Thursday, May 19, 2005

MORE LUNACY FROM COLORADO SPRINGS

You may or may not realize this, but your public tax dollars are being used to support a virtual theocracy at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. As difficult as it may be to comprehend, this once proud institution has been taken over by born again, Protestant, evangelical "Christians," who are using the power of the federal government along with your hard earned dollars to impose a very narrow, bigotted interpretation of the King James Bible on non-Christians and non-believers alike.


How bad is it?


Let me put it this way. This was the same institution which, until recently, had been struggling with approximately 150 allegations of sexual harassment. Indeed, the issue began to gain national attention in 2004, when Kristin Leslie, an ordained Methodist minister and assistant professor in pastoral care and counseling at the Yale Divinity School, led a group of six Yale graduate students to Colorado springs to watch basic training at the Academy. Initially intending to investigate the climate which had led to the allegations of sexual harassment, Leslie and the students discovered another problem as they watched some of the Academy's chaplains in action. What they found was revolting to say the least.

Instead of creating an atmosphere of religious tolerance which is necessary for cohesion among the cadets (and for that matter among soldiers in general), the Protestant, evangelical chaplains had crossed the fine line between spiritual counseling and every day ministry and were engaging in outright proselytization, creating division among the cadets and not a required spirit of cohesion.

How bad was it? Consider the following examples.

*Twelve years ago, when James Dobson opened his campus in Colorado Springs, the Wings of Blue parachute team parachuted out of an Air Force airplane onto Dobson's campus: not to protect the country; not to provide an act of national defense; but to present Dobson with the proverbial "Keys to Heaven." Indeed, Focus on the Family's James Dobson, and Ted Haggard's New Life Chruch seem to be exerting an unhealthy and disproportionate amount of influence over the academy as a whole.


*In March 2004 fliers advertising a showing of Mel Gibson's anti-semitic The Passion of Christ were distributed throughout the Academy, even in the mess hall.

*Senior Cadets allegedly harass and harangue their inferiors in matters regarding religion. Jewish cadets were allegedly called "Christ killers" or "------- Jews."


*In at least two cases highly qualified individuals were discouraged from attending the academy after they learned about the climate of bigotry and intolerance that the Radical Christian Right has brought to the institution as a whole.

*Professors have allegedly introduced themselves to their classes with off color lines such as "Welcome, to proselytizing 101. My Name is Major John Doe. We're going to have a great time this semester. I'm a born again Christian and I hope you will be too by the end of the semester."

*Christians who haven't been "born again" are informed that they will be burn and hell.

*Cadets are encouraged to evangelzie (proselytize) their bunk mates.

*During high rope classes Protestant, evangelical cadets frequently encouraged their fellow cadets by telling them that Jesus would get them through it.

*A 90 minute RSPV (Respecting Spiritual Values of all People) video was created to counter the increasing climate of bigotry and intolerance. Part of the video discussed and demonstrated the religious beliefs and practices of non-Christians to introduce the cadets to different religious beliefs and to create an atmosphere of understanding and tolerance. Incredibly the video was cut down to 50 minutes and the non-Christian religious issues were removed and replaced with material from Mel Gibson. To make matters worse, a Protestant evengelical chaplain had the audacity to complain why the original 90 minute version hadn't shown Christians winning.

*In November 2004, the academy football coach, Fisher DeBerry placed a banner in the atheltic department which read: "I am a Christian, first and last. I am a member of team Jesus Christ." Apparently, the Banner comes from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and reads in its entirity: I am a Christian first and last; I am created in the likeness of God Almight to bring him glory; I am a member of team Jesus; I wear the colors of the cross; I am a competitor now and forever; I am made to strive, to strain, to stretch, and to succeed in the arena of competition;I am a Christian competitor and as such, I face my challenger with the face of Jesus Christ.

