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Southern Religion

U.S. Air Force Academy cadets & Christian conservative religious intimidation

How did the U.S. Air Force Academy come to be so “overrun with Christian conservative fanatics” that a coalition of civil rights and interfaith groups was driven to send a letter Tuesday to the Department of Defense.

That letter detailed a startling cadet email and included “testimony from the parents of an academy graduate who believe their daughter was ‘methodically brain washed’ by a fundamentalist group there, demanding an investigation of the academy and the evangelical academy ministry Cadets For Christ.”

It all began with the chaplains, who have as a group become steadily more fundamentalist. As Jeff Sharlet explains:

“It was Vietnam which really turned the tide,” writes Anne C. Loveland, author of the only book-length study of the evangelical wave within the armed forces, American Evangelicals and the U.S. Military, 1942-1993. Until the Vietnam War, it was the traditionally moderate mainline Protestant denominations (Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians), together with the Catholic Church, that dominated the religious life of the military. But as leading clergymen in these denominations spoke out against the war, evangelicals who saw the struggle in Vietnam as God’s task rushed in. In 1966, Billy Graham used the pulpit of the Presidential Prayer Breakfast to preach a warrior Christ to lead the troops in Vietnam: “I am come to send fire on the earth!” he quoted Christ. “Think not that I am come to send peace but a sword!” Other fundamentalists took from Vietnam the lessons of guerrilla combat, to be applied to the spiritual fight through the tactic of what they called infiltration, filling the ranks of secular institutions with missionaries both bold and subtle. That same year, one Family organizer advised inverting the strategy of the Vietcong, who through one targeted assassination could immobilize thousands. Winning the soul “key men” in the military could mobilize many more for spiritual war”

Read the rest of that excerpt from Sharlet’s book C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy [here].

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October 3, 2010 - Posted by | Church/State | , ,

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