Recent actions by the U.S. Air Force Academy could appear as if commanders are on a mission to rid the institution of Christian influence, but a nearby pastor says the actions are the result of intense pressure from one man.
The most recent flap involved a lunchtime announcement and subsequent email encouraging cadets to participate in Operation Christmas Child, an annual program of Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse relief organization.
“Please consider spending some of your valuable time and money to love on a kid around the world,” the email said.
Commanders initially said there was nothing wrong with the academy’s involvement in the program, but when pressed further, they apologized and assigned the project to the academy’s chaplains who can legally recruit for religious endeavors, The Colorado Springs Gazette reported.
Before that, it was an ethics class on just war theory that was halted because complaints were raised about Scripture verses being used in the course. In February, an annual prayer luncheon drew a lawsuit and caused commanders to clarify that the event was sponsored by chaplains and not the academy.
In November, the Los Angeles Times carried this headline: “Air Force Academy adapts to pagans, druids, witches and Wiccans.”
“In the still of a cold November evening, a small gathering of pagans, led by two witches, begins preparations for the coming winter solstice,” the article began. “But these are not just any pagans, and this is not just any setting. They are future officers of the United States Air Force practicing their faith in the basement of the Air Force Academy’s cadet chapel.”
It turns out this year the academy dedicated an $80,000 outdoor “Stonehenge-like” worship center, as the newspaper put it, for cadets with “Earth-based” religions.
“We’re here to accommodate all religions, period,” Chaplain Maj. Darren Duncan said, noting the current cadet class includes 11 Muslims, 16 Buddhists, 10 Hindus and three pagans as well as 43 self-identified atheists.
Not only does the academy now provide worship space for all, it requires all cadets to complete religious respect training.
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SOURCE: Baptist Press