The original photograph shows a large advertisement for a Vacation Bible School on a US Navy base. Transportation is included. Equality is not.
I’m not sure which base this photograph came from, but it’s far from an isolated incident. Here’s a write-up in the Periscope, an in-house PR rag for Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay – built on coastal Georgia.
“Up, up, and away!” This familiar phrase sets the tone the 2012 Vacation Bible School program.
The Command Religious Program of the NSB Kings Bay Chapel invites your children to be a part of this year’s Vacation Bible School entitled Sky – Everything is Possible with God. Children who have completed kindergarten through fifth grade are invited join in the fun 9 a.m. to noon, June 25 to 29, at the chapel. There is no cost for VBS but there is limited space available. Families are encouraged to register early to avoid missing out on this high-flying adventure.
Each day will begin with the VBS passengers arriving at the Sky Terminal where they will review their flight plans for the day. In Up and Away Sing and Play”students will meet Bible Buddies like Pat the Bat and Scout the Eagle and learn fun movements to upbeat Bible songs. Most importantly, they will learn that no matter what people do, no matter who they are and no matter how they feel they can always trust God.
Bible lessons throughout the week will focus on New Testament accounts of faith in Christ. Students will study the life of Christ, His resurrection, and the encouraging words He left with His followers. These important lessons will be presented through dramatic play during Wild Bible Adventures time, the videos adventures of Chatter the Chipmunk, and fun-filled outdoor activities like Skydiver, Parachute Protection and Cloud Movers.
Of course, a high-flying VBS like this would not be complete without delicious snacks served from Skydive Diner. At the end of each day the VBS passengers will land back to the Sky terminal to sing more lively songs, review the day’s lesson, and rehearse the Bible verse of the day.
These Vacation Bible Schools are common. Fort Bragg’s annual VBS has been happening for 50 years. They proselytize to kids, and teach kids how to do it to others. One of my friend’s kids brought home an innocent permission slip that barely mentioned what it was for. Her teacher said “have your parents sign it and return it.”
I lobbied the relevant people at Bragg for equal treatment (hosting a camp quest!) The Religious Support Office was initially eager to work with me, but within a few weeks they realized I was serious. They stopped returning my emails. So I went around them altogether.
Fort Bragg is the only military base in the entire world that provided some form of equality. It was a hard fight, and took 18 months. On March 31st, I had kids ‘walking on water’ (non-newtonian fluid) right in front of the main post chapel. Amy Monsky from Camp Quest South Carolina put on an epic alternative to evangelical bible camp as part of the Rock Beyond Belief festival.
My efforts to have Fort Bragg endorse, support, or otherwise advertise Camp Quest on a continuous basis have fallen on deaf ears. Luckily, the success during RBB has inspired multiple people to dig in. I’m leaving the base, but others are picking up right where I left off.
Camp Quest West has pledged similar support for RBB2!