Evangelicals exploit Air Force Academy; military officials interlocked with local activists
By Devlin Buckley
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Dec 23, 2005, 00:50

Four Air Force officers -- all graduates of the Air Force Academy's
U.S. Air Force Academy Class of 2008, Swearing In Ceremony
class of 2004 -- have recently joined a lawsuit that accuses leaders at the academy of overtly pressuring cadets to undertake evangelical religious instruction. The original lawsuit was filed in October by Mikey Weinstein, a former Air Force officer and graduate of the academy, whose son experienced religious discrimination while attending the school.

Controversy over the influence of Christian fundamentalism at the academy is nothing new, and the lawsuit is only the latest development in an ongoing struggle -- the source and extent of which have been largely underreported by the corporate media -- among evangelical organizations, academy leaders, congressional lawmakers, and First Amendment advocates.

The Air Force Academy, located in Colorado Springs, is surrounded by right-wing evangelical groups, several of which maintain close relationships with the academy's faculty, staff, and cadets. These groups and the military officials who follow them have been integrating evangelical Christianity into official academy activities for at least 12 years. Over this time, they have promoted evangelical beliefs to cadets, used their religion as a tool for military training, and encouraged religious conformity on campus.

'Spiritual Gettysburg'

In addition to being headquarters for Air Force Space Command, Northern Command, NORAD, numerous Air Force bases, and the Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs is also home to the nation's largest, most influential and politically active evangelical organizations: James Dobson's Focus on the Family, which is so large that it maintains its own zip code, claims more than 200 million followers worldwide, and is located directly across the highway from the academy.

Dobson, who is one of the most powerful and influential religious leaders in the world, believes the Supreme Court is guilty of "the biggest holocaust in world history"; regularly denounces "judicial tyranny" against Christians; and has gone after the creators of Sponge Bob Square Pants and many other cartoons for "promoting a homosexual agenda to children." Most recently Dobson has been in the news for receiving "inside" information regarding failed Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers' willingness to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Also situated on the far north side of Colorado Springs is New Life Church, where it was built, in part, so it could be seen from the Air Force Academy. [1] Sporting Air Force colors, the silver and blue megachurch, along with its leader Ted Haggard, are there not just to be seen, but to aggressively recruit new members for what they believe to be a "spiritual war" of epic proportions.

Haggard, who many consider to be more influential than Dobson, meets with President Bush or his advisors every Monday and leads the nation's most powerful religious lobbying group: the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), which claims about 45,000 churches consisting of 30 million members nationwide.

Haggard's influence deserves notice because he preaches that wars, disasters, and other tragedies are opportunities for spreading evangelical Protestantism throughout the world [2] and that the end result of globalization will be a final spiritual battle between Muslims and evangelicals. "My fear," he told Jeff Sharlet of Harpers Magazine, "is that my children will grow up in an Islamic state."

For this reason (see above link) Haggard believes "spiritual war" requires a military component. He teaches a "strong ideology of the use of power, of military might, as a public service" and supports preemptive war because he believes the Bible instructs Christians to proactively abolish sinners. He told Sharlet he believes in violent warfare because "the Bible's bloody. There's a lot about blood."

One New Lifer who spoke to Sharlet thinks of Colorado Springs as a "spiritual Gettysburg" -- "a battleground between good and evil." He believes God called him to Colorado Springs and says many of the people he knows, including those working at the surrounding Air Force Bases, feel the same way. [3] "I'm a warrior for God. Colorado Springs is my training ground," he said.

Focus on the Air Force Academy

The religious organizations of Colorado Springs, which literally surround the Air Force Academy, have been influencing school activities and interacting with academy officials and cadets for over a decade.

When the Focus on the Family headquarters opened in 1993, the academy's parachute team, the Wings of Blue, participated in the opening ceremony by delivering "the keys of heaven" to James Dobson's new facility -- directly from the sky. [4]

During official Air Force Academy reunions, graduates are invited to the Focus on the Family headquarters for a tour that promotes James Dobson's religious/political views and encompasses a video portraying Dobson as a hero receiving accolades from such figures as Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush.

Leaders from Focus on the Family and New Life Church are regularly invited to attend Bible Study programs on campus, and every week, New Life Church dispatches vans to transport between 100 and 200 cadets to and from Friday night services. According to Pastor Aaron Stern of New Life Church, these cadets are encouraged to hand out fliers at the academy and recruit new members.

