Military chaplains should be prepared to serve the religious and spiritual needs of a diverse community of troops, but one evangelical Christian Air Force chaplain in Ohio apparently has a problem supporting the rights of people of different faiths.
Ten years ago, Americans United began looking into allegations of improper promotion of fundamentalist Christianity at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.
Former U.S. Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), who spent 22 years in the U.S. Army before being forced into retirement amid a scandal, claims anyone who wants to serve in the armed forces but won’t say the words “so help me God” as part of the enlistment oath isn’t a real American.
“I proudly and honorably took the oath of office as a commissioned officer several times and also as a Member of Congress,” West said on his website in September. “That’s what Americans do.”
In a shift toward inclusivity, the Air Force Academy has announced that cadets will no longer be required to recite “So help me God” as part of the school’s Honor Oath. The decision followed a complaint by Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.
When U.S. military leaders announced that openly gay men and women would be permitted to service in the armed forces, Religious Right leaders went ballistic.
They asserted that the move would destroy military cohesion and leave our fighting force less able to do the job. Of course, that didn’t actually happen. One year after the change, military leaders reported that the new policy was working out fine.
By Noah Fitzgerel
We have yet another reason to appreciate, admire and learn from those serving in uniform. Retiring Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, chief of staff of the Air Force, earlier this month issued an unequivocal mandate ensuring the separation of church and state. His action reminds us of the progress the military continues to make in ensuring religious freedom for our men and women in uniform.
It seems there is no limit to the minute, inane issues that get the Religious Right all hot and bothered.
On Feb. 6, 36 members of Congress -- including Congressional Prayer Caucus Co-chair Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) -- sent a letter to Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz in protest of the removal of "God" from the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO) logo.
At a luncheon today, Americans United will present awards to two people who have worked hard to preserve religious freedom for all.
Corwyn Schultz will receive AU’s Religious Liberty Award. As a high school senior last year, Corwyn had the courage to stand up to official, coercive forms of prayer at his graduation ceremony. A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order striking down the prayers, but unfortunately a higher court overturned it. The case, which is sponsored by Americans United, is ongoing.
Two months ago, I wrote a post about religious tolerance being on the upswing at the Air Force Academy. The Associated Press had reported that when Pagan cadets sought a place to worship, Academy officials worked with them to create an outdoor stone circle.
Some people are having a difficult time dealing with that.
Four years ago, the situation regarding religious freedom at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs could only be described as grim.
An air of evangelical Christianity permeated the facility. Cadets were encouraged to see films like "The Passion of the Christ." During a training session for cadets, an Aca demy chaplain urged evangelicals to convert their classmates to their brand of Christianity. He told cadets that those not "born again will burn in the fires of hell." Non-Christian cadets complained of harassment and intolerance.