Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Bible-Thumping at the Air Force Academy

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Reports have circulated for the past several years alleging that the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is overrun with Christian Evangelical staff who actively impose their fundamentalist beliefs on the cadet student body.   That should come as no surprise to anyone who has lived around the city of Colorado Springs, because it is well known for being a hotbed of Christian fundamentalist views and activities.    (Disgraced minister Ted Haggard who was the leader of the National Association of Evangelicals was based in Colorado Springs, and it was home to his wealthy mega-church.  Colorado Springs is also home to James Dobson's Focus on the Family.)

This past week more allegations surfaced regarding the strong influence that Evangelical Christians appear to be exercising over cadets at the Academy.  An anonymous email from one cadet has been picked up and distributed by multiple veterans' groups, civil rights' groups, and news sources.  In that email the unnamed cadet alleges that there is an "underground" group of a hundred or so cadets who must pretend to be rabid Christians in order to get along and maintain standing among their peers.  These young people attend Bible studies at the Academy and keep Christian learning materials in their rooms in order to not be outed as something less than fundamentalist in their beliefs.

A "climate study" was recently conducted at the Air Force Academy to address the long-standing allegations of undue right-wing Christian influence on life at the school.  Unfortunately, the superintendent at the Academy chose not to release the results, opting instead to tell the public that things were fine at his school.    Pressure is now being placed on the military to release that study or conduct a more comprehensive one.

The United States Air Force Academy has a long and proud history.   If the Academy has been co-opted by right-wing religious fanatics, that situation needs to change - and change soon!  The cadets and our country deserve better.  It is well past time for the Air Force Academy to throw open the doors and shutters and  let the light of reason and tolerance shine into its hallowed halls.   The Academy was created to be a first class university, not some two-bit Bible college.

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