Let's just ignore "Ender" since he seems to love the attention.
The leadership at my alma mater continues to drag its feet and defy official guidance from the top. I admire General Schwartz, and would love to know what is holding him back from replacing USAFA's leaders, who have done nothing but undermine him, essentially biding their time until his term ends. I'm sure Secretary Panetta would give him his full support. I mentioned it in another post, but before I PCSd from USAFA, I should have talked to Colonel Bruno about my experiences as a Catholic cadet and officer. I was in a squadron where the AOC and his cadet stooges would not shut up about being "born again", which must be similar to the experience poor Winston underwent in Room 101 in the literary classic "1984" at the hands of O'Brien.
It's baffling that Colonel Bruno is spewing fundamentalist propaganda from people who think he is going to hell for the "sin" of being Catholic. Colonel Bruno also used some condescending language at the 2011 Graduation Ceremony by saying something along the lines of "Lord, we stand before you as believers and non-believers." What an utter lack of disrespect for the many of our recent graduates who choose not to practice religion or not to believe in the Judeo-Christian deities!
Brigadier General Born: Ma'am, why are you even a Catholic? Were you promised a longer tenure compared to your predecessors in exchange for staying quiet?
My beloved USAFA is in serious trouble. One cadet out of 4,000 having to break the Honor Code to get the dominionists off their back should be a huge red flag for General Schwartz. The fact is that hundreds of cadets are lying so they can be left in peace. This is a very troubling precedent for our institution!
Let me close by highlighting some of the rhetoric that is coming out of the GOP presidential hopefuls. Most candidates are pandering to religious leaders who think Jews should be interned in camps, or that Mitt Romney is not qualified for office because of his faith. If those of us in the majority remain silent about the dominionist agenda in our government, we will be in a fascist theocracy before we know it asking ourselves, "What in the hell happened to our great nation?"
From a proud 40 year-old graduate of USAFA.
Colonel Hughes, your military record is very admirable http://militarytimes.com/citations-medals-…
Unfortunately, my praise can’t go beyond that.
Having lived and worked overseas, I’ve personally witnessed how government leaders have had to look to the clergy to get a nod of approval for certain initiatives. One of the many reasons I love and continue to serve my country is the fact that, despite the agenda of civilian groups like “The Family” and their military counterparts in OCF et al, we do not answer to any religious authorities prior to any decision by our leaders. I also love the fact that, at least according to a document known as the Constitution of the United States, we have the right to practice or not practice any religion plus the fact the government is not allowed to promote one religion over another.
The agenda you and other dominionists have is to recreate the entire military in your image, essentially converting it into a machine ready to, under the orders of dominionist civilians in the chain of command, fulfill your idea of biblical prophecy – to bring about the “end of times” sooner than later through irresponsible, repugnant and unprecedented violent actions against those around the world you deem as “forces of the anti-Christ”.
Your description of MRFF couldn’t be any further from the truth. The majority of us are Catholics and Protestants. I don’t know how to further explain our mission, but if I were talking to a young student, I would say: 1) We want to ensure you have the right to practice your faith at the designated times and places without anyone forbidding your from doing it. 2) If you do not practice any religion, we want to make sure your rights are respected and that none of your comrades-in-arms coerces you into joining their particular religious brand, and we want to crush the favoritism those who decide to follow these unlawful orders get. Is that simple enough for you? If a military member who happens to be a Christian Fundamentalist were to be mistreated for belonging to that religion, MRFF would go out of its way to protect that person’s rights.
As a cadet, I was subjected by unwanted proselytizing from my Air Officer Commander, a major, and his cadet stooges. I was told that since I was a Catholic, I was not a Christian, to which I laughed and said, “Last time I checked, we are among the early Christians.” For some reason, they didn’t see the humor in that, and they stopped being “nice” after that. As I mentioned in my first comment to this article, I was in survival mode as a cadet, and did not recognize the gravity of this back in the early 1990s. As a Catholic, I’m proud of the fact that I recognize the low points in my church’s past and current history, and I want that to never be forgotten. Dominionists like you, on the other hand, think everything you do is infallible, and for some reason you have been able to tie the positive, peaceful message of Jesus of Nazareth, into your duties to conduct war, which he allegedly despised. You are in the same category as any other group that has used violence in the name of religion.
I hope you read the problems at USAFA I listed that happened this year alone. I’ll add another one: my Department Head telling new instructor that they will be amazed by the “wondrous spirit” that drives our cadets. Apparently, this is code that only evangelicals understand, and he was lazy by borrowing it from a George W. Bush, speech, and we know the former President’s record on not understanding the Wall of Separation. We are not chasing ghosts. USAFA has not gotten rid of the problem because of leadership that is part of the very same problem and/or leadership that is too weak to do anything about it.
