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 (RNS) Debate has reignited at the Air Force Academy over the proper place of religion as fresh cadets arrived for basic training in Colorado Springs, Colo. By Chris Lisee.

4 Comments

  1. Raymond Takashi Swenson

    I served 20 years in the Air Force, primarily as a JAG officer (attorney). I was stationed in Colorado Springs and my son was born at the AF Academy Hospital.

    I don’t see any evidence in this story of any coercion. People complaining because they were “proselyted”–invited to listen to a religious message–apparently want something that they would not have in civilian life, the ability to censor any speech they disagree with. As adults, they are expected to be able to hear and read all sorts of diverse viewpoints expressed and make up their own minds whether to believe the messages or not. So long as no one is constraining them, speaking to them is not an infringement on any right, but restraining others from speaking to them would deprive the speakers of the right of free speech.

    If everyone could censor anyone else, would the students with Republican leanings get to censor the Democrats? Would a student who wants to tell another student about Darwin’s theory of evolution be censored? Students speak to each other about sports, politics, dating, and all sorts of other topics. Censoring speech about religion, when it is not forcing anyone to listen against their will, violates the First Amendment.

  2. Holly Robinson

    “good and positive” for whom, exactly? Conservative fundamentalist Protestants only.

  3. They were not “invited” and they were constrained – that’s the whole point. When a military commander tells cadets that they are “encouraged” to attend an evangelical proselytizing talk, effectively they are being ordered to be proselytized.

  4. I am glad that the Air Force made the call, leaving religious matters to chaplains. I am also very disappointed that these congressmen/women insist on sticking their noses in something they do not understand. I have served over ten years in the military and have seem commanders on both sides of this issue. Those who are obviously biased and promote their own beliefs while ignoring or even discouraging beliefs other than their own. And then those who let a person’s personal beliefs remain personal.

    By writing this letter to the Secretary of Defense, they have displayed a complete disregard for every Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marines and Coastguards-men who holds beliefs contrary to their own. It creates a hostile environment for these service members and I for one will not stand for it.