*
The Air Force Academy has its own installation publication, "Academy Spirit." Shortly before the Christmas holiday, the back page of the publication featured a full page ad which read as follows: "We the undersigned are here to state that the only real hope for mankind is Jesus Christ. If you'd like to talk about Jesus, come bu and talk to one of us." This appeared in large letters and below it young cadets found the names of sixteen academic department heads, nine permanent professors, the (then) current dean, the present dean, the (then) current vice dean, the director of the athletic department, the above-mentioned football coach, and 250 other Academy leaders and their spouses. No cadets were listed but the ad did include divissive, New Testament passages, which non-Christians and non-believers found offensive.

*Of equal interest was a now infamous Brown Bag Lunch. In January 2004 the event was advertized through fliers which were posted up at key locations throughout the academy. Included was a message which read "This is an official Air Force Academy Event. Do Not Take Down this flier." The theme of this particular Brown Bag Lunch, was, "WHY WE CANNOT LET YOU HAVE YOUR GOD WHILE WE HAVE OURS."

* Fliers advertizing an official Academy RSVP program (Respecting Spiritual Values of all People) again, included fliers which warned readers not to take down the flier. The theme for this particular program was: "DANGERS AND WARNING SIGNS TO THE FOLLOWERS OF JESUS: PLURALITY AND SECULARISM."


*When 48-year-old Captain Melinda Morton (A Lutheran Minister with degrees in Divinity and Law, and herself an Academy Chaplain) spoke out against the abuse which was being inflicted by the Protetsant Evangelicals, she was relieved of her position and informed that she would be transferred to Okinawa in July 2004.

Why is that a problem?

It’s a problem because the mission of a military academy is to create intelligent, dependable, and honorable soldiers who will know how to conduct themselves during a time of war—not to create mindless theocrats to please the religious whims and delusions of the evangelical fanatics in the surrounding community. Moreover, events such as these do not take place in a vacuum. Imbecility like this takes place because there has been a breakdown in authority and leadership. And by leadership I do not mean the Academy chaplains, although they are certainly a part of the problem. No, I mean the chain of command—from the Powers that be at the Academy itself right on up to the Commander and Chief in Washington. At some point someone should have stepped in and put an end to this nonsense before it became a part of the Academy’s culture. Instead, the lunatics were allowed to run the asylum. The Chaplains and the command structure at this academy seem to have lost sight of the fact that their prime directive is to create a cohesive fighting force—not to offend and humiliate cadets of differing religious beliefs because the prevailing culture in Colorado Springs is one of pseudo-Christian intolerance.

Moreover, there seems to be a dangerous blending of religious fervor and official government power here. This may come as a shock and a revelation to the so called Christians in Colorado Springs, but it is not the job of the Federal government, nor of the United States Military to promote Protestant fundamentalism as the official religious faith of the United States Air Force. Contrary to the likes of Dobson and Haggard, the American military has one mission and one mission only—to protect the United States—not to spend tax payer dollars on the conversion of non-Christians and non-believers. That is a blending of religion and federal government which, as we have just seen is too dangerous to go unchecked.

In a sane universe—not the one that exists in Colorado Springs—the Chaplains who crossed the line between pastoral care and every day ministry into proselytizing and harassment would be removed from their positions and Captain Melinda Morton would be returned to her position to restore order and sanity to the Air Force Academy. And if that or something similar doesn’t happen, then I would suggest that the United States government should shut that evangelical pop stand down and move the academy to a better neighborhood--preferably one that is far removed from Dobson, Haggard, and their evangelical street fighters as is humanly possible. .













14 comments:

Abraham S. said...

It is a crying shame that more people do not understand how anti-semitic the fundamentalist community has always been. Sadly, they have become even more so in the past 20 or so years. They claim to be such good friends of Israel and of the Jewish people but they are only friendly in so far as they think Jesus will return in the final days to destroy Israel and the Jewish people. It saddens me to see how conservatvive Jews have allied themselves with Conservative Christians who would destroy us in a heartbeat if they were given half a chance.

Abraham S. said...