New cadets are eager to please, and fail to see how their integrity can be broken by bowing to pressure to join the same religion as their cadet and officer leaders. Many simply don't have the maturity to understand.
Allow me to add a hypothetical situation: I meet a fellow officer at a flying unit. That person is extremely amicable, but can’t seem to shut up about their religion. I politely decline their invitation to their Bible study, and our relationship becomes tense as a result. Later that person and I are flying a two-ship formation as part of a combat mission, and I get in trouble. Can I trust that person to be a wingman and watch my six, if deep inside they feel I can’t be saved, or they are spiteful because I did not toe their line? I can add a similar metaphor with an Army foxhole scenario.
One of my former cadets, unfortunately now an active duty officer, told me “Christians” are majority at USAFA, so they should be able to share their beliefs. I knew he was a lost cause, but if understand the demographics, about 33% of the military is made up of dominionists. Doesn’t that make us in the 67% who actually follow the Practice and Establishment Clauses, regardless of our spiritual differences, the majority? Does history have enough examples of the terrible consequences that result in extremists vocal minorities coming to power as a result of indifference by the majority?
At the end of the day, this is not a liberal vs. conservative argument, especially since we’re apolitical, at least on paper. It is simply fulfilling our promise to protect and defend the Constitution. We can’t cherry pick it, the way you do with the scriptures.
Those of us who graduated from USAFA and bring up the cronyism, favoritism, bullying, cover-ups, etc. stemming from the dominionits, who have penetrated every echelon of our institution, are always dismissed as anti-military, disloyal, etc. These arguments are morally and intellectually dishonest. Here are my two questions:
USAFA 89, why the anonymity? I suggest you do a bit more homework before making throw away comments like "Colorado College professors who blog." This CC professor served a decade on the USAFA faculty, won every top award, and then was ousted because he was one of the very few career military officers who had the courage to speak openly to his chain of command. You don't know who he is because he tried to affect change from the inside, and endured the consequences for it. Let's move beyond the ad hominem attacks and stick to the ideas.
As far as “Ender”, “Christian Fighter Pilot”, Major Jonathan C. Dowty (’99), or whatever you want to call yourself, you contribute to the defiance I mentioned earlier. You love to attack every time we try to make our alma mater a better place by exposing the problems. WE have also given USAFA credit, when thought they had corrected something. By the way, according to some of your classmates, you are infamous for unsolicited proselytizing at USAFA and on active duty. I’ve also had the displeasure of meeting for of your fellow minions from the Class of 1999. Barely a few minutes after a friendly introduction, they are already talking about how great “Chrisitians” are. It’s like arguing with a drunk, so I won’t give you any further attention.
I would love to disclose all my personal details, but the some of the people who attack us are the same ones leaving threats of violence or even death against great folks like Mikey. It would be so much better to have a friendly dialogue, but it’s hard to find civility among our critics.
I had the privilege of sitting with a few senior leaders who are on our side, and their message is simple: If you think your duty is to evangelize, and you fell that duty is above the oath of allegiance, you need to find another profession that is not related to service in our Armed Forces.
Having just read your article, I am convinced more than ever the leadership at my beloved USAFA is only dedicated to fluffy, empty statements when it comes to dealing with the need to tolerate and respect beliefs different than those of the dominionist “Christians” that hijacked our institution over twenty years ago. The consequences have been devastating to the lives of hundreds and hundreds of outstanding cadets, officers, enlisted, and civilians.
The fact that the USAFA leadership sees anyone, who wants to uphold the establishment and practice clauses of the First Amendment, which is part of the Constitution we swore or affirmed to defend, as trying to undermine the institution’s goals is ludicrous and cowardly.
As a cadet in the early 1990s, I saw blatant evangelization by the officer and cadet minions of the New Life Church and other dominionist organizations. Back then I was too immature too understand the seriousness of the problem, and I just wanted to survive the rigors of USAFA. On active duty I have run into dominionists in every assignment, and I finally woke up when I read what the Weinstein family and other fine individuals had to put up with.
I made it a personal goal to teach at USAFA because of my love for the institution and the inspiration a handful of great instructors gave me. I came in knowing there were still serious problems thanks to the valiant efforts of Mikey Weinstein and MRFF. In my first month alone, I noticed during the New Instructor Orientation that they breezed through a couple of PowerPoint slides taking about religious tolerance, notice I didn’t mention respect. The briefer was just an action officer, instead of one of the three generals. During that orientation, one of my new colleagues started talking about her religion, and I told her that needed to be kept out of the work environment, and that the cadets have designated times (SPIRE) and places (the chapel) where they can practice and share their faith. She replied that it was her duty to spread the gospel.
