Wednesday, May 4, 2005

The Wild Blue Yonder

From CNN:

The U.S. Air Force said Tuesday it will appoint a task force to investigate allegations of religious intolerance at the Air Force Academy.

Among the items to be reviewed will be Air Force policy and guidance concerning religious respect and tolerance at the academy, said acting Secretary of the Air Force Michael Dominguez.

Some 55 complaints of religious discrimination have been filed going back to 2001, prompting school officials to require that all 9,000 cadets and faculty and staff members take a 50-minute course on religious sensitivity, academy officials said.

In addition, a report last week by a Washington-based religious liberty group accused cadets and staff members of creating a climate that discriminated against non-Christians at the academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

[…]

Among the allegations are that cadets are frequently pressured to attend chapel and take religious instruction, particularly in the evangelical Christian faith; that prayer is a part of mandatory events at the academy; and that in at least one case a teacher ordered students to pray before beginning their final examination.

The report said it found that non-Christian cadets are subjected to “proselytization or religious harassment” by more senior cadets; and that cadets of other religions are subject to discrimination, such as being denied passes off-campus to attend religious services.

[…]

Complaints ranging from anti-Semitic slurs to teachers preaching in class were mounting with the school’s chaplain last summer, according to school officials.

In one case, students promoted the Mel Gibson movie “Passion of the Christ” by plastering hundreds of movie posters in the cafeteria.

Students also used their school e-mail accounts to promote the movie, prompting the superintendent of the school, Lt. Gen. John Rosa, to clarify that students could not use government e-mail to promote their religion.

In another instance, the commandant of the academy, Brig. Gen. Johnny Weida, a born-again-Christian, drew fire from at least one student who said the general put God in front of the Constitution in a speech to students.

[…]

The investigation follows a sexual assault scandal that rocked the academy in 2003.

Kinda makes you wonder what they’re teaching out there in Colorado Springs: first sex, now evangelism. Maybe if they spent more time learning to, y’know, like, fly airplanes and run the Air Force?