May 25, 2007
Onward Christian soldiers
Despite what their spokesfolks told the Washington Post, God’s own Air Force and God’s own Army will still be saluting the troops for Jesus this Memorial Day weekend:
After complaints by a government watchdog group, the Air Force and the Army partially distanced themselves yesterday from a three-day evangelical Christian event this weekend at a Georgia theme park.
The Memorial Day weekend “Salute to the Troops” celebration at Stone Mountain Park is sponsored by Task Force Patriot USA, a private group that says its purpose is “sharing the fullness of life in Jesus Christ with all U.S. military, military veterans and families,” and whose Web site says “Christ is our Commander-in-Chief.”
In recent days, both the Task Force Patriot USA Web site and the newspaper of Robins Air Force Base, Ga., described the celebration as “an official U.S. Air Force 60th Anniversary event.” Along with speeches by evangelical ministers, church services and distribution of Bibles, the published schedule promised “hourly flyovers” by Air Force jets, performances by military bands, color guard presentations, a parachute demonstration by the Army’s elite Silver Wings jump team from Fort Benning, Ga., and exhibitions of Air Force equipment.
The promotional materials also said that an active-duty B-2 pilot, Air Force Maj. Brian “Jethro” Neal, would give Christian “testimony” during an outdoor worship service punctuated by a special flyover of B-2 “stealth” bombers.
A Washington-based advocacy group, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, sent letters yesterday to Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne and acting Secretary of the Army Pete Geren contending that the military’s extensive cooperation in the event would be unconstitutional.
“The Air Force and the Army have crossed the line here: A reasonable observer, upon examining the promotional materials, the Robins Air Force Base newspaper, and the current program schedule, could not help but believe that the Army and Air Force fully support and endorse the Christian substance of the celebration,” the letters said.
We’ve been here before.
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