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Cadets For Christ: Women, Evangelicals, and the Air Force Academy

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This is the most recent development in an outrageous story that has been developing over the better part of this year, so, for those who need to be brought up to speed, here's what's going on in as small of a nutshell as I can put it:

There's a fundamentalist ministry operating at the Air Force Academy called Cadets For Christ. This ministry is part of the "shepherding" movement, using cult-like tactics by which the cadets recruited by ministry leaders Don and Anna Warrick are separated from their families and anything else that might interfere with their brainwashing. In the shepherding movement, the female is the "sheep" and the male is the "shepherd," and a woman's sole purpose in life is to be a good wife and mother, subordinating herself to her male shepherd.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) has been contacted by a number of parents of Academy cadets who have fallen prey to the Warricks' ministry, and one of these families has been brave enough to go public with their story.

Peter and Jean Baas, the parents of 2010 Academy graduate Lauren Baas, are now completely estranged from their daughter. Why? Because the Baas family is Catholic, and therefore, according to the Warricks, unsaved. While at the Academy, Lauren Baas, who entered the Academy with dreams of becoming an Air Force pilot, was prepared for what can only be described as an arranged marriage by the Warricks, and is now engaged to her shepherd. A woman, of course, is destined by God to be a good wife and mother and serve her shepherd, not be an Air Force pilot and serve her country.

Lest anyone think that the "sheep and shepherd" terminology might be an exaggeration, just take a look at Lauren Baas's "Baa Baa Sisterhood" cookbook.

2010-12-22-cookbook.jpeg


Part of the Baas family's going public with their story was to write a "holiday letter" to the Warricks, with an introduction to Air Force Academy superintendent Lt. Gen. Mike Gould, to whom the letter was also sent. I urge everyone to read this letter, which can be found here. Reading the words of one of the families ripped apart by this Air Force Academy sanctioned ministry is the only way to even begin to fathom what the Warricks are doing to the cadets who fall under their influence.

Now, on to the latest development.

Last week, Jean Baas was contacted by the Air Force Academy's head chaplain, Col. Robert Bruno, who informed her that the Academy had received 35 letters in support of Cadets for Christ, but only nine opposing the ministry. The nine letters opposing the ministry were not solicited, but presumably just sent by people who had read about what Cadets for Christ had done to the Baas family. Most of the 35 in support of the ministry, on the other hand, were solicited by Don Warrick in an Oct. 31 email, which began: "The Wing Chaplain at the Air Force Academy and our Board thought it would be helpful if we had on file at the Chaplain's office letters from present and past cadets, parents, board members and other friends of Cadets for Christ."

In a Sept. 28 letter to the Secretary of Defense, which was posted here on Huffington Post and elsewhere, MRFF had included quotes from some of Jean Baas's emails to MRFF founder and president Mikey Weinstein, and demanded an investigation of Cadets for Christ. MRFF did not name the Baas family by name in that letter, but began publicly using their name shortly thereafter.

This led Anna Warrick to send the following email to the Cadets for Christ flock sometime in mid-October:

"A quick update on the Mikey Weinstein situation. We have been interrogated by the Chaplain's office and are at least at this time in the clear from the superintendent's office. Even though the underground newspaper wrote a questioning article in regard to Lauren's mother and her accusations, Lauren came out for the Fall Retreat and she and Andy seem to be doing well although a bit "ruffled" by all the accusations even towards Andy and his lovely family. It appears that Mikey is not sure this is a situation that is worth his efforts so for now a relatively quiet time. We have some great upperclassmen who were curious about what was being said and liked the group well enough that they stayed ... guess ther (sic) is some humor in that. We decided to move the small group Wednesday studies at USAFA back to our house so we will not use any USAFA facilities which is what Mr. Weinstein seems to target ... this too is working well for all of us."


Apparently, by the end of October, the Warricks had realized that the "Mikey Weinstein situation" was not going to go away, and that they were going to need to start stockpiling some ammo, prompting Don Warrick to send out his Oct. 31 solicitation for letters of support, entitled "Want To Do A Favor For Cadets For Christ?," which went to over a hundred people, about a quarter of them current Academy cadets. The flock was instructed to address their letters to Air Force Academy chaplain Lt. Col. J. Daniel Brantingham. A follow-up email was sent out by Warrick on November 9, thanking those who had already sent their letters to Lt. Col. Brantingham, and asking those who hadn't already sent theirs to do so.

So, since the Air Force Academy has apparently decided to base its decision on whether or not to take proper action regarding Cadets for Christ on a "vote," tallied by how many letters of support and how many letters of opposition it receives, I think it only proper for MRFF to solicit letters in the same way that Cadets for Christ is doing.

Therefore, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and the Baas family thought it would be helpful if we had on file at the Chaplain's office letters from friends of the United States Constitution, religious freedom, and everyone who feels that the United States Air Force Academy should be encouraging women to aspire to something more than being subservient "sheep" to their male "shepherds," in opposition of Cadets for Christ.

Emails should be addressed to:

USAFA Head Chaplain Col. Robert Bruno at robert.bruno@usafa.edu, Cadet Wing Chaplain Lt. Col. Dan Brantingham at james.brantingham@usafa.edu, and, just for good measure, USAFA Superintendent Lt. Gen. Mike Gould at mike.gould@usafa.edu

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