My Department Head is a dedicated member of the New Life Church and only pretended to care about improving the religious climate at USAFA. During my first few months at USAFA, his wife asked my wife what she thought about Colorado Springs at USAFA so far. My wife replied that she was happy, but was appalled at how people can’t keep their religion to themselves. Needless to say, things got awkward very quickly, and I’m sure the Colonel’s wife mentioned my wife’s comments to him. The same zealous instructor I dealt with during my first week, invited my wife to a get together at her house, which wound up being a trap to come to Bible Study.
My Department Head’s blatant dishonesty manifested itself earlier this year. He ostensibly was very motivated to get us all to participate in a very important Dean of Faculty climate survey that would give us an opportunity to note the good, the bad, and the ugly about how things were going. He promised to address every single concern at the next department meeting. I took the survey, which had places for open comments. The survey did not do a very good job protecting our identity because you could narrow things down by rank, position, etc. I decided to point out two black and white incidents that could create a perception of favoritism and unprofessional behavior among our young cadets: 1) An instructor from the New Life Church constantly having cadets from that same church in her office to talk about nothing but religion. 2) That same instructor and another instructor from her church bashing our President for his alleged lack of religion. These two incidents occurred in a corridor in my department, where there is a lot of cadet traffic. What did cadets think when they heard this? I would definitely think they would pick up the favoritism aspect.
When the time came for the Colonel to share the result of the survey, he prefaced his comments with, “I have to share something very disturbing.” My initial thought was relief that he was about to share my concerns and those of others. Instead, this spineless senior officer had the temerity to say that religious discrimination was not a problem, but “reverse religious discrimination” was growing. He specified by saying that many evangelicals in the Faculty felt they were being attacked and ridiculed constantly. Really, Colonel? This was one of the most pathetic acts of desperation I have seen from the very people that started the very problem we are trying to fix. I never heard anyone attack the dominionists. They have a right to believe and practice their faith with the simple condition that they do not do it in an unsolicited manner or use their rank and power to impose it in the work environment. I will also add that in the hallways of my department I heard a tenured member say “Fucking Mikey Weinstein is at it again” when MRFF complained about that poor excuse for an investigation also known as “The Gamble Report. Again, this was not only unprofessional; it could also have been overheard by cadets who look to us to be the example.
My last few months at USAFA also witnessed the farcical National Character and Leadership Symposium”, where General Gould’s wife, a retired Colonel, and Chad Hennings, a graduate who known for his football skills shoved their religion down the throats of the attendees. Again, most of us are mature enough to call that out, but cadets are generally idealistic, impressionable and not mature enough to understand. On my last week of official activities at USAFA, I had the honor of attending the commissioning ceremony of one of my outstanding cadets, only to be outraged by the way in which the program for the ceremony was written. The entire oath was written in the program with no option to “affirm” and the words “SO HELP ME GOD” being the only ones in all capital letters. The ceremony was held at the home and in the presence of Brigadier General Clark, the same General who sent an email essentially telling cadets to disregard a September 2010 comment at USAFA from our Chief of Staff, General Schwartz, where he aptly had stated “Service is our faith”, as he was trying to enforce the need to fix the persistent religious problems at USAFA. How do you think the cadets who do not believe in God or would prefer not to “swear” felt during what is supposed to be a very special moment for them?
My four years at the USFA faculty where thoroughly enjoyable given the fact that I worked with outstanding colleagues and cadets, notice I did not say leaders. Two of our three generals are more committed to their religion than they are to their duty. The third, Brigadier General Born, is simply a limp leader, who only tells her people what they want to hear. She lacks to moral courage to speak up. As for Chaplain Bruno, a Catholic priest, I should have sat down with him to tell him how my AOC and his cronies told me I could not be saved for belonging to a cult like the Catholic Church, and how many of the dominionists at USFA have used the word “Great Whore” to describe a church that is part of my culture. Father Bruno also made the mistake on Graduation Day 2011 of having an invocation stating something along the lines of "being gathered before God as believers and non-believers." Why not get rid of invocations once and for all?
With VERY FEW EXCEPTIONS, my impression of Department Heads and the three generals at USAFA is that they are comfortable in their positions and prefer not to make any noise, even if it’s the right thing to do.
General Schwartz: Sir, if you decide to replace these three individuals, it would only be part of the solution. The full solution is to replace them with people dedicated to upholding our Core Values, which includes having the guts to protect and respect the rights of our members to practice or not practice any faith, and most importantly not declaring an official religion at USAFA.
The current leadership at USAFA practices a gross combination of passive defiance and foot-dragging when it comes to enforcing religious tolerance and respect. Talking to cadets in evangelical code or using the “reverse religious discrimination” card are simply delaying tactics.
Most cadets are just like me 20 years ago: they want to survive a very arduous four-year journey and have little time, and too much fear of retribution, to report problems. I applaud those cadets and permanent party members who have stood up. Above all, I continuously hail Mikey and the MRFF for putting their credibility and personal safety on the line to make sure we are heard!
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