creation of a pagan circle at the US Air Force Academy “great news?” There are two distinct perspectives at issue, that of a Christian and that of a member of the military. Ultimately, they form the perspective of a military Christian. Read more
Statements released by Osama bin Laden have validated the fears of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation’s Michael Weinstein, whose organization has repeatedly claimed that associations of Christianity with the US military provide “propaganda” and “recruiting tools” to America’s adversaries, endangering US troops and the mission of the nation. Read more
The US Air Force Academy closed its investigation into the placement of the shape of a cross at a pagan site on the Academy grounds. No new information was apparently determined, nor was any action taken. To their credit, the Colorado Springs Gazette printed the most accurate description so far of the incident, saying
The cross – consisting of two railroad ties propped against a boulder…
Other organizations and individuals had inaccurately implied a ‘large cross’ was ‘made of railroad ties’ and ‘carried to the site’ to be ‘erected in the center’ of the pagan circle. The Gazette left out only the facts the two boards were not connected and were already on the site before the incident occurred.
In noting the end of its investigation, the Air Force refused to characterize the incident as a hate crime: Read more