The Air Force Academy has gotten well-deserved flack in the past for proselytizing problems and being something of a Christian-only club despite the complaints of atheists.
Now, the Colorado Springs Gazette is reporting that a “panel of experts” has okayed a new plan to teach religious tolerance — including First Amendment right
The academy says the two-day Religious Respect Conference wasn’t aimed at silencing critics or reacting to a recently-released survey of airmen there that shows a jump in religious tolerance woes. Instead, they say, it’s part of a program that will teach cadets to embrace religious freedom.
The Rev. C. Welton Gaddy of the national Interfaith Alliance, said while he’s previously criticized prosyletizing at the academy, the new plan will help the academy move on from years of religious tolerance concerns.
The academy’s recent climate survey found that nearly half of non-Christian cadets think their classmates have a “low-tolerance” for non-believers.
The newest curriculum, built in consultation with cadets, is designed to teach religious freedom while assuring non-believers don’t face unwanted proselytizing or discrimination.
“Everybody’s freedom will be increased in the end,” said Jason Torpy, president of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers.
If Jason likes it, I’m optimistic. Though Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation takes the opposite view and says those who have suffered haven’t had their voices heard during this process.
I don’t know why this is so hard to address. The rules ought to be simple enough. Your religious preference shouldn’t help or hurt you in the military. High-ranking officers shouldn’t be forcing their religious beliefs onto everybody else in their command.
Still, this is a positive step forward from the AFA and something that should’ve happened a long time ago.