June 25, 2005

Focus on the AF Academy: Wonderland

Filed under: Random Stuff — Bob Gifford @ 12:44 am

From a Chicago Tribune article on the report on religious harassment at the Air Force Academy:

Focus on the Family Vice President Tom Minnery said his group hoped the report would put an end to the controversy.

“We fervently hope that this ridiculous bias of a few against the religion of the majority–Christianity–will now cease,” Minnery said. “All along it has been an absurd notion that a campus with chaplains and a chapel must somehow bottle up religion. Academy cadets are trained to render the ultimate sacrifice, and should be encouraged to grapple with life’s ultimate meaning, not harassed when they do so.”

As bad as Rep. Hostettler’s “moth to flames” remark on the floor of the House was, I could shrug it off as just more Republican over-the-top political hyperbole. But this statement by this Minnery guy has me wondering if I’ve fallen down a rabbit hole.

“…ridiculous bias of a few…” So for a Jewish person to ask to not be called a “filthy jew” is bias? What kind of crazy world is this? What is this bias Minnery speaks of?

`Then you should say what you mean,’ the March Hare went on.

`I do,’ Alice hastily replied; `at least–at least I mean what I say–that’s the same thing, you know.’

`Not the same thing a bit!’ said the Hatter. `You might just as well say that “I see what I eat” is the same thing as “I eat what I see”!’

“…against the religion of the majority–Christianity…” How many Christians at the Air Force Academy have been harassed at the Academy because of their religion? I know of one – the Lutheran pastor, Rev. Melinda Morton, who was disciplined for speaking up about routine religious harassment of non-evangelicals.

`What size do you want to be?’ it asked.

`Oh, I’m not particular as to size,’ Alice hastily replied; `only one doesn’t like changing so often, you know.’

`I don’t know,’ said the Caterpillar.

Alice said nothing: she had never been so much contradicted in her life before, and she felt that she was losing her temper.

“…it has been an absurd notion that a campus…must somehow bottle up religion.” If Notre Dame can make non-Catholics feel welcome there, why can’t the Air Force Academy, a government-run institution, do the same for non-evangelicals? Respecting your fellow students and tolerating different beliefs isn’t bottling up your religion. It’s good manners. It’s treating others as you would have them treat you. It’s Christian.

`I didn’t know that Cheshire cats always grinned; in fact, I didn’t know that cats could grin.’

`They all can,’ said the Duchess; `and most of ’em do.’

`I don’t know of any that do,’ Alice said very politely, feeling quite pleased to have got into a conversation.

`You don’t know much,’ said the Duchess; `and that’s a fact.’

“Academy cadets…should be encouraged to grapple with life’s ultimate meaning…” How can a cadet grapple with life’s ultimate meaning when they see a banner everyday for “Team Jesus Christ”? Grappling means thinking through alternatives, not being told what to think by your professors and coaches.

`I wish I hadn’t cried so much!’ said Alice, as she swam about, trying to find her way out. `I shall be punished for it now, I suppose, by being drowned in my own tears! That will be a queer thing, to be sure! However, everything is queer to-day.’

“…not harassed when they do so.” Harassed? You can’t be harassed when the entire institutional power of the Academy is on your side. You can’t be harassed when you are part of the overwhelming majority.

`Let the jury consider their verdict,’ the King said, for about the twentieth time that day.

`No, no!’ said the Queen. `Sentence first–verdict afterwards.’

`Stuff and nonsense!’ said Alice loudly. `The idea of having the sentence first!’

Of course Focus on the Family is a next door neighbor to the Air Force Academy, so Minnery is part of the same insular Colorado Springs arch-conservative Christian culture as the worst offenders at the Academy. But how can a spokesperson for an international organization like Focus on the Family get away with saying something that completely turns the truth on it’s head? That turns the Constitution on its head? That turns Christianity on its head? Has the world gone mad?

“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.

“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”

“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.

“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”

(All quotes from Alice in Wonderland from here.)


  1. That guy Minnery and Tom Cruise have a lot in common. I’m right,
    you’re wrong. I’ve read it. I know. You don’t understand. You
    won’t let me talk about it….

    Comment by wildwest — June 28, 2005 @ 3:17 pm

  2. Colorado Springs is also the home to New Life Church, a powerful
    megachurch whose pastor advocates preventive war and says that the
    meaning of evangelicalism is being “pro-free markets.” See the
    in Harpers Magazine.

    Comment by mim — July 4, 2005 @ 4:56 am

  3. The majority of which you speak is not in
    unanimity. There may be some so-called
    Christians who would say “filthy Jew” to one
    of God’s chosen, while others would cringe
    from a broken heart at hearing those words.
    Jesus, himself a Jew, said that anyone who
    calls another a fool is just as guilty as if
    she had murdered someone.

    Yet other so-called Christians might be guilty
    of harassing those so-called Christians who say
    things like “filthy Jew”.

    I think it’s been said in more than one social
    psychology textbook that the diversity within
    a group is greater than the diversity between
    or among distinct groups.

    The insults at the Air Force Academy can end
    if more people become Christians, or if more
    people seemly decide to be loving and
    respectful without squelching religious

    The “ridiculous bias” is the disrespect of
    religion, whether it is done by calling
    someone “filthy” or by telling someone to
    stop sharing about their faith.

    Comment by Glenn Shrom — March 2, 2006 @ 4:20 pm

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