I seldom read the front page of the local rag. I usually start with editorial page, then work my way backwards to the front page, then move on to the local section, business, and the magazine. The comics come last. I have long believed in saving the best for last.
A Jewish father of two Air Force Academy cadets sued the Air Force yesterday, contending that senior officers and cadets illegally imposed Christianity on others at the school.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court by Mikey Weinstein, an academy graduate and outspoken critic of the school’s handling of religion.
Over the last decade or more, the suit alleges, academy leaders have fostered an environment of religious intolerance at the Colorado school, in violation of the First Amendment.
One of Weinstein’s sons graduated from the academy last year; another is a junior there. Both have been subjected to anti-Semitic slurs from evangelical Christian cadets, he said.
If you go read the story, you’ll see that this suit does not ask for money. It asks that “the Air Force . . . bar its members, including chaplains, from evangelizing and proselytizing.”
Of course, these allegations are old news. You can learn more about what’s transpired at these links:
The U.S. Air Force said Tuesday it will appoint a task force to investigate allegations of religious intolerance at the Air Force Academy.
Here’s the result of the Air Force’s investigation of Brig Gen Johnny A. Weida, the Commandant of Cadets of the Air Force Academy.
And here’s the report to the Air Force Academy’s Board of Visitors on the overall complaints.
(Aside–the investigations found that the problem was not as severe as reported in the media, but that it was a real problem.)
Visualize these situations on a smaller, younger scale–in elementary school, junior high, high school.
My friends, this is the extreme, but it is the reason that the Founders had the foresight to say that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . .”
Now there are those who say that the courts have banned prayer in public schools.
Anyone is free to pray in a public school.
What no one is free to do is to impose prayer on anyone else. And all the court cases on record involve the State or its agents (and the public school staff, as employees of the government, are agents of the government) from imposing prayer on students. This is what the proponents of school prayer leave out.
Pause for a moment and consider, what would be the reaction from the proponents of school prayer if the prayer selected were a prayer to Shiva, the Kadish, the Apostle’s Creed as recited in the Roman Catholic Church, or bowing towards Mecca and praying to Allah?
I suspect that outrage would be a mild characterization of their reaction. It is clear that the intent of those who make a political issue of prayer in schools is to promote “the establishment of religion,” their religion, a particular brand of Protestant Christianity.
And kids are not stupid. They recognize, just as clearly as those who promote such things recognize, that “Moments of Silence” and other attempts to dress up the notion in fancy dress clothes are but an excuse for prayer.
And, at its worst, this impulse leads to the type of harassment that some significant percentage of non-Christian students have encountered at the Air Force Academy.
But wait! There is more. The Air Force Academy has been in the news for more than religious harassment. More than any other military academy, it has been in hot water for sexual harassment and misconduct.
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Of 579 female Air Force Academy cadets surveyed by the Department of Defense, 43 — or 7.4 percent — reported they were victims of rape or attempted rape, according to a draft report of the survey results.
In all, 109 cadets indicated they had been victims of some type of sexual assault in their time at the academy. Of those, 31 respondents were seniors, 15 of whom reported they were victims of rape or attempted rape.
A Pentagon official Thursday confirmed the authenticity of the document.
More female cadets at the Air Force Academy consider sexual harassment a problem than their counterparts at the other service academies, according to a congressional report released Friday.
The General Accounting Office report gives the first comparison of female cadets’ opinions on sexual harassment at the three academies since a sexual assault scandal broke at the Air Force Academy in January.
The survey was ordered before the scandal broke.
The Air Force in general does not have the same problem with allegations of sexual assault that its academy does, according to an agency spokesman.
“There is a cultural problem at the [Air Force] academy,” said Lt. Col. Dewey Ford, an Air Force spokesman. But Ford said allegations from Air Force Academy cadets of rape and sexual assaults that have publicly emerged over the last few months are confined to the school and are not an issue within the Air Force as a whole.
(Follow the links to read the full stories.)
So what the heck do reports of sexual harassment have to do with reports of religious harassment?
(I’ll get to it)
Some may argue that the cases of religious harassment were an outgrowth of good motives (leading the Lost to the Truth) gone bad.
None may argue that for sexual harassment or rape.
I argue that a culture that condones or ignores harassment for any motive
implicity explicitly condones harassment for any purpose.
And those who would set others apart for their differences–by, for example, mandating Protestant prayer and thereby marking anyone who is not a Protestant Christian as different–implicitly creat an environment for harassment.
The public schools serve a mix of creeds. And some persons with no creeds. Tilting the schools towards one creed, any particular creed, will ultimately lead to harassment of the sort we have seen documented at the Air Force Academy.
One of my professors used to point out that history is full of irony. I was raised in the Southern Baptist Church (I’m still very much a Baptist, though I currently attend a Methodist Church, for the Southern Baptist Convention has been taken over by Hypocrites and Pharisees, but that’s another story). The fellow who founded the church I attended when I was growing up, Elijah Baker, spent a lot of time in jail.
His crime? He was a Baptist, and the Virginia Colony had an Established Church, the Church of England.
Yet those who claim his heritage wish to create a new Established Church.
And betray the memory of Elijah Baker and others like him, and likewise trespass upon the work of the Founders of this nation.
They would use prayer to prey upon upon others.
Fie upon them.