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The Air Force has released the results of an investigation into allegations of religious intolerance at the Air Force Academy. Here's the headline over the AP story: Panel: Air Force Academy Fails on Faith.
Even though the news coverage has certainly eliminated the need for anyone to actually read the panel's report, right-wing dominated Fox News has the nerve to include the actual document (pdf) with their story.
And here's an interesting quote from said document:
The Academy is aggressively engaged in dealing with an issue that has been the subject of rigorous debate for throughout the Nation?s history. The Superintendent responded to some well-publicized events early in his tenure and, upon finding evidence of some concern about religious bias in anonymous surveys he conducted, began a much broader effort to incorporate the importance of religious respect in the Academy?s character development program. This continuing effort to nurture a climate of respect for the diversity of beliefs at the Academy has received the support of the USAFA community, including many who have expressed concern. The team found that the events that have been reported in the media framed the discussions and were cited repeatedly by individuals expressing concern about the religious climate. The team also researched the background behind the widely reported ?55 complaints,? in reality a collection of observations and events reported by about thirteen people, and purported to have taken place over a four-year period. Throughout the assessment, the methodology used by the Review Group, using both individual interviews and focus groups, did not yield empirical data regarding specific events, but facilitated important discussions that aided the team in assessing the overall climate.I stated yesterday that this report would satisfy few. I was wrong - it gave something to everyone. So we now present, for your enjoyment, Mudville's news quiz for today.
See if you can match the headlines below with the web sites that carried them over their stories on this report. The answers are: The Minneapolis Star Tribune, The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, The Denver Post, and CNN.
Here are the headlines. Click for answers:
How did you score?
Meanwhile, there's not much new to report on this story:
OKLAHOMA CITY (BP)--After six years in court, a former Navy chaplain with Southern Baptist ties hopes to soon obtain a favorable ruling that will allow his lawsuit against the military to move closer to trial.Guess he should have joined the Air Force. But we expect Americans United for Separation of Church and State to have a statement calling for a thorough investigation any time now. It's the only way justice could possibly be served.
Ron Wilkins, who alleges the Navy forced him to retire in 1995 because of his evangelical beliefs, said his aim is to provide more opportunities for young sailors to obtain Bible teaching.
?We?re not talking about technicalities,? said Wilkins, a former Southern Baptist pastor who, in 1977, was endorsed by the Bible Churches to become a Navy chaplain.
?We?re talking about 25 years that the Navy has established Roman Catholic as the favored religion and ecumenical religion as the next favored,? Wilkins said. ?The Navy has no defense for what they?re doing.?
The Mpls Star Tribune was a no-brainer. Those of us stuck here in Minnesota have nothing good to say about that rag. It's no shock that their headline is one of the suggestive ones of wrong doing.Posted by Holly Aho at June 23, 2005 06:54 PM
If I recall correctly, the Wilkins case was where he was objecting to being asked to send Navy personnel to attend services at a local Church. Mind you his disagreement wasn't that they were forcing Navy seamen to attend church in the first place, but rather it was because it was a church that also welcomed gays and lesbians into its congregation. Given that it was during Fleet Week in San Francisco, I don't know how you would find a church that wouldn't have gay or lesbian people in it but he was determined to find one.
And considering that the vast majority of Americans are Protestant or affiliated, I think it pretty unlikely that Roman Catholics dominate the military chaplaincies. I would be more likely to believe in a reverse case. Or of discrimination toward members of LDS.
The Air Force case is highlighted because of the political activism of the Colorado Springs Evangelical community. That particular brand of Evangelical Christianity has a great deal of political clout in DC at the moment. And they are not shy about exercising that clout as we have seen over the last year, such as regarding Terry Schiavo, Arlen Spector, etc. It's not that surprising that some people are over-reacting to a few incidents and that the media is focusing in on it. This is just what happens when religion and politics are mixed together. Expect a lot more of the same.
The thing to remember is that in actual fact, atheists and true secularists make up an extremely tiny minority in this country. These complaints are not Secular vs. Faith. These are disagreements between different groups of Believers, not between those who believe in God and those who don't. Have not the majority of complaints been given by religious individuals rather than atheists?
Last I'd heard, American soldiers were not Soldiers for God, they were soldiers for the Republic, and arguably in combat, just for each other. While I think that military chaplains are a good thing to have, not everybody agrees. Even among the Founding Fathers of our country there was disagreement about this. James Madison for one did not believe that it was a good idea for the military or Congress to have chaplains. His concern was not the removal of Religion from the public sphere, but rather it's protection.Posted by Patrick at June 23, 2005 09:08 PM
Chaplain Wilkins' single-handed battle with the Navy Chaplain Corps is spot-on. The chaplain services of all three services are controlled by a "political" alliance of Roman Catholic and mainline (read: LIBERAL) Protestant Chaplains, with the result that the smaller group evangelical chaplains are largely given the short end of the stick. Case in point, in the latest Air Force Academy religion flap, the chaplain who generated the most heat in the charges being levied was Chaplain, Major, Warren Watties, a former enlisted Marine, and representing a smaller, charismatic group, who was accused of (imagine!) telling cadets in a sermon that failure to believe in Christ might land someone in the fires of hell. (Why, we can't have chaplains preaching actual Bible truths to our precious little USAFA cadets, can we?) I have met Chaplain Watties (years ago), and he is one of the finest human beings I have ever met. For him to be attacked, even falsely, or indirectly (even without actually being named), as he was by the Yale Divinity school team whose report largely fueled this entire phony USAFA religion controversy is, to my thinking, another example of what the Bible calls
"calling good evil and evil good." No one is saying that Roman Catholics and mainline Protestant groups should not have their chaplains.
What I am saying is that it is time that the chaplain services removed the "glass ceiling" that so often prevents evangelical chaplains from moving up the ranks of the chaplain services at a rate proportional to their numbers. No one minds evangelical soldiers and Marines putting their butts on the line in the military as enlisted grunts, but somehow people seem to really get upset when their chaplains have an increased influence in the chaplain services. This is the height of injustice, and Chaplain Wilkins (and other chaplains fighting the same kind of legal battles) are right to make their cause known. If you believe in justice, you should lend Chaplain Wilkins your moral support.