For some reason the Washington Post felt obligated to print this on its op-ed pages this morning, the latest of a long number of snide, whining pieces from a supposedly agrieved Christian, complaining about how misunderstood and maligned he and his cohorts are for wanting to coerce the nation's children to pray and to require us all to bow in homage to whatever monument conservative Christians want to place on every street corner.
As I've said before, as a daily-Bible-reading, practicing Christian, I find the religious right and its arguments repugnant, silly, unhelpful, and offensive to the degree that they attempt to define my religion and dictate what and how Christians should respond to issues in the public square.
But that isn't why I chose to reference this latest piece of Christian-right demagoguery.
Instead, I mention it because I want to compare it to this, which appeared in today's same Washington Post, on page 3, in the reporting section of the paper. Apparently, there are concerns that there is a hostile religious climate at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado*. Only the hostility is not towards evangelical Christian "people of faith" as the organizers of last week's Justice Sunday broadcasted around the country, but rather, by radical evangelical Christians towards Jewish, non-radical evangelical Christians, and non-Christians service members. The climate includes but is not limited to proselytizing from the front of the classroom and from the academy's chaplains, and hazing-like shaming rituals for those that don't adopt the radical evangelical line. To look into these concerns, which go back a number of years according to academy alumni, the Air Force has established a task force.
In what I am sure is only coincidental, the article also noted as an aside that two years ago, the Air Force was beset by accusations of the sexual abuse of its female service members. It is no doubt a coincidence only that a military institution happens to face charges of sexual abuse of its female service members and the evangelical coercing of both its female and male company. I have no doubt that it is merely a coincidence that the conservative, traditional, hierarchical evangelical Christianity that disdains the rights and progress of women would be dominant at an institution that has also experienced problems of the sexual abuse of women (which as we know is not about sex but about power).
I'm sure that this is all a coincidence.
And is there also a coincidence between the op-ed column arguing that we need to let the State establish the conservative's evangelical Christianity throughout the land, and the fact that the sexual abuse of women has been occuring in an institution that is also reported to be guilty of religiously bullying its members?
A coincidence? I report, you decide.
*Colorado Springs, Colorado also happens to be the haven of James Dobson's Focus on the Family militia "ministry". But I'm sure that the proximity between the Air Force Academy and the Focus on the Family compound and the religious climate at the former is purely coincidental.
Update: Here's a great post from Juan Cole on religious freedom. Although it's based on Pat Robertson's comments on This Week, it also has a lot to say about the subject of this post.