Friday, March 14, 2014

The agenda of secularism

This is pretty unbelievable--and yet, all too believable:
The Air Force Academy admitted Wednesday that a cadet leader had to remove a Bible verse he had displayed outside his dorm room because it offended non-Christians and could “cause subordinates to doubt the leader’s religious impartiality.”

The controversy started when a cadet leader posted a passage of scripture on his whiteboard with a quote from the New Testament book of Galatians. “I have been crucified with Christ therefore I no longer live, but Christ lives in me,” the verse from Galatians 2:20 read. [...]
Mikey Weinstein, director of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, told me that 29 cadets and four faculty and staff members contacted his organization to complain about the Christian passage.

"Had it been in his room -- not a problem," Weinstein told me. "It's not about the belief. It's about the time, the place and the manner."

He said the Bible verse on the cadet's personal whiteboard created a hostile environment at the academy.

"It clearly elevated one religious faith [fundamentalist Christianity] over all others at an already virulently hyper-fundamentalist Christian institution," he said. "It massively poured fundamentalist Christian gasoline on an already raging out-of-control conflagration of fundamentalist Christian tyranny, exceptionalism and supremacy at USAFA."

Exactly two hours and nine minutes after Weinstein complained to Air Force Academy Superintendent Michelle Johnson, the Bible verse was erased from the cadet leader’s whiteboard. [...]

Johnson said in a written statement that the verse was removed because there was a “potential perception” problem.

“The scripture was below the cadet’s name on a white board and could cause subordinates to doubt the leader’s religious impartiality,” the superintendant said.

You really should read the whole thing, here.

This is not happening by accident.  It's part of the agenda of secularism, the same agenda that is presently using gay "marriage" as the stick with which to drive religious believers out of the public square.  To the secularist, any expression of religion that takes place outside of one's private room or dwelling might "create a hostile environment" or otherwise offend people; even religious expressions in churches may eventually come under attack by the raging secularists who think that belief in God is a form of mental illness and that only the absence of belief can be actively promoted by the State.

But promoting the absence of belief over belief is, itself, a form of belief.  The religion of secularism is atheism, and it is an atheism which is rapidly becoming militant.  The idea that religious believers must be stifled, harassed, shut up, and punished for expressing their faith openly comes from an absurd belief that non-believers have some kind of right to be protected from religious speech; it is an idea that, despite its absurdity, is strangely popular today.  From seeing religious speech as good, noble, and worthy of sharing publicly to seeing religious speech as discriminatory and only worthy of suppression has taken our country about fifty years, give or take; how many years will it be before religious speech will be considered dangerous and deserving of government control?

An Air Force cadet quoting the Bible on the whiteboard outside his room is something that would have seemed normal, acceptable, and even praiseworthy not that many years ago.  But in the new order where only non-belief has any rights, such an act is condemned as hateful and discriminatory.  And it's only going to get worse--especially in the military, which has been the favorite experimental center for leftists who think the military's job is to promote feminism, homosexuality, and (coming soon!) transgenderism in order to force those who serve to accept all of these ideas without question or criticism.

How long before Christians simply can't serve in the military at all, without facing open persecution for being Christian?  Some military members say--albeit very, very quietly--that we are already there.  I think that any Christian parent has to consider very carefully whether there is still a place in the military for those who believe in God and the natural family as well as their country, and perhaps to advise their children against fighting and dying for someone else's supreme right to erase a perfectly innocuous Bible verse from the whiteboard outside a Christian's door.


Barbara C. said...

Two things kind of struck me about this.

1) The quote says that the academy is dominated by fundamentalist (Protestant) Christians. I wonder why that is. While you'd probably expect the majority of the guys in that age range to be at least nominally Christian, it's interesting that the majority are fundamentalist Protestant. Is that particular religious group more likely to join out of a sense of patriotism?

2) Having encountered many young fundamentalist Protestants in college (as in Campus Crusade for Christ), it is possible that this dominating group is being very confrontational and discriminating with their non-fundamentalist Christian peers.

It is possible that if Catholic or Lutheran had written that on board it wouldn't have been a big deal. I wonder if it's directly related to the person who wrote it.

But I still don't know if that changes the religions freedom issue.

Clayton Hennesey said...

Red, you've posed a fantastic challenge for yourself here, one which I hope you'll take up publicly so that others can see how you deal with it.

How would you go about protecting Christians from persecution without mandating religious neutrality by such public institutions like the Air Force Academy?

Without rules preventing overt displays of religious preference by these sorts of institutions charged with their welfare, Christians become the prey of whatever religious adversary gets to them first.

Red Cardigan said...

Clayton, I don't think it's that much of a challenge, really!

I think that public institutions ought not to take a public position in favor of OR against any specific religion--but that's the *institution* we're talking about.

I think that PEOPLE who work for public institutions should be as free to express their faith as anybody, *even* at work.

You see, if I were standing in line at the DMV, and one person had a "John 3:16" sign at her workstation and somebody else had a "St. Michael Prayer" and somebody else had a Jewish star of David and somebody else had, perhaps, a symbol I didn't quite recognize from some religion I'm less familiar with, I would not be in the least offended by that. And most sane, reasonable people wouldn't be, either.

Sure, maybe sometimes you'd get a religious believer who was uncomfortable going to the Jehovah's Witness line or the Wiccan line or something, but so long as the employee isn't proselytizing at work those situations ought to be able to be accommodated by reasonable adults without the rule having to be "No, you can't write or hang anything religious at your workstation."

Now, what if the town is 99.5% Christian and 99.5% Baptist--does the DMV have to go out of its way to restrict the free religious speech of the 99.5% of its employees in order not to offend the .05%? Maybe just a *little.* But only to the extent that the person entering the DMV doesn't believe he or she has entered a Baptist church--not to the extent that nobody is allowed to say "God bless you!" or post a "Jesus Loves You!" sign at work.

And I also think that people in general, especially rampant atheists and militant secularists like those at the ACLU, have to take a big chill pill and recognize that, historically, America has been a mainly Protestant Christian nation and that thus a cross on a publicly-owned hillside is no more an "establishment of religion" as the phrase "In God We Trust" on the money. Now, does that mean we Catholics have to put up with the Protestant Christian history of this country? Yes! Because we don't get to reinvent history to pretend that our nation was founded by people for whom that free practice of various flavors of Protestantism wasn't a huge draw.

Clayton Hennesey said...

Red, public institutions are the people who work in them. Otherwise we'd call them "our robot masters". You're making the argument that the Church can believe one thing, but its representatives should be free to publicly profess another. The military, as you may or may not know, is no more a libertarian organization than the Church.

It's one thing if a Muslim cadet leader wants to console himself in the privacy of his room with a sura that advocates jihad against infidels, quite another if he posts that as a public advertisement in the hall. Your position leaves the Academy with the awkward choices of either letting Darwin sort out the survival of its cadets by force, which happens frequently enough anyway, becoming a militarized religious institution, or playing institutional mommy and deciding on a case by case basis which verses are publicly benign enough for good discipline and order and which not.

Thus the distinction, in that military organization, between public advocacy of sectarian religious points of view on public bulletin boards and private Bible or Koran readings in personal spaces.

Red Cardigan said...

Clayton, the Catholic Church *does* let its members dissent from Church teachings; she just doesn't allow them to do so while a) claiming to be Catholic in good standing and b) representing the Church.

So, no, a cadet can't write: "This is what the American military believes..." and then post a Bible verse. But the cadet should be quite free as an individual to put that Bible verse up in a context where it's not the official "speech" of the academy.

And a whiteboard for personal use outside his room is not in any way an "official speech" vector *unless* ALL private "speech" or writing is forbidden on the whiteboards. The Academy can say, "No one is allowed to post, write, or draw anything personal on his or her whiteboard outside his or her room." The Academy cannot say, "You can write anything you like, including inspirational messages, notices of gay pride events, and reminders to pick up your free birth control at the local clinic, but you CAN'T write anything religious as that is inherently offensive." But that's where we are today--all speech *except* religious speech is freely permitted in the public square.

I hope these sorts of things will lead to SCOTUS challenges, frankly, because I cannot believe that the constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion means that we're free to practice our faiths in private so long as nobody who can overhear us could ever possibly be offended.

Clayton Hennesey said...

I went back and read the entire article as you suggested. It turns out that the problem was that this was a cadet leader, thus rendering his writing official according to the Air Force, which took no action against a dozen or so other plain cadets of several faiths who did the exact same thing in protest but who held no official capacity.

I also tracked back the MRFF organization that filed the complaint and read its mission statement. The only distinction I can find between what Mikey Weinstein and the MRFF say they stand for and want and what you say you stand for and want is that the MRFF doesn't want anyone with power over others influencing their subordinates religiously in any way, whereas, according to your last comment at least, it sounds like you think anyone in any capacity in the military should be able to profess anything they wish religiously while in that capacity.

Well, you put up the links, so readers can decide for themselves what the facts at those links actually support.

I suppose it's a bit after the fact to point out that the mission of the armed services and its leaders is to kill people, or at least threaten them with being killed if they don't do what they're told, not really anything else.

But I can see the trend where the traditional armed services organizations are becoming reshaped to be more like an average college campus.