Air Force dedicates chapel to Wiccans and Druids

It happened earlier this week in Colorado.

Details, from the Colorado Springs Gazette:

Add Wiccans and Druids to the list of faiths that have their own chapel at the Air Force Academy.

A circle of stones around an altar was dedicated on a hilltop above the campus Tuesday with earth-centered prayer and speeches about religious liberty at the academy, a school that has long faced criticism as a bastion for evangelical Christianity.

“This outdoor worship space is something we have created to help people of all religions,” Lt. Gen. Michael Gould, the academy’s superintendent, said before a ribbon cutting on the site.

The academy is home to about 10 cadets who regularly attend “earth centered” worship groups. Earth-centered is a catch-all phrase for groups including New Age religion, paganism, Wicca, Druids and ancient Norse beliefs.

“This is very important for us, we didn’t have a place to call our own, to be outside in nature,” said cadet Nicole Johnson, a member of the earth-centered group.

Johnson and others used to meet in an engineering classroom to worship before construction of Cadet Chapel Falcon Circle, on a 7,200-foot hill top that overlooks the main cadet chapel.

Maj. Joshua Narrowe, a rabbi at the academy, said chaplains signed off the earth-centered chapel and pushed for its construction.

“I think its great,” Narrowe said. “It’s not a big group, but is a religious need.”

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24 responses to “Air Force dedicates chapel to Wiccans and Druids”

  1. What great move on the part of the Air Force Academy! I’m happy to hear about this and I thank you for posting the news on your site, Deacon Kandra. Sounds like a beautiful location and one that can be enjoyed by those of all faiths.

  2. Corresponding to my recent comment on the chaplains for atheists story: once again the arm chair warriors over at the Pentagon have proved just how detached the massive military bureaucracy is from its actual mission.

  3. PAGANS/WICCANS/DRUIDS: To be ignorant is to be blissful in this life. Children, wake up and smell the roses. THINK. Roses did not give you a will and an intellect. Roses are a creation from God. Until you wake up, you will remain asleep.

  4. The chaplains are our worst enemies here – spoiling the children. It’s time to remove a few chaplains and take some stripes. We shouldn’t be paying people to be incompetent and irresponsible and political.

  5. In tripping all over himself to showcase his tolerance, the good rabbi is also exhibiting his utter contempt for the First Commandment.

    He and the Jewish cadets to whom he supposedly ministers would all be far better served if he’d do the honorable thing and find himself a different line of work.

  6. Frank,

    Military chaplains are required to minister to people of _all_ faiths. Not to provide worship services for them, but without discrimination outside of worship services. In that context, the rabbi was doing his job, since his duties are not limited to Jewish cadets. And while our faith differs markedly from these cadets’, how can it be wrong to support the creation of a space in which others may find their way to God? Not all understand that concept the way we do, but they may get to Him anyway.

    And perhaps you’re unaware that in recent years the Air Force Academy has at times been a place where evangelical ‘Christian’ cadets have harassed and bullied those of different beliefs, or who exhibited what they perceived as insufficient zeal, including Catholic cadets. The institution will likely benefit by being forced to stretch in this regard.

    Besides, in the end, to us it’s a circle of rocks, arranged at miniscule cost. Why do we have any business getting riled about all of this?

  7. Lynn,

    In ministering to those outside of their faith, military chaplins are not required to do so in a manner that spits in the face of their own faith tradition, such as by confirming neo-pagans in their rock worshiping ignorance. Not only is that a betrayal of their own tradition and of the cadets who share that traditon, but it is being grossly uncharitable toward the neo-pagans who are stumbling in the darkness.

    Your unhappy defense of taxpayer funding for sorcery is a gross caricature of where relativism is taking us.


  8. Frank,

    Freedom of religion is considered pretty important in this country. So important that we allow only a very, very few restrictions on it. The chaplain was doing his job, and it involved no betrayal to either his tradition or the cadets of his faith. His _failure_ to support providing cadets a suitable place would have been a betrayal, as would his refusal to try to persuade one of these cadets who came to him seeking to explore the faith traditions _we_ follow. But the critical difference is where the process starts, namely, it has to begin with the cadet.

    Please mind whom you’re accusing of gross caricature. If I expect freedom to practice my faith, I have to make sure everyone else has the same.

  9. Lynn,

    Freedom of religion is precisely why the rabbi chaplin has absolutely no constitutional obligation, whatsoever, to condone sun worshipers, in utter defiance of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In doing so, he is bowing to a Ceasar run amok; he is a coward and a fraud.

    Your line of relativistic-reasoning-on-steroids would see a couple of cadets of Aztec descent having a legitimate cause for the building of a pyramid on campus, and the extending of an invitation to a local abortion clinic for human sacrifice candidates, all under the approval of the academy’s Catholic chaplin.

    Lynn, your liberality is not nearly as sophisticated as you like to think it is.

  10. Frank,

    You know nothing at all about what I think about my reasoning. Nor do you know much at all about whether my leanings are liberal, conservative, or something else that fits neither word well.

    And you appear to know very little about what obligations and responsibilities military chaplains have. Obligations that they take “freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.” That last is a direct quote from the oath sworn by all officers in US service, by the way. The rabbi was not condoning the faith of these cadets, he was condoning providing them an appropriate place to practice it. The distinction is not a subtle one.

    Your comment about human sacrifice candidates is beneath contempt and leaves me without any inclination to further conversation with you. ‘Bye.

  11. Why is his comment about Aztec human sacrifice “beneath contempt?” You end the conversation because your own ridiculous position has hit it’s inevitable wall. If a cadet of Mexican descent approaches the air force and claims to be a follower of Aztec worship practice and requires and altar on which to perform, even animal sacrifice, how do you respond? Do you tell him that he is “beneath contempt” and run and hide?

  12. Jason,

    Bringing abortion clinics into the conversation was beneath contempt. And you’ll note that I made reference to a few restrictions on religious practice in my first post.

    Now, I leave because it’s about time to put on my uniform and go on duty protecting your right, and Frank’s right, to hold such a narrow view as to think that only the God of Abraham’s worshipers should be granted freedom of religion in the military.

  13. Lynn,

    You surely realize that abortion has been legal for almost four decades under the government in which you serve, and which we’re both subject to, and, courtesy of Doe v. Bolton, it is so virtually without restriction. Why, then, would it be off the table and beneath contempt for purposes of my theoretical? The point is that you cannot reconcile in your own mind the natural end of your own reasoning which defends a rabbi participating in accommodating rock worship.

    If that quote from the officer’s oath that you laid on me is supposed to be the coup de grace of your position, then you probably should’ve quit when you were less behind. How on God’s green Earth do those generic words translate to the chaplin checking his or her own First Amendment rights at the gate?

    I do thank you for your service, but I have to hope that wild-eyed political correctness hasn’t so infiltrated our military that that’s where you’re getting your tragic ideas from.

  14. Frank — The thing about freedom of religion is that it extends even to religions that do not worship the God of Abraham — meaning that Buddhists, Hindus, Druids, etc. have a right to practice their religion. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “The right to religious liberty is … a natural right of the human person to civil liberty … . This natural right ought to be acknowledged in the juridical order of society in such a way that it constitutes a civil right.” (2108) The Catechism also speaks, at 842, 843, 847, 848, and 851-856, of the respect due to other religions.

    This does not extend to tolerating such things as human sacrifice or polygamy.

  15. So..self-described pagans must be allowed to spend taxpayer dollars to fund a worship space according to their preference in the name of “Freedom of Religion”, yet the Boy Scouts must be denied access even to public lands merely because they dare mention moral values and won’t allow gay persons to be BSA leaders.

    In other news, pagan and secular interests freely state precisely what they wish in private and in public and make plain their intent to enact law based on those views, but Christians nationwide suffer, loud, proud condemnation for even commenting that homosexual behavior could be sinful or daring to mention Judeo-Christian precepts in public.

    Precisely who are we fooling here?

  16. Lynn is correct.

    “Freedom of religion is precisely why the rabbi chaplin has absolutely no constitutional obligation, whatsoever, to condone sun worshipers”

    That is true. A jewish Rabbi walking down the street has no such Costitutional obligation. But THIS Jewish Rabbi is a Major in the Air Force. And his miltary orders are quite different and very specific. He will serve all miltary personnel of all faiths. That goes for all chaplains.

    Chaplains are militaryy officers first. If that creates any tensions between their religion and their ability to follow military orders, then they shouldn’t join the military. They do not have unfettered discretion on how they perform their military assignments. As is true for all service personnel, there are restrictions on First Amendemnt rights.

  17. @ John Flaherty (17)–Your comment is so confused, illogical, and filled with false equivalencies that it would be pointless to try to refute it, but I would like to ask: are you a “self-described catholic?” We are talking about people’s religion here. The term “self-described” is patronizing and dismissive, and their religion deserves the same upper-case treatment as yours.

  18. @Makarios,
    We are, indeed, talking about people’s religion here.

    Perhaps I wasn’t clear, but my point lies thus: I, as a taxpaying citizen of the US, have a right to be concerned about the use of taxpayer funds. Seems to me there’s reason to expect that differing groups motivated by religious principles will be allowed access to public lands and use of public funds essentially equally, UNLESS one or another can be proven to create a fairly immediate public threat.

    This has not happened.

    @Unapologetic Catholic
    You’re quite correct that a chaplain is a military officer first. Regrettably, that’s precisely why I never quite trusted the chaplain corps. If a Catholic priest could fail to tell me the whole Truth, why would I expect a non-Catholic chaplain to know or care enough about Truth to advise me competently in spiritual matters?

    Unfortunately, this may be a prime example of how diversity may be a severe detriment to the nation as a whole. This, other policies, and DADT’s repeal, may enhance the spiritual differences amongst our military leaders..and widen the gulf between military and civilian.

    Can we truthfully expect military and civilians to act as honorably as we think they ought as the gulf grows wider?

    I wonder.

  19. Lynn Thomas #6: Well said. Some folks have a hard time realizing that religious freedom is not just for those that think like they do.

    John F: When did the BSA become a religious organization?

  20. Well, John Flaherty, all I can say is that you’ve made a very good argument for the eliminaition of all military chaplains. There’s no principled reason why some recognized religions are allowed chaplaisn and others are not. It’s very much an all or nothing thing. That’s the rule.

    Since you don’t even trust Catholic chaplains to be able to do their job, then maybe we’re just better off eliminating the entire concept.

    The conclusion that chaplians can’t possible do their job within the limitations of the military is frequently pointed out by atheists. You seem to agree wholeheartedly with that position.

  21. *sigh*
    This is why I dislike dealing with this sort of issue. Too many people don’t quite understand the idea.

    Well anyway….
    pagansister, Boy Scouting, while not a religious organization per se, HAS none-the-less professed certain ideals based on religious principles. ..And they have a complete right to so, including on public lands and in the public square. Those who insist otherwise generally demonstrate a wish to force any sense of religious sentiment out of the public square. THAT is a violation of the First Amendment, regardless of what Justice Blackmun might’ve thought.

    Unapologetic Catholic, I commented that I hadn’t trusted CIVILIAN priests to tell the whole story; why would it be a surprise that I’d be skeptical of chaplains? That is, by the way, a real problem. I don’t believe the chaplain corps should be eliminated at all; rather I think they ought to be allowed to express what their faith actually teaches, not what the secular mob wishes them to be allowed to say.

    In short, joining the military should NOT be cause for one to be barred from expressing religious sentiments while on duty.
    Why would anyone bother to join a military service to defend a nation if when they’re not allowed to express their own beliefs in public? That simply makes no sense.

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