Captain Melinda Morton, who until recently was the executive officer to the chief chaplain at the academy, said while she was there chaplain activities and events exclusively focused on "conservative Christian evangelical ideology" and used only "local and national evangelical presenters and resources."

Conversely, the former coach of the academy's football team, Jim Weidmann, is now executive director of Focus on the Family's Family Ministries and is also vice chairman of the Focus on the Family National Day of Prayer Task Force.

The current coach of the school's football team, Fisher Deberry, while promoting his book, "For God and Country: Foundations of Faith," received help from Focus on the Family, as well as George H.W. Bush.

"Coach DeBerry defines 'winner' not just because of his records and victories on the gridiron, but as much for his character and faith", says former President George Bush. "What a great American!'"

In his book, DeBerry describes openly how his "Christian beliefs coincide with his career of preparing young men to defend their country and possibly fight in wars and other international conflicts." In order to motivate the players of the football team, Deberry hung a banner in the locker room stating:

"I am a Christian first and last . . . I am a member of team Jesus Christ. I wear the colors of the cross . . . I am a Christian Competitor and as such, I face my challenger with the face of Christ . . . I rely solely on the power of God. I compete for the pleasure of my Heavenly Father, the honor of Christ and the reputation of the Holy Spirit."

"I don't think you separate religion from normal, everyday life," Deberry said at a symposium in February. "Football, academics, military training -- everything -- all encompasses everything. Religion is a part of life," he said.

Some evangelicals in Colorado Springs have even portrayed the academy as a symbol for the fundamentalist movement in the area. Last
IBS Bible
December, for instance, the Colorado Springs-based International Bible Study distributed copies of the New Testament -- with a picture of the Air Force Academy's cadet chapel on the cover -- in the local Colorado Springs Gazette.

Tom Minnery, vice president of Government and Public Policy for Focus on the Family, said the school's cadet chapel "is not there by accident."

"These cadets are being trained to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country, to meet their maker," he said.

'Legally Actionable Violations'

This spring, Americans United -- a Washington DC-based organization created in 1947 to protect the separation of church and state -- issued a report concluding that religious "practices and policies" at the US Air Force Academy "constitute egregious, systemic, and legally actionable violations of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution."

"[C]omplaints from multiple sources make clear that violations of the Establishment Clause are not merely aberrant acts by a few rogue individuals, but instead are reflections of systematic and pervasive religious bias and intolerance at the highest levels of the Academy command structure." (Their emphasis)

According to the report, numerous former and current cadets have issued complaints, which have been confirmed by academy officials, that the Cadet Wing has been regularly pressured by members of the faculty, staff, chaplains' office, and upper class, to attend worship services, undertake evangelical religious instruction, and proselytize fellow students.

The Americans United report was published less than a year after a Yale Divinity School report, based on first-hand observations, which noted that during one worship service led by Major Warren Watties:

"Protestant Basic Cadets were encouraged to pray for the salvation of fellow BCT members who chose not to attend worship. . . . Cadets were encouraged to return to tents, proselytize fellow BCT members, and remind them of the consequences of apostasy."

According to the report, Major Watties told the cadets the penalty for refusing to accept his encouraged proselytizing would be to "burn in the fires of hell."

Other issues that raised concerns amongst the two groups include:

  • Protestant cadets were commonly told that Jesus had "called" them to the academy as part of God's plan for their lives.

  • Cadets who chose not to attend after-dinner chapel services were made to suffer humiliation by being marched back to their dormitories in what was called the "Heathen Flight."

  • Commission ceremonies for graduating officers have been held at off-campus churches.

  • In December of 2003, in the academy's newspaper, hundreds of staff members -- including the then-dean of the faculty, the current dean of faculty, and 16 department heads or deputy department heads -- expressed their belief that "Jesus Christ is the only real hope for the world" and directed students to contact them so they could "discuss Jesus."

  • The academy commandant, Brigadier General Johnny Weida, a born-again Christian, said in a statement to cadets in June 2003 that their first responsibility was to their God. He has also strongly endorsed National Prayer Day, an event sponsored by Focus on the Family and chaired by James Dobson's wife, Shirley.

  • The academy has provided passes for Christian cadets who wish to attend church services and activities off campus, such as at New Life Church. They, however, have denied Jewish, Seven-Day Adventist, and those with other beliefs, the right to leave the campus for non-evangelical religious services.