I must be geting forgetful. Incidents of anti-semitism in the Armed Forces are especially disturbing. I had been raised to believe that young American soldiers should be respected. After treating many of them for Post Traumatic Streess Disorder I could only pity Vietnam Vets. But I cannot and will not respect nor pity anti-semites. Not now. Now ever. Enough is enough. There are limits to how much a man can be asked to accept in the name of respect. If the chain of command in Colorado has broken down to the point where cadets are using language like Brandon described, then something has to be done. Something has obviously gone wrong.

Snave said...

That is tragic stuff... it's bad enough having fundamentalist religion enjoying such undue influence in our government, but to see it taking over the military as well... very, very sad.

halcyon67 said...

You are right Abraham. I think that Republicans are guilty of their anti-Semitism, and they make up for it by supporting Israel. These fundamentalists are messed up man, seriously, they are.

ben said...

I hope you don't mind my commenting despite the fact that I haven't yet taken the time to read the post it's attached to, but your the only other person in blogdom besides me who listed "You'll Find Out" as a favorite movie and I wanted to say hey -- I love that show! I also love the title of your blog. Rock on. :)

halcyon67 said...

Hey Ben, Fight Club is on Wednesday night at 8 EST on FX. What can I say, I think Edward Norton is cute.

ben said...

"Fight Club" rocks my face off. Ed Norton, huh? Even with Brad Pitt right there next to him?

Abraham S. said...

Hello Ben. I was just curious. Are you talking about an old movie featuring Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, and Peter Lorre? Just incase there's more than one move titled YOU'LL FIND OUT.

ben said...

Yeah, with Kaye Kyser (sp?) I love it! "Bad Humor Man" -- wonderful!

Abraham S. said...

You've hit the jackpot here Ben! I introduced Advocate 1 to that movie nearly ten years ago when it was running as a late night movie on the local FOX affiliate out of Milwaukee. Advocate1 then introduced it to Brandon six years later when the boy moved here from New York. Our VHS off the air copies are old and the sound isn't all that good, but we LOVE THAT movie. (By the way--has it ever been released on VHS of DVD?) Unlike Advocate1 and Brandon, however, I had the pleasure of seing it on the big screen when it was released around 1940. It looks good on a small screen, but it was a wonder to behold on the big screen. The costumes were wonderful, the sets are out of this world, and it was fun watching Bela Lugosi eat up the scenes. Modern film reviewers say that bandleader Kay Kayser doesn't make an interesting hero, but they forget that it was a comedy/musical drama. In my humble opinion he did just fine! It was an ensemble piece as well. It mixed all of those elements very nicely. The seance scenes are a real hoot, and it was such a pleasure to see Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, and Peter Lorre on the screen together. The songs have always been underestimated, the ladies are a feast to look at, and it works as a parody of mysteries and ghost stories as well. You have good taste Ben!

ben said...

I've not been able to find it on VHS or DVD either one. I check Amazon every month or so, but don't have much hope. I'm wearing out my old taped-off-the-television copy.

I envy you your opportunity to see it on the big screen -- had to be fabulous. How big a deal was Kay Kayser? I'd never heard of him until I stumbled onto "You'll Find Out." Dude was funny.

Abraham S. said...

Kay Kyser wasn't quite as big as Glen Miller or Artie Shaw, but he had a respectable following, definitely one of the quality acts to come along during the 40s. In some ways he had what they used to call a "sweet sound," smooth use of sax and clarinets, but he could get a little edgy too. I'm sure most of his material has been re-issued on CD. I'm sure if you do a search you might find some of his material on CD. In fact I'm sure THE BEST OF KAY KYSER AND HIS ORCHESTRA is available on Amazon.com for $21.99. Regretably most of my Kay Kyser 78s were lost and I never got around to replacing them on LP, musch less CD. Aside from the few in the movie, I'd be hard pressed to remember too many of his songs.

Ryan M Scott said...

The Passion of the Christ was in no way anti-semitic. Did any anti-semitic violence happen because of this movie? No, not any.

Daniel said...

I think Jews are in a better position to judge what is or is not antisemitic than a bunch of reactionary Catholics.