Saturday, July 19, 2008

Serious Proselytizing at Air Force Base

Consider what I am about to say from the fact I am deeply committed to Christ, not only as a Chaplain, but as a Greek Orthodox Christian. This is appalling to me as well. While no one is saying people cannot pray at will, whenever and wherever they want, there has to be some ground rules about forcing others to participate. Sorry but that's the way it is. Aside from the fact you do not pull people toward Christ by force or intimidation, we need to understand there are people in the military from many different faiths. We also need to know that there are many branches of Christianity and people do not all come to the same conclusion of what they believe.

Case in point. I worked for a Presbyterian Church as head of Christian Education. While I was raised to bless myself 3 times in the name of the Holy Trinity, the Presbyterians do not do. They do not knell to pray for forgiveness, but I do. Even the Apostle's Creed is different than the one I grew up with. There is also the attitude of some Christians that people are chosen by God and it has nothing to do with their freewill choice or what they do upon this earth. There are some branches allowing women to enter into the clergy and others do not. Each branch of Christianity has their own doctrine. I do not believe what some fundamentalist believe but in no way do I try to tell them that the way I was raised is the only right way and would not tolerate them trying to tell me their's is the only right way.

When even Christians cannot agree on what is right, how can any believe they have the authority to enforce their beliefs on others? How can they try to force people of other faiths to adapt to their faith or be punished? Faith is a personal issue, not a military one. Faith is something we come to on our own or walk away from depending on our own experiences. This is why there are different churches to fill different beliefs and needs. To have people pretending to have moral authority over souls just because they have military authority, not only insults the faiths of others, it is also against all they have taken an oath to uphold.

Serious Proselytizing at Air Force Base
Ed Brayton
Science Blogs

Jul 18, 2008
July 18, 2008 - The Jewish Observer reports on new accusations of unconstitutional religious activities at Wright Patterson Air Base in Ohio. The report is based on work done by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which has received 100 complaints from people who've worked at that air base over proselytization and worse going on by military officers. Here's a story from one person on that base:

At public speaking engagements, Mikey Weinstein says he often reads a letter he received in July 2006 from a former contractor at Wright-Patt. Back at home in Albuquerque, he reads from the letter on the phone:
"I worked at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base for just over a year as a civilian contractor...Staff meetings were prefaced and closed by fundamentalist Christian prayer sessions, and the senior NCOs who led the prayer sessions made it clear to the military trainees that they were judged on whether or not they enthusiastically participated. The trainee air persons were given the choice of attending fundamentalist Christian religious prayer ceremonies on Sunday or being assigned to particularly onerous substitute duties. It was made very clear to them that decent evaluations and a successful training period leading to a tolerable term of enlistment or a career in the Air Force included completely embracing fundamentalist Christianity...I was appalled to find groups of senior officers praying as a decision-making aid...Once I got to know people and heard more conversations, I realized that for many officers, the war in Iraq is not at all politically motivated, but religiously motivated. It is a fundamentalist Christian jihad that will bring on the apocalypse and rapture, which is what they want.
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