  • Several faculty members have introduced themselves to their classes as born-again Christians and encouraged non-evangelical students to convert to evangelical Christianity throughout the course of the term.

  • Staff and faculty members have led prayer sessions at several mandatory school activities, such as academic exams, meals at the dining hall, awards ceremonies, military-training-event dinners, and basic training cadet cadre meetings.

"When we start off some of the most important nights of my cadet career with a religious invocation, I completely disagree with that," a recent graduate said. "I don't think there should be any religious involvement in military activities or ceremonies of any nature like that."

Many other students and staff members have similarly reported that the sponsorship of evangelical Christianity has created an uncomfortable and hostile atmosphere for non-evangelicals.

A cadet survey in 2004 found that more than half of the student population had heard religious slurs and jokes, and many believed evangelical students received special treatment.

One cadet said the academy is "systematically biased against any cadet that does not overtly espouse Christianity."

A staff member who spoke to The New York Times on the condition of anonymity said: "There's certainly an impression that evangelicals here have that the leadership is kind of on their side. And there's a feeling among people who are atheists or people who are other varieties of Christian that the leadership does not really accept them."

According to Vice Commandant Col. Debra Gray, "There were people walking up to someone [at the academy] and basically they would get in a conversation and it would end with, 'If you don't believe what I believe you are going to hell.'"

A Jewish cadet was told the Holocaust was revenge for the death of Jesus and another was called a Christ killer by fellow cadets. The son of Mikey Weinstein, the father who is suing the academy, was called a "filthy Jew," among other slurs.

"It's a shocking disgrace that I had to file this thing," Weinstein told the Associated Press.

Weinstein says he has been contacted by more than 117 current and former cadets, staff, and faculty members who have witnessed and experienced religious discrimination and intolerance at the academy, however many have not gone public because they fear disciplinary action, he says.

When asked if he thought the religious activists in the area were responsible for the problems at the academy, Weinstein said, "it would be counterintuitive in the extremist to presume that there isn't a strong nexus between [the problems and] the incredible amount -- there's over 100 of the nation's largest evangelical organizations in Colorado Springs."

"My problem is not with Judaism, Hinduism, Christianity or even evangelical Christianity," he said. "It's that whenever a religion -- in this case a group of people -- tries to engage the machinery of the state, it is constitutionally repugnant and violative."

Captain Melinda Morton, formally the No. 2 chaplain at the academy, believes she was removed from her position for speaking out against the influence of religious groups at the military school. In May, she said the academy "is surrounded by very powerful evangelical organizations . . . that have a lot of influence at the Air Force Academy and at the White House."

"They have a very clear social and political agenda. . . . The evangelical tone is pervasive at the academy, and it's aimed at converting these young people who are under intense pressure anyway," she said. [5]

Even prior to any reports being published by members of Yale Divinity School and Americans United there were many in the community speaking out against the integration of religion with academy activities. [6] A former Air Force officer and Vietnam veteran of Colorado Springs expressed his concerns in a letter to the commandant, superintendent, and head football coach of the academy:

"What has transpired and continues to transpire despite lip-service to the contrary, is a true bastardization of the US Constitution and an homage to the majority religion.

"The actions and words of the Commandant, Superintendent and Head Football Coach, which appear to me to advocate a total subordination to a brand of extreme Christianity, are a chilling reminder of what can happen when those, enthralled by religious dogma, begin to commingle religion and nationalism which, even according to Pope John Paul II, is a 'dangerous enterprise.'"

In March, speaking out on an Internet forum for the Free Thinkers of Colorado Springs, one town resident wrote:

"Why did the AFA (Air Force Academy) go way out of its way to promote 'The Passion of the Christ' by placing posters all over campus and at every place setting in the dining hall? Why does the AFA have such close ties to the Focus on the Family church group? . . . When [the football coach] put up a poster saying, "I am a Christian first and last . . . I am a member of team Jesus Christ," was [he] spelling out that his loyalty to this nation and its defense comes second to his belief in and service to some religion? Seems so."

As above mentioned, at one point signs were placed on every plate in the Cadet Dining Hall and posted throughout the academy for a Christian-themed program related to the movie, The Passion of the Christ. The flyers stated, "This is an officially sponsored USAFA event -- please do not take this flyer down." [7]

After complaints were filed, the academy turned to Brig. Gen. Johnny Weida to address the problem. This, however, as noted by Americans United and explained below, provides an ideal example of just how engrained evangelical Christianity has become with everyday academy life, and just how difficult reforming the environment may prove to be.

