Thursday, June 26, 2014

AFA stirs more religion debate

Posted By on Thu, Jun 26, 2014 at 5:30 PM

click to enlarge Air Force Academy Chapel.
  • Air Force Academy Chapel.
The fundamentalist American Family Association has gathered more than 100,000 signatures of those who think the military should be able to practice their religion on duty, or at least not be barred by an Air Force Instruction from declaring their beliefs to anyone and everyone in their military workplaces.

That instruction is under review after a recent incident, reported here first, triggered outrage on both sides of the issue. Rep. Doug Lamborn lashed out at the academy, urging the rules be changed to allow Christians to have "free expression."

Here's a part of the association's news release:
TUPELO, Miss.—On Wednesday, the Air Force Academy was the recipient of thousands of petitions calling for Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson to protect the religious expression of cadets in light of recent acts of discrimination against them.

The Family Research Council and the American Family Association (www.afa.net) gathered more than 105,000 signatures in the petition drives, which came in the wake of an incident earlier this year in which a cadet was pressured to remove a Bible verse he had written on his personal white-board outside his dorm room, after an anti-Christian group claimed offense. The verse was Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me….”

“The very thought that one of our nation’s prestigious service academies would seek to stifle the religious expression of cadets is beyond comprehension,” said AFA President Tim Wildmon. “Our nation was built on liberty, particularly religious liberty; our Constitution enshrines liberty, and our flag symbolizes liberty. The men and women of our military dedicate themselves to defending our nation, upholding our Constitution, and honoring our flag. It’s time for our military to stop surrendering to anti-faith voices by denying cadets the rights and liberties they are willing to fight and die to protect. We urge Lt. Gen. Johnson to take a strong stand for the Constitutional rights and God-given liberties of our armed forces, and particularly of the cadets she leads.”

In March, the anti-Christian Military Religious Freedom Foundation complained to the Air Force Academy that the cadet’s Scripture posting was an offense to other cadets and some faculty members and created a ‘hostile environment,’ with the Foundation’s director, Mikey Weinstein, claiming the verse “massively poured fundamentalist Christian gasoline on an already raging out-of-control conflagration of fundamentalist Christian tyranny, exceptionalism and supremacy at USAFA.”

As Sandy Rios, AFA’s Director of Government Affairs, pointed out, however, it’s a mazing that a Scripture that speaks of self-sacrifice and dying to self could be construed as “tyranny.”
We asked Mikey Weinstein, a 1977 academy grad who founded the MRFF, which is NOT anti-Christian, by the way, to respond to this, so he did, in usual Mikey style, calling the petition signers "blind sheep":
The American Family Assn. (AFA) and the Family Research Council (FRC) yet once again immeasureably disgrace and wound our nation’s beautiful Constitution with the transparently bigoted and ignoble submission of their pitiful petition of fundamentalist Christian tyranny and oppression. They decry and scream like stuck pigs of nonexistent prejudice at the Academy against Chrstians. They lie, they cheat, they steal and they contort the truth as they always do. If they wish, let them gather millions of additional names of religious extremist bullies for their pathetic petition of shame. Indeed, it won’t make a lick of difference at all. As former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor once said, ‘In America, we don’t count heads before enforcing the First Amendment.’ Pursuant to that very same Constitution, it’s contruing Federal and State caselaw and the Pentagon’s own internal regulations, directives and instructions, publicly displaying a sectarian bible verse next to your cadet name, cadet rank and cadet squadron postion, in the busy thoroughfare of military working common areas such as the cadet dorms, is simply unconstitutional and wrong. In fact, it is blatantly illegal irrespective of how many Christian fundamentalist, blind sheep EVER sign any petition from hate groups like the AFA and FRC.
Superintendent Johnson told reporters during a news briefing today that the instruction is under review and she would not comment further.

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