Sunday, June 26, 2005

USAFA Evangelicals doing military heathens a favor

Lt Col. James Kelso (USAF-ret) thinks that the brouhaha over the charges of religious intolerance at the US Air Force Academy is a direct breach of the Evangelical cadets constitutional rights because the First Amendment was
"written to ensure that the federal government would not require everyone to be a member of the Church of England or the Roman Catholic Church and to guarantee that every U.S. citizen would be able to freely express his or her religious beliefs without fear of being sent to prison or executed."
In Kelso's view, cadets should embrace Jesus. While he does concede that the academy should ensure that no one is subjected to unwanted badgering, he implies the actions of the evangelical cadets and staff in ensuring non-adherents were aware of consequences of not becoming "Christian" is nothing other than a good a discussion "as stimulating and enriching as an exchange about the pros and cons of using nuclear weapons." In short, the proselytizing and coercion used against non-adherents to orthodox Christian denominations was in their best interests as it's how the cadets may have no other experiences/exposure to being held accountable for their actions.
"During my four years at the academy, some cadets shared their beliefs openly with others. They had Bible studies in their rooms and no one ever felt put upon. We just accepted these evangelicals as the "good guys." Perhaps if more cadets had listened to them during my four years there, or if the football coach had put up a Christian banner in the locker room as today's coach has done, we would not have lost scores of football players in two separate honor scandals. Christianity attempts to hold people accountable and teaches that there are consequences for bad actions."
According to Kelso, who dares to remind us of the sexual abuse scandal that triggered the invitation to the Yale Divinity group that uncovered the rampant religious intolerance and abuse of authority, a stronger Christian belief system at the Academy might actually prevent sexual assault. He takes offense that WaPo columnist Richard Cohen had the audacity to say "They know how to fly but maybe they don't know what they are flying for." To this, he says:
"He better believe we know what we're flying for, and why many of our friends and fellow servicemen have died fighting for this country. We do it so that he can have the freedom to spout his demeaning rhetoric and so that I and every other citizen in this great nation can exercise our religious beliefs without fear of persecution."
That is, provided they can do it while persecuting others.

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