President elect Obama and his new Secretary of Defense will have multiple problems to deal with, but one which really really needs to be looked into is the attempt by the Christian right to infiltrate and take over the United States Military for their version of Fighting Jesus.
The epicenter of this battle has been the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Oh, Colorado Springs, the home of the New Apostolic Reformation's power base. Imagine that. No wonder why, in 2006, of the 50 complaints of religious harassment from our military academies, 49 came from the Air Force Academy.
In case one thinks 50 complaints is not very many, imagine how difficult it is for any military person, much less a Cadette, to tell a superior officer, "thanks sir, but no thanks." The Air Force academy is also the place which had a big problem with sexual harassment of it's female Cadettes. This happening at the same time as the rise of Evangelical prostelyzation.
Is there a connection? Perhaps, because one of the unstated social goals of these Evangelical groups is the replacement of individual rights with family rights. It doesn't take an Old Testament biblical scholar to figure out where women figure in 'family rights'. Nor should it come as any shock that the group of Cadettes most likely to be harassed are Jewish, but then, there are also plenty of complaints from Cadettes who practice conventional mainstream faiths. Going to Mass, aint' gonna cut it, you must be 'born again'.
There are plenty of available articles about Evangelicals and their influence on the military, especially the officer corps. The Air Force academy stands out however. Both because of it's proximity to the 'Evangelical Vatican', and because of the pervasiveness of the inroads made by Evangelicals into the entire system of the Academy. Fighting Jesus is everywhere.
Mickey Weinstein, an alumni of the Academy and a past member of Reagan's Attorney General's office, is leading the fight against the proselytizing of our military by Evangelicals. He is fighting an uphill battle. He views this confluence of the Evangelicals with the military as a huge separation of Chruch and State issue, and more than that, as a real security threat.
When Jesus is your boss, who really has your allegiance as you pilot your billion dollar stealth bomber? (See sidebar video of McCain/Palin) Is your primary mission to protect and defend the United States, or is it to act as one of God's Holy Warriors? Is this a form of 'weaponized evangelism', an actual military arm to compliment the prayer warriors? Scary thought.
In his attempt to raise this issue, Mickey Weinstein has run into all kinds of interesting roadblocks, and incurred too many personal threats to keep count of. One would think his cause would enjoy the support of the Jewish Anti Defamation League, but Evangelicals have been way too vocal in their support of Israel, so Mickey is looked at as a kind of ugly step child who maybe should pipe down.
As a life long Republican, Mickey has been left out to dry by them as well, and so his congressional allies have been demonized democrats. He has his share of support with in the military, but that is a more quiet support because careers get ruined. He has been a voice crying in the wilderness, but come January 21, 2009 that might change.
You can make book on the fact that Dobson and his crew in Colorado Springs will continue to argue that this is a 'Free Speech' issue: "an assault on religious speech within the United States Military, that will have a chilling effect on constitutionally protected rights of service members."
This Free Speech right also includes the right to actively evangelize while on duty, to lead prayer services during communal events, and spread the word in official newspapers. And of course it most applies to the officer corps. FYI the chaplaincy corps of the Air Force is 70% Evangelical.
Some more FYI. The above patch for the 523rd Fighter Group was singled out by Mickey Weinstein as an egregious example of just how far the Christian Right has been able to penetrate the Air Force. Since the 523rd was down sized out of existence, I guess you could say he won this one. The question is, what comes next?