October 11, 2005
The Air Force, facing a lawsuit over alleged proselytizing, has withdrawn a document that permitted chaplains to evangelize military personnel who were not affiliated with any faith, Pentagon officials said yesterday.
The document was circulated at the Air Force Chaplain School until eight weeks ago. It was a “code of ethics” for chaplains that included the statement “I will not proselytize from other religious bodies, but I retain the right to evangelize those who are not affiliated.”
… The Air Force distanced itself from the code of ethics after complaints by Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein, a 1977 Air Force Academy graduate who has accused the academy’s current leaders of fostering pressure on cadets to convert to evangelical Christianity.
Last week, Weinstein filed suit in federal court in New Mexico, alleging “severe, systemic and pervasive” religious discrimination in the Air Force.
… “They say the bad guys we’re fighting, the jihadists, represent a theocratic, fascistic movement,” Weinstein said. “If the United States Air Force, probably the most technologically lethal organization ever assembled by man, has a policy of evangelizing ‘the unchurched,’ you tell me how that makes us look.”
The Air Force has new guidelines on religious tolerance that discourage public prayers on all but rare occasions. They do not ban evangelizing but say chaplains “must be as sensitive to those who do not welcome offerings of faith as they are generous in sharing their faith with those who do.”
Weinstein called the guidelines insufficient, but evangelical Christian groups attacked them as overly restrictive. “Mikey Weinstein might not like it, but it is the job of an evangelical Christian chaplain to evangelize,” said Tom Minnery, vice president of public policy for the Colorado-based Focus on the Family.
Ah yes, that fine Christian organization whose compassionate leader believes that 9/11 was God’s retribution against America for abortion, profanity and immorality.
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