Dark Christianity
dark_christian
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May 2008
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Obfuscating Intolerance

LJ-SEC: (ORIGINALLY POSTED BY [info]sunfell)

This NYT Op-ed talks about the recent inquiry in the USAF Academy religious case:

Obfuscating Intolerance

A Pentagon inquiry's finding of no overt religious discrimination at the Air Force Academy strains credibility, considering the academy superintendent has already acknowledged it will take years to undo the damage from evangelical zealots on campus. Indeed, amid its thicket of bureaucratese, the report by an Air Force investigative panel goes on for page after page describing cases of obvious and overt religious bias. But it tosses all of these off as "perceived bias," as if the blame lies with the victims and not the offenders, and throws up a fog of implausible excuses, like "a lack of awareness" of what is impermissible behavior by military officers.

This muddle stands in stark contrast to an earlier investigation by Yale Divinity School that found widespread problems with intolerance at the academy. That study described faculty members, chaplains and even the football coach as pressuring cadets toward Christian beliefs and hazing them about divergent views on religion. The Pentagon study insisted that this did not amount to a widespread problem for non-Christian cadets who complained of ranking officers encouraging an evangelical fervor.

Without offering details, the Air Force panel did refer seven specific incidents to the chain of command for possible investigation. These hardly had a sense of urgency, however, as investigators insisted the problem was merely accidental insensitivity by some "probably well-intentioned" faculty and staff members who were expressing their faith in "inappropriate" ways. There was far less hedging in the earlier apology and admission of a considerable problem by Lt. Gen. John Rosa Jr., the academy superintendent, when he addressed Jewish leaders concerned about possible anti-Semitism on campus.

Lt. Gen. Roger Brady, who headed the study, said the entire nation was increasingly facing questions about the proper bounds of religious expression. That is so, but he vastly overstated his case when he said that keeping religion out of military education was a complicated matter. Religious faith, or lack of it, is a precious individual right and everyone on the academy's campus has sworn to protect the Constitution in which it is enshrined. Sadly, now that Air Force investigators have spoken to this point so equivocally, the burden of actually restoring the academy's reputation is more than ever a problem.

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