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What in God's Name Is Going on at the Air Force Academy?

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There is the curious episode of the recent attempt by evangelical Christians to take over the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. The Air Force Academy is a government institution on the model of West Point and Annapolis, sustained by taxpayers’ money and accountable to the Department of Defense. Yet for the last four years evangelicals have created a pervasive atmosphere of intolerable religious harassment and discrimination.

The second in command, a born-again general, propagated his faith through speeches and memoranda. Chaplains joined in. There were 55 complaints over four years. A Jewish cadet was told, for example, that the holocaust was punishment for Jews because Jews had killed Jesus. The Academy superintendent asked the Yale Divinity School to investigate the situation, and the Yale team endorsed the complaints. The chief chaplain asked a woman chaplain to denounce the Yale report. She refused, saying she agreed with the report. She was ordered to Okinawa where she can be assigned to Iraq or Afghanistan.

Forty-seven members of Congress have asked the acting secretary of the Air Force what in the world is going on in the Air Force Academy – in addition to rapes of female cadets, the subject of prior investigation. The superintendent, a lieutenant general, was asked how long it would take to restore religious tolerance at the Academy. He replied gloomily, “If everything goes well, it’s probably going to take six years to fix it.” Meanwhile the scandal of evangelical proselytizing at a government institution and at public expense has generated, not outrage, but lethargic indifference, with few exceptions, on the part of the media and the Department of Defense.