When instructed to advise the Cadet Wing about the fliers, Weida, who incorporates religion with military training on a regular basis, opened his speech with a call-and-response chant based on a Biblical metaphor -- part of a system of code words he has developed to inspire religious nationalism and proselytizing amongst the cadets. [8]

Additionally, according to Americans United, throughout what was supposed to be Major Weida's "apology" speech, a quotation from the New Testament was projected onto several large screens strategically positioned throughout the dining hall.

According to Americans United, "General Weida has cultivated and reinforced an attitude -- shared by many in the academy Chaplain's Office and, increasingly by other members of the academy's Permanent Party -- that the academy, and the Air Force in general, would be better off if populated solely with Christians."

Despite the concerns raised by Americans United, after an internal investigation the Air Force cleared General Weida of any wrong doing and claimed there were no pervasive or systemic religious problems at the academy.

"When those things happen and the chain of command doesn't stop it, it's tacitly approved by chain of command," said Kristen Leslie of Yale, who holds a doctorate in pastoral care and counseling. In this type of atmosphere, she told the Colorado Springs Gazette, "For anyone to differentiate themselves is very problematic and even threatening."

According to the Air Force, perceptions of intolerance were caused by some officials' "lack of awareness" of appropriate behavior and a "failure to accommodate all members' needs." The findings of the Air Force's investigation can be found in this 40 page report, much of which is dedicated to playing down the reports of religious intolerance, while portraying the Air Force's response as prompt and effective.

Representative Lois Capps of California, who along with 45 other Democrats asked the secretary of the Air Force to get involved with the issue, believes the Air Force's probe is a step in the right direction, however she said the report "downplays the full extent of an environment consumed by religious intolerance."

Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY), one of the most outspoken House members regarding the religious problems at the academy, feels the same way. The report "could have been far more forthright than it is," he said. Both representatives believe the academy needs to take immediate and decisive action to remedy the problems.

Attempting Reform

In order to help correct the problems they observed at the academy, the team that first brought the issue into light from Yale Divinity School developed and proposed a program designed to thoroughly teach religious tolerance to the cadets and to make clear the importance of keeping official duties religiously neutral.

However, the program was substantially modified after a visit from the Air Force's chief of chaplains, Major General Charles Baldwin, and, as a result, the program does not teach the fundamental aspects of separation of church and state.

Moreover, Baldwin removed parts of the program that were meant to increase understanding of non-Christian religions, such as Buddhism, Judaism and Native American spirituality, and also took out a clip from "Schindler's List," the 1993 movie on the Holocaust.

Captain Morton, who helped design the original religious tolerance program with the team from Yale, says it has been watered down and is no longer an effective tool for correcting the problems.

Americans United summarized: "firsthand, eyewitness reports confirm that this . . . program is woefully inadequate to address the pervasive problems of official religious intolerance, discrimination, and coercion at the academy."

The classes were further undermined, according to American United, by senior academy officials, who while on official duty have attended religious programs, held by an evangelical Christian group, which define "secularism" and "pluralism" as threats to "the followers of Jesus." In effect, the cadet program has acted to further polarize the academy, as many evangelical faculty members, cadets, and generals now believe their religious rights are being attacked.

"The problem is people have been across the line for so many years when you try and come back in bounds, people get offended," said Lt. Gen. John Rosa. In June, Rosa said the "issue is very insidious" and could take six to eight years to fix.

Facing mounting criticism and congressional action, at the end of August the Air Force issued new guidelines restricting military officials from promoting their religious beliefs. "We will not officially endorse or establish religion, either one specific religion or the idea of religion over non-religion," the Air Force's official statement declared.

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council (a Christian conservative think tank originally founded by James Dobson) believes the new guidelines are a sign that the Air Force is "caving in" to the lawsuit. "These developments raise disturbing questions about the rights of Christians in uniform," he wrote on October 11.

Focus on the Family, in an attempt to reverse the newly released guidelines, has started a campaign aimed at discrediting Yale Divinity School and Americans United. In "Architecture of a Smear," the associate editor of Focus on the Family's Citizen Magazine, Stephen Adams, blames the allegations at the academy on a few radical liberal activists who he believes are attacking the Christian majority.

Calling their millions of followers to action, the Focus on the Family website is asking members to "contact President Bush and urge him to restore the right to religious expression in the Air Force."

"We want to be sure that the president hears that a lot of people are concerned about this, and that [he] should help the Air Force cadre apply these principles fairly and constitutionally," said Tom Minnery, vice president of Government and Public Policy for Focus on the Family.

Minnery believes "there is an anti-Christian bigotry developing" at the school. "We fervently hope that this ridiculous bias of a few against the religion of the majority -- Christianity -- will now cease," he said.

Jim Backlin, vice president for legislative affairs of the Christian Coalition (a religious political group seeking to "change policy and influence decisions" from "the school boards to Washington, DC") says he recently met with the Air Force secretary's general counsel to discuss the issue. "I told the secretary we are concerned that the guidelines as written would have a chilling effect and are already having a chilling effect," Backlin said.

More than 70 members of the House have joined the cause and signed a letter to President Bush asking him to issue an executive order overriding the Air Force's new guidelines. "Christian military chaplains are under direct attack and their right to pray according to their faith is in jeopardy," the letter states.

Rep. Walter Jones, the conservative Republican who wrote the letter, said, "We believe that the Air Force's suppression of religious freedom is a pervasive problem throughout our nation's armed forces" and "it is becoming increasingly difficult for Christian chaplains to use the name of Jesus when praying."

If Bush agrees to issue an executive order permitting chaplains to proselytize, Mikey Weinstein says he will add the president's name to his lawsuit's list of defendants.

As of this writing the only legislation Jones and his colleagues have been able to pass has been highly symbolic in nature, ensuring rights that according to Americans United already existed.

However, although the wording of the guidelines has, for the most part, been upheld, it still remains to be seen if they will be effective at correcting the long-term systematic problems that have become engrained at the academy.

Abraham Foxman, who leads the Anti-Defamation League, said the new guidelines "say all the right things. The major question is, how will be they become a reality? A lot of the people implementing this are the people who violated it."

Also, as The Washington Post recently pointed out, the guidelines "do not say whether Air Force officials can provide office space or other assistance to professional missionaries who train cadets to evangelize among their peers." This is of note because a Colorado Springs-based evangelical group, known as The Navigators, has recently
Cadets follow along during a voluntary Navigators' "SPIRE" meeting. According to Captain Melinda Morton, the academy's SPIRE program, or Special Program in Religious Education, which is limited to Monday nights, should not be confused with the Navigators' efforts to be in continual contact with cadets throughout the week. "This Navigator thing is a whole different thing," she said."
assigned a pair of full-time ministers to the academy where they are doing just that: training cadets to evangelize among their peers. The missionaries are part of The Navigators' Military Ministry, which seeks to "reach the nations of the world through the military."

"The Navigators' mission at the U.S. Air Force Academy is to impact eternity by multiplying disciples through spiritual generations." As a result of the lawsuit, they've attempted to keep their efforts partially secret. [9]

Another evangelical group, which, as of the Air Force's investigation, is still active at the academy (see page 30), is the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), whose mission "is to present to athletes and coaches and all whom they influence the challenge and adventure of receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord". [10] It was FCA's Competitors Creed that Coach Fisher Deberry hung in the locker room to motivate the players of his team. Deberry is a member of FCA's Hall of Champions, which FCA created "to recognize servant-leaders who faithfully served Christ through the vehicle of FCA."

Even further doubt was raised in regards to the Air Force's handling of the situation, when, just weeks after the Air Force's report was published, the Air Force deputy chief of chaplains, Brig. General Cecil R. Richardson, told The New York Times, "We will not proselytize, but we reserve the right to evangelize the unchurched."

His statement closely resembled the Air Force's code of ethics, which, until it was changed in the face of growing criticism, stated: "I will not actively proselytize from other religious bodies. However, I retain the right to instruct and/or evangelize those who are not affiliated.''

"The guidelines are worthless," said Mikey Weinstein. "They're making it up as they go along," he said.

Nonetheless, on October 17, Weinstein offered to settle his lawsuit if the Air Force would agree to a stipulated order in federal court stating that the Air Force will not "in any way attempt to involuntarily convert, pressure, exert or persuade a fellow member of the USAF to accept their own religious beliefs while on duty.''

In an editorial, one writer from Weinstein's hometown said any new rules "must ensure that this policy is not hollow, that it is taken seriously and enforced at the academy. [The academy] must be prepared to take disciplinary action against officers, cadets, faculty or staff who violate it."

"I don't know that the Air Force can show a single instance of any one of its members being disciplined for proselytizing,'' Weinstein recently told the Associated Press. "If this was happening in the private sector, it would last about three seconds,'' he said.

Weinstein said he just wants the Air Force to stop wasting "time, effort, blood, sweat, tears and money'' and agree to uphold the U.S. Constitution.

As of this writing no settlement has been made between Weinstein and the academy. In contrast, as mentioned at the beginning of this article, four officers have actually joined the lawsuit. Second lieutenants' Casey Weinstein (one of Mikey Weinstein's sons), Jason Spindler, Patrick Kucera and Ariel Kayne are all now pursuing legal action against the military school for violating the First Amendment.

They, however, continue to face opposition. In early November, the Alliance Defense Fund (another Christian conservative group founded by James Dobson) filed a motion on behalf of Air Force Major James Glass and Captain Karl Palmberg to oppose Weinstein's lawsuit, claiming it "seeks to silence religious speech in the Air Force."

Additional Notes:

1. From Jeff Sharlet's Soldiers of Christ, published in May of 2005 by Harpers Magazine:

"New Life Church was built far north of town in part so it would be visible from the Air Force Academy. New Life wanted that kind of character in its congregation."

2. This was especially the case during the tsunami disaster in Indonesia because, as Haggard noted during one worship service attended by Jeff Sharlet of Harpers Magazine, the waves hit the "number-one exporter of radical Islam."

While speaking with Sharlet about the tsunami, one New Lifer said he was "psyched" about what God was "doing with His ocean" while another said he wished he could "get in there" because the victims' souls were "ripe."

3. According to Yale Divinity School, academy officials passed this same belief on to cadets:

"Protestant Basic Cadets were commonly told that Jesus has called them to the academy and military life. Protestant Basic Cadets were informed that God's plan for their life included attending the USAFA."

4. While speaking on MSNBC's Hardball, Mikey Weinstein stated:

"I can tell you that, 12 years ago, the famous Air Force Academy parachute team, the Wings of Blue, was sanctioned by some idiot prince at the academy to parachute out of the azure blue Colorado skies carrying -- quote -- 'the keys of heaven' on the same day that James Dobson opened up his campus for Focus on the Family across the highway.

And they landed down on the lawn and they walked over and handed him the keys of heaven. Hello? Does anyone see a problem here? Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, James Madison, hello?"

5. In addition, Morton said Brigadier General Weida has used his position to promote New Life Church's evangelical worship services and theatrical productions to cadets. She also said Air Officers Commanding (AOCs) were "counseling cadets concerning the 'will of God.'" She was especially concerned about the AOCs that "counsel women cadets to abandon the pursuit of Air Force pilot positions because, for women, such activity conflicts with 'God's plan.'"

6. Criticism of the religious influence in Colorado Springs is not limited to the academy. A common bumper sticker in the area reads: "Focus On Your OWN Damn Family."

7. Many have attributed the religious slurs and jokes at the academy to the movie and the way it was promoted on campus.

At the time, groups such as Focus on the Family and New Life Church were heavily involved with the promotion of the movie. While it was still being edited, Ted Haggard and James Dobson, along with 30 other prominent evangelical leaders, were given a private screening in Colorado Springs in order to review the film for Biblical accuracy.

8. See page 6 of AU report and page 16 of the AF report. To symbolize a firm foundation in Jesus, as the New Testament does with a parable about a house built on a rock foundation (see Mathew 7:24-29; Luke 6:46-49), Gen. Weida has trained cadets to shout "Rocks!" in response to a "J for Jesus" hand signal and the phrase "Airpower!" The chant, in addition to inspiring religious nationalism, gives evangelical cadets a chance to proselytize those who inquire about the meaning. Several cadets went along with the chant without knowing the meaning and later said they felt duped after discovering it was religiously based.

9. In a letter to supporters, The Navigator missionaries wrote, "Praise God that we have been allowed access by the academy into the cadet areas to minister among the cadets. We have recently been given an unused classroom to meet with cadets at any time during the day." The postscript stated, "We respectfully request that you not share this letter publicly. Due to the lawsuit recently filed, the contents of this letter are confidential."

In addition, according to Captain Morton, The Navigators "used to have an informal agreement that they could meet cadets in the library." But because it was "too visible," they were asked to stop.

10. Athletes in Action (AIA), which is a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ ("an interdenominational ministry committed to helping take the gospel of Jesus Christ to all nations"), is another evangelical group that has been proselytizing on campus.

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