Update on the Air Force Academy Discrimination Issue

UPDATