Besides resorting to personal attacks on people, Debbie doesn't seem to understand what many of us who served in the military had to put up with when it came to unsolicited proselytizing from Christian fundamentalists. I served 20 years, and, as a Catholic, I got the "you can't be saved" talking points from these folks, both peers and superiors. During my 20 years as an officer, I only had to report or correct fundamentalist Christians for violating the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment of our Constitution. I never experienced these problems with any other religious or non-religious group. The current tactic by fundamentalists in the military is to say their freedom of religion is under attack. The reality is that the military has gone out of its way to ensure members receive religious accommodation. Everyone should know who their respective chaplain is and where their office is located. Those are the right folks and venues for religious conversation until their hearts are content. There is simply no room for it in the professional workplace. The vast majority of cases handled by the MRFF have to do with defending religious and non-religious service members from these blatant violations perpetrated by these fundamentalists. Our military is diverse, like our country. Evangelizing is disruptive and harmful to morale. If the mission of the MRFF was to dismantle religious accommodation, then I would not support MRFF. Furthermore, if having available personnel and facilities to meet the spiritual needs of a person in the military is not enough, that person needs to reconsider their profession. Lastly, I suggest the "Christian" people who are sending threatening messages or praying for harm to happen to the Weinstein Family, take some time to reflect on how Christians should really behave.
Cadets using whiteboards to express their faith, leads me to believe my alma mater is forbidding them from seeing their respective chaplains, from gong to SPIRE, or from going to chapel services. That would indeed trample their right to have their spiritual needs accommodated. Here endeth the sarcasm.
The reality has been and continues to be that there is still defiance from the usual suspects, who feel they have to converts others to their particular brand of Christianity, and I thank MRFF and others for calling them out.
This is exactly why religious views need to stay inside the Chapel. The USAFA Chaplain's Office screwed up by just copying an pasting links, instead of sticking to holiday explanations, as the NOTAM was supposed to do.
When I attended and taught at USAFA, I found the Chaplain's Office to had all the tools and services necessary to accommodate my religious beliefs. I never found it necessary to share my religious view outside of that space.
The lifting of DADT was a great step forward. Those who cannot deal with this need to seriously consider a new career. Promoting ancient, hateful religious views can only destroy esprit de corps.
I really look forward to the day when military ceremonies will no longer have invocations or benedictions.
I take it that as the USAFA Chaplain’s Office prepared it’s NOTAM on various religions, the person in charge of the project just did Google searches and just posted the top links, without reading them. I just did a search on “Judaism”, and the top two results are the Wikipedia entry and the site in question www.jewfaq.org. I further assume the author of the NOTAM did not want to appear to be too lazy, so he/she skipped the Wikipedia, and just chose the one right below, www.jewfaq.org, deeming it an official website on the Jewish religion.
These lazy and careless practices are just additional indicators that USAFA’s Christian fundamentalist-centered arrogance is alive and well. I also noticed on some of the other links, the author went to the BBC, as the Buddhism link indicates. The BBC pages on religion are definitely much better that www.jewfaq.org, but again, they are not official sites of the various religions USAFA is struggling to explain. It seems to me that USAFA’s outreach to religions outside of Christianity is not going to well. Also, where was the Jewish Chaplain when this was prepared? In the case the Jewish Chaplain was in charge of the Jewish section of the NOTAM, I would have to question this person’s credibility.
Furthermore, as a USAFA graduate, I’ve noticed from the time I joined over 20 years ago to the present, many cadets come from a very sheltered small town life. In most cases, this means they have little knowledge of outside customs and traditions. If any person with a limited knowledge on religions outside of Christianity were to read from www.jewfaq.org, they could easily misinterpret its content as official Jewish doctrine. In reality most American Jews have distanced themselves from the misogynistic, homophobic, and racist views of some Old Testament passages ( by the way, commensurate with the attitudes of the time they were written), as have many Christians.
Over the past 18 months, some Christians in the military have been crying foul over the wise decision by the DoD to lift “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” because allegedly it attacks their hateful convictions against homosexuality, which they pull from the same Old Testament passages cited in www.jewfaq.org. This is one of the many reasons we need to keep religion entirely separated from government. If anyone in the military has a problem with Equal Opportunity because of their religious views, they need to seriously reconsider their vocational decision. The military goes out of its way to accommodate religious needs as much as possible, but as institutions like USAFA have demonstrated, many abuse this privilege by pushing their religious views on others during their performing of official duties.
USAFA wants to portray itself as being increasingly sensitive to other religions, but the institution keeps making mistakes. Remember when the Superintendent thought Sikhs went to mosque? In addition, in trying to portray itself as religiously neutral, USAFA has forgotten that there are many cadets and permanent party who do not follow any religions. Freethinking and Atheists organizations have often been excluded from USAFA’s feeble outreach charades.
I look forward to General Welsh’s response to Mr. Weinstein and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, who thankfully will continue to lead the fight to keep the leadership honest.
USAFA is failing to take these conferences seriously. Any religious respect conference should include secular groups, even if they don't practice one of the pre-approved religions. There is still a subtle message sent to our cadets that religious people make for better leaders, which is completely false. I'm yet to see an intellectually and morally honest argument that religiosity makes a person a better leader than a non-believer.
In a heated electoral season, there is still a message, especially from the political right, that non-believers or non-Christian groups are somehow bad. Our new CSAF has been in his post for two months now. He has a rare opportunity to clearly and passionately articulate a message of respect and tolerance for any belief system. The AF is the most vulnerable of the services to dominionist influence because of USAFA's long-standing relationship with local dominionist organizations. Dominionists continue to cry foul, but no one is taking away their religious rights. They just need to learn that they can't push their beliefs on fellow service members.
Mikey Weinstein is correct in bringing up yet another shortcoming from USAFA when it comes to such an important subject.
Come on folks, at least he is very knowledgeable about football!
As someone who has been in the AF for 20+ years, I find it more and more disturbing to see the anti-intellectualism, usually driven by religious fervor, among the certain individuals in the higher ranks. I was at USAFA during a couple of years of his tenure, and noticed he was indifferent and somewhat hostile with respect to our well-established international programs, which were a great way for our future leaders to develop foreign language skills, and most importantly inter-cultural competence. He is guaranteeing that there will be clones of himself in the brass 20 - 30 years down the road.
TT has some serious issues it seems. Getting back to the main point: As a cadet in the early 1990s, I witnessed how the prayer breakfast was always hijacked by the "new lifers". At the time I was too immature to realize the unconstitutionality of such an event. It really took a tragic event - the harassment of Mikey's kids for their Jewish faith eight years ago - for many of us to realize how damaging promoting one religion over another, while in uniform, can be. Religious people in the military have access to the Chaiplains' offices to accommodate their spiritual needs. USAFA also designates times for SPIRE meetings to further help cadets who want to practice and share their faith with other WILLING PARTICIPANTS. This system works. USAFA's leadership has constantly failed to promote religious neutrality, especially by "highly encouraging" cadets and permanent party to go to events like the prayer breakfast. The current system I mentioned does not seem to be enough for them. The only way to maintain a cohesive military force is to separate religion from everyday duty. I've witnessed the problems with favoritism and nepotism at USAFA and the rest of the AF that have occurred as a consequence of past intolerance and disrespect towards members who do not belong to a particular faith. Led by brave individuals like Mikey Weinstein, the MRFF has made tremendous strides raising awareness, and most importantly putting a stop to past practices of favoring one religion over another. Religion is something private, and it needs to be that way in a diverse military.
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