Precinct 333

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Academy Of Intolerance?

A military academy is supposed to train strong leaders. Its students take an oath to uphold the Constitution, and should be prepared to respect the rights of all citizens.

Sadly, the Air Force Academy seems to be failing in that regard.

The problem, according to Lt. Gen. John W. Rosa Jr., superintendent of the Air Force Academy, is that non-Christian students are uncomfortable.

"Some students had a feeling that 'If I'm not a Christian, I feel like I'm having Christianity crammed down my throat,"' Rosa said.

According to Rosa, their level of discomfort is striking.

In surveys done in August, more than 30 percent of non- Christian students said Christian cadets are given preferential treatment, while less than 10 percent of Christian students felt that way. Only a little more than half of non- Christian students reported they "have not felt pressure to be involved in religion" at the academy.

But when it comes down to pointing out problems, Rosa would only name one.

For example, Rosa said that when the film "The Passion of the Christ" was in theaters, some cadets e-mailed their squadrons to suggest seeing it together. The film, a graphic depiction of Jesus' death, was particularly popular among evangelical Christians.

"People felt they were being coerced," Rosa said.

Good grief! They felt coerced by an invitation to view the movie with a group of their peers! Mel Gibson's film is the top grossing picture of all time, and was also the most controversial new release of the last 50 years. Of course people would suggest that their friends go to see it. And given the subject matter, it is no surprise that some would even use it as a tool of peer-to-peer evangelization. But to call an email from a peer that SUGGESTS that a group go to see the movie is hardly coercion -- at least not if you have a spine.

Rosa believes he sees where the problem arises.

Many cadets bring their family's religious values to the academy with them, Rosa said, and don't realize they might be crossing a line when they talk about religion with others. He said the academy intends to address the problem by educating cadets about tolerance.

"It's not mean-spirited. It's all they know," Rosa said. "We must ensure a climate free of discrimination and marginalization."

Ah, I understand. It is those darn Christian again. They aren't content to stay down in the catacombs. They feel like they actually have a right to come up in the sunlight and talk about their faith on the same basis they might talk about politics, football, or tomorrow's English exam. We'll just hold mandatory indoctrination classes, to re-educate these ignorant folks who think that it is acceptable to freely talk about God in 21st century America.

The frightening thing is that the general does not see the inherent contradiction present in his plan. In an effort to make sure that the minority's feelings remain unscathed, the majority will be told that the exercise of their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and free exercise of religion will be restricted via the establishment of the religion of tolerance.

And we inch forward toward the day when Americans of faith will find that they are a marginalized majority, unwelcome in the classroom, the government, and the halls of government.


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