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April 20, 2005

Exactly who is being discriminated against?

Outside the Beltway has a somewhat confusing post about an AP story that is even more confusing.

First I'll dissect the AP story:

Less than two years after it was plunged into a rape scandal, the Air Force Academy is scrambling to address complaints that evangelical Christians wield so much influence at the school that anti-Semitism and other forms of religious harassment have become pervasive.

There have been 55 complaints of religious discrimination at the academy in the past four years, including cases in which a Jewish cadet was told the Holocaust was revenge for the death of Jesus and another was called a Christ killer by a fellow cadet.

The 4,300-student school recently started requiring staff members and cadets to take a 50-minute religious-tolerance class.

Let's see 4,300 students yet only 55 complaints in 4 years? And the complaints they give examples of don't necessarily point to a Christian influence. The idiocy about the Holocaust and calling Jews “Christ killers” sounds more like neo-Nazi crap more than anything I've ever heard any Christian denomination teach. In fact I'd say you'd have a really hard time finding very many Christians that wouldn't be offended by such remarks.

 More than 90 percent of the cadets identify themselves as Christian. A cadet survey in 2003 found that half had heard religious slurs and jokes, and that many non-Christians believed Christians get special treatment.

"There were people walking up to someone and basically they would get in a conversation and it would end with, 'If you don't believe what I believe, you are going to hell,'" Vice Commandant Col. Debra Gray said.

Critics of the academy say the sometimes-public endorsement of Christianity by high-ranking staff has contributed to a climate of fear and violates the constitutional separation of church and state at a taxpayer-supported school whose mission is to produce Air Force leaders.

The article is terribly disjointed. I skipped one paragraph between the two quotes above, but even then the article jumps illogically from anti-Semitism to the percent of students claiming to be Christian, leaving the reader with the assumption that the two are related. As for Col. Gray's comment, that is what Christians (Moslems and many Jews) believe, live with it. You guys believe we evolved from pond scum, a concept we find just as revolting.

Why would “endorsing” (translation: acknowledging) Christianity contributed to a climate of “fear” unless there exists an irrational bigotry against Christianity in the minds of those claiming it does?

Here's a list of “incidences” which “critics” claim illustrate the problem:

•The Air Force is investigating a complaint from an atheist cadet who says the school is "systematically biased against any cadet that does not overtly espouse Christianity."

Find an Atheist that doesn't complain about that.

•The official academy newspaper runs a Christmas ad every year praising Jesus and declaring him the only savior. Some 200 academy staff members, including some department heads, signed it. Whittington noted the ad was not published last December.

Gasp, those Christians are allowed to celebrate a holiday!! Or at least they were until, apparently, they were censored. Sounds to me like the Atheists are the ones abusing power.

•The academy commandant, Brig. Gen. Johnny Weida, a born-again Christian, said in a statement to cadets in June 2003 that their first responsibility is to their God. He also strongly endorsed National Prayer Day that year. School spokesman Johnny Whitaker said Weida now runs his messages by several other commanders.

Key word there — “their God”. I have a feeling most of those whiners will shut up real quick once they hit the sands of Iraq and actually have to face the reality of what a soldier's trained to do. Why is it the Christians are censored, and those who censor them continue to complain that the Christians still have too much power. How about showing a little tolerance for other people's faith, huh.

•Some officer commission ceremonies were held at off-campus churches. In a letter dated April 6, Weida said the ceremonies would be held on campus from now on.

I vote in a Church, as does most of America. Many government High Schools hold graduation ceremonies in local churches because they can accommodate the audience of parents, family members and students, better than the school's own facilities can. Why is this a problem? Why is it that even after the Atheists succeed in infringing upon the rights of the Christians, they still whine that the Christians have too much power?

James Joyner's comments on the story seem to be even more disjointed. I'm guessing that he's assumed the claims of harassment are true, and offering his assessment of why. I think he misses the point entirely. The story demonstrates the lengths some Atheists will go in trying to push their own agenda on others. But the leadership of the academies would include officers who have experienced combat. A situation that tends to expose the triviality of insisting that others keep their faith silent, and stress the importance of ones own grasp of eternity and the meaning of life.

Posted by Danny Carlton at April 20, 2005 10:33 AM

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