Thursday, June 23, 2005


NYT: AF Academy Obfuscating Intolerance


A Pentagon inquiry's finding of no overt religious discrimination at the Air Force Academy strains credibility, considering the academy superintendent has already acknowledged it will take years to undo the damage from evangelical zealots on campus. Indeed, amid its thicket of bureaucratese, the report by an Air Force investigative panel goes on for page after page describing cases of obvious and overt religious bias. But it tosses all of these off as "perceived bias," as if the blame lies with the victims and not the offenders, and throws up a fog of implausible excuses, like "a lack of awareness" of what is impermissible behavior by military officers.

This muddle stands in stark contrast to an earlier investigation by Yale Divinity School that found widespread problems with intolerance at the academy. That study described faculty members, chaplains and even the football coach as pressuring cadets toward Christian beliefs and hazing them about divergent views on religion. The Pentagon study insisted that this did not amount to a widespread problem for non-Christian cadets who complained of ranking officers encouraging an evangelical fervor.

Full NYTimes editorial.

Chaplain Capt. Morton

Air Force Capt. MeLinda Morton, right, instructs a class on religious tolerance at the Air Force Academy in Colorado, April 12, 2005.

Morton, a chaplain who in the past spoke out against religious intolerance at the academy, resigned her commission June 21, 2005, after 13 years serving the Air Force.

Morton's attorney told The Gazette in Colorado Springs that the resignation was not coerced. Critics, including Morton, have said evangelical Protestants were harassing cadets of other faiths at the school in violation of constitutional principles of separation of church and state in the military.

(AP Photo/Ed Andrieski, File)

D.H.: DemLog blogged this story two days ago.

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