Former USAF Academy Professor Slams Christian Bigotry

Picture - Christians Desecrate Wiccan Religious Site at Air Force Academy in 2009

The cadets don’t harass other cadets under religious pretext on their own; they take their cues from officers, junior and senior, a core of whom believe, or at least behave as if, the USAFA is the seminary of God’s Air Force

By Darryl Wimberley

I got this letter from Mikey Weinstein’s MRFF [Military Religious Freedon Foundation] site and decided I should pass it along. Some of you probably saw this letter [below] already. The letter is from a cadet speaking of harassment from self-described Christian cadets, and officers, at USAFA. For those who have not read the letter, I thought it important to give some sort of prologue to support the idea that this letter should be taken very seriously.

This cadet’s view, from what I saw in a recent year at USAFA, is truthful. Now, I can imagine a grad from, say ’71, reading the letter penned below with incredulity. The letter was sent to Mikey Weinstein’s MRFF organization to dispute USAFA’s public stand that it’s officially religion-neutral. The details will be hard for many/most to believe who haven’t been plugged into Academy life for a while. So for context here is a bottom-line judgment that I reached after a recent year in Fairchild Hall: USAFA has had a problem distinguishing religious freedom from religious harassment ever since the Frank Dobson center got established at the South Gate. The profile of young folks coming to USAFA has become more narrow with the end of Selective Service; the body is less diverse than during the years where a young man had to worry about the draft.

This hasn’t helped. At the end of my single year, I attended a meeting along with, I guess, a half-dozen faculty members at USAFA who in a closed meeting with Gen Gould reported patterns and specific instances of abuses by officers and cadets related to Christian proselytizing or harrassment or hazing, the same sorts of things reported by the cadet writing the letter you’ll see below. Those faculty were very blunt and Gen. Gould, to his credit, did not try to edit their separate reports or
discount them.

The Academy has a problem and it revolves around officers and cadets who define themselves as Christian. Of course, we’re speaking of a certain view of Christianity. That should be obvious. Not every Xtn cadet at USAFA engages in the kind of behavior you’ll read about.

But many do. And many officers condone it or encourage it by silent consent. What the cadet below describes of his/her daily life at USAFA is not hype, from what I saw firsthand, and learned from other officers on-station. One of the officers speaking with Gen Gould, at the meeting where I was present, spoke of how his own son had been punished for not attending a “voluntary” prayer service. The details of the punishment aren’t important. What is important is that the AOC and chain of command knew about the abuse and did zilch to stop it or punish the offenders.

The other important point to understand is that these are not isolated incidents; it’s been going on a long time. The cadets don’t harass other cadets under religious pretext on their own; they take their cues from officers, junior and senior, a core of whom believe, or at least behave as if, USAFA is the seminary of God’s Air Force.

I outline this prologue because I can imagine that anyone reading this cadet’s letter, without some sort of context, will find it hard to believe.  One of the officers who spoke to Gen Gould was an active duty, senior USAF officer  whose daughter/son experienced this same harassment at USAFA first hand.  Another officer, whose wife was told he’d never be promoted unless he started attending Sunday school, was a professor of history. An Army officer spoke in specific terms of seeing an officer promote the sort of behaviour you’ll read about below in an overseas combat arena.   A good friend of mine with a related experience at USAFA was a Lt Col, AF, who had been teaching at the Academy for five years.

These folks aren’t wackos or nuts. They don’t exaggerate or prevaricate. The problem really is serious. For other details, and endless testimony (including a letter written a few weeks back and signed by many, many faculty) contact Mikey Weinstein at MRFF. If you think it’s worthwhile to pass this along to other grads, obviously, please do.

See the letter below for specifics.
Wepauw ’71

——— Forwarded message ———-
From: Mikey Weinstein
Date: Tue, Sep 21, 2010 at 2:47 PM
Subject: About Ready To Give Up On USAFA
To: Darryl Wimberley

From:USAF Academy Cadet’s E-Mail Address Withheld
Date: September 21, 2010 1:25:22 PM MDT
To: Information
Subject: About Ready To Give Up On USAFA
Mr. Weinstein, I am a Firstclassman (senior) at the United States
Air Force Academy (USAFA). To many who think they know me but actually
do not at all, I am considered an “ideal cadet” and stand high in my
class in every category. I guess you could say that I’m kind of the
leader of an “invisible” group of well over a hundred or so fellow
cadets who support everything you and MRFF have done and are doing
here at the Academy. You and MRFF are our advocates and champions. I
am a Protestant and straight. Most of our group are the same, but some
are LGBT and Catholic and a few are of other faiths including atheists
and agnostics. I will not say whether I am male or female because I
don’t want to give them an edge in ever finding out who I am. I expect
you will show this to others and I hope you do. For a long time you
asked us to trust the “system” here at USAFA and take our religious
persecution grievances “up the chain” or to other reporting elements.
You told us all the time that the Superintendent, Lt. Gen. Gould, and
his staff would have our backs and not let anything bad happen to us
if we came forward. We told you that was crazy. We told you that many
times. Then, when Lt. Gen. Gould refused to make public the “Climate
Study” data, after first describing it as positive, and then all the
bad information leaked out, we thought that was the final straw. Then,
this morning we all saw in “Falcon Clips”, sent all over USAFA from
the USAFA Public Affairs people, the hyper “anti Mikey/MRFF” blog
submission from something or someone called
“”? We now know that person to be an active
duty USAF Officer and USAFA grad, of course, with about an endless
number of axes to grind. USAFA didn’t know that too? Impossible. That
pretty much sealed the deal for all of us. USAFA is now distributing
even individual blogger’s pro Christian supremacy sentiments to
everybody who exists here? Mr. Weinstein, USAFA is literally overrun
with Christian conservative fanatics. And the leadership here either
knows this or is ridiculously blind to it. If any of us gave even the
slightest indication that we weren’t one of their number, our lives
would be even more miserable than they already are due to the fact
that we are all living lies here. Despite the Cadet Honor Code we all
lie about our lives. We have to. We don’t have a choice. Thus we are
all “invisible” to our tormentors. They will never find us. My own
parents don’t know. Only my finacee knows and he/she is one of my
classmates and a fellow member of our underground group. I keep
“Christian” books and “Christian” CD’s in my room so others will be
fooled and leave me alone and not suspect that I’m not actually with
the USAFA “Christianity is the Only Way” program here, even though I
consider myself to be a Christian. Sometimes we got to their “bible
studies” or attend SPIRE events and hold our breath that we’re not
“outed”. Many of this group I kind of lead do exactly the same things.
It is so much of the total culture here that to object even slightly
immediately brands you as suspect. And if you are suspect, then you
are in trouble. We all need those discretionary academic instructor
points. We all need our AOCs and Wing and Group and Squadron staffs to
want to support us. We all want more playing time with our athletic
teams. We all need help from “the system” in an infinite number of
ways but we will never get that help if we do not appear to be extreme
conservative evangelistic Christians in every way. The news article
says that you are now back “At war with USAFA”. Join the club.

(name, cadet rank, Cadet Squadron and Cadet Wing Title withheld)

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21 Responses to "Former USAF Academy Professor Slams Christian Bigotry"

  1. Ishmael  October 1, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    I’m a 6-year Navy Vet/Tin-Can Sonarman and served from 72-78 at the close of the Vietnam War. While I was in, I also counseled some of my friends on Conscientious Objector status. So here’s what I would do If I was at the AF Acadamy and subjected to this type of proselytizing.

    I would JOIN and take an Active Part in Cadets For Christ. I would stress Christ’s message of Peace, Non-Violence and Loving and Forgiving your enemies. I would also actively urge my fellow Cadets for Christ to Live their Faith every day by Renouncing killing and violence in ALL it’s forms, ESPECIALLY War. I would further urge them all to embody Christ’s teachings by filing for Conscientious Objector Status and Discharge since ANY role in the Military only serves the cause of Death and is contrary to Christ’s Teachings. I would also swear an Oath before God that I would personally renounce Military Service in ANY form whatsoever for the same reasons.

    One cannot serve God by participating in the Killing of others.

  2. Mihail  October 1, 2010 at 11:52 am

    Those stupid people are not Chriostian,they are useful-idiots of the jews.Khazar,ASKENAZI jews is our enemy.They are impostors sons of hell from SYNAGOGUE OF SATAN(REVELATION 2:9,,3:9).

  3. Kim  October 1, 2010 at 10:00 am

    I believe what the cadet wrote. I am a Lutheran pastor, and another Lutheran pastor, who was a chaplain at the USAFA blew the whistle on this religious harassment. Right wing conservative Christianity, IMHO, has more to do with politics that religious faith.

  4. Dave  September 30, 2010 at 11:08 pm

    Just because they say they’re Christian doesn’t make it so. False Christianity is nothing new. Paul warns that even Satan will come as light into the world.

    That said, it’s apparent that Christianity is not understood by any of the parties involved…one side bullies and the other wines…mean while Jesus Christ is no where to be seen in all these live, not even a glimmer on the sideline, very sad.

    good grief!

  5. Fred  September 30, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    Weinstein has no standing to be running his mouth. For the lifetime of our nation, one glaring statistic has always stood out in our wars: Jews have been spectacularly underrepresented in our combat deaths. If you want to work in the post office, go work in the post office, Weinstein — in your homeland, which isn’t America.

    911 proved that every Jew in our armed forces constitutes a fifth column of Judeo-supremacist aggression against America. I’m thinking particularly of the Yoran brothers (West Pointers) who sabotaged American defense computers on 9/11.

    • Gordon Duff  October 1, 2010 at 9:56 am

      Weinstein, a Jew, has been around for a bit. Weinstein, a Jew, has been about as decent an American as any that has ever existed. This isn’t a pro-Israel website…but we have carefully vetted Mickey Weinstein.

  6. James  September 29, 2010 at 10:43 am

    COL Jack, what are you trying to say? Neither sarcasm nor poor English translate well in the written word.

  7. Pete  September 23, 2010 at 11:16 am

    PS – Wicca is just the homosexual version of Thelema…

  8. Pete  September 23, 2010 at 11:14 am

    Congrats to the young Dominionists. Talmud and paganism out of America and Western Civilization!

  9. Don Branum  September 23, 2010 at 10:36 am

    Lt Butikofer — I’ve been stationed at the Academy since shortly before the Class of ’09 graduation ceremony. With the exception of the cross incident at the Pagan circle, I haven’t seen any incidents of religious harassment or discrimination here.

    I’m Pagan, I work in the PA office, and I have Mikey’s phone number in my cell phone address book. I’d like to think that if this is really going on, I’m in a position to help highlight it.

    But maybe I’m a little biased, too, because I don’t get butthurt when I run across an opinion that’s different than mine, and I’ll discuss/debate religion with anyone until the cows come home. Praying for others against their wishes is harassment, yes. That said, there’s a difference between harassment/proselytizing and discussing a range of opinions. If a cadet can’t distinguish that difference, I don’t hold out much hope for him as an Air Force officer.

    • Michael Leon  September 23, 2010 at 12:52 pm

      Wow, an Academy public affairs hack hasn’t “seen any incidents of religious harassment or discrimination.”


    • B.A. Gilmore  September 25, 2010 at 2:25 pm

      My mother was a “born again Christian”. So was my uncle and almost all my relatives. There isn’t a difference between harassment and proselytizing. There is no discussing a range of opinion. When someone is proselytizing, they don’t want to hear your opinion. They don’t want to hear anything from you except what they want to hear. I can understand the cadet who kept the Christian CDs etc. in his room. Obviously you’ve never been surrounded by rabid Christians. I feel sorry for the cadet. I’ve lived his life. My uncle preached at me so much, he never knew anything about me. It was his choice. He chose never to talk to me. We both missed out, but avoiding him was my only option.

  10. Casey Butikofer  September 23, 2010 at 10:01 am

    I am a ’09 USAFA grad. During my time there, I did see examples of religious display and proselyting. One incidence a cadet displayed some religious materials on other cadets’ doors and prayed for them. This cadet was quickly reminded by my AOC to keep such matters at a personal level and that was the end of it. I personally never felt obligated to attend certain religious events nor did I feel persecuted for not attending. I am not saying that this sort of activity never happened, only that I did not see it or hear of it (other than hearsay). Perhaps the reason I never experienced this behavior is because I am a Mormon and was ignored. Perhaps I was never in the “right place at the right time”. I have some doubts to how “widespread” this issue really is. I never felt that I needed to display religious memorabilia or texts in order to be included in the group. I know that every squadron within the academy is a little different and has its own sub culture. Of course those with legitimate concerns should be addressed. This is my personal opinion and I wanted to bring another perspective to view.

  11. Brandon Longcrier  September 22, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    “Earth-Centered Worship Site” not “Wiccan”. Wicca is a denomination / tradition that falls under Paganism (AKA Earth-Centered Spirituality). We have more than just Wiccans in our group.

    Brandon Longcrier – USAF Academy Earth-Centered Lay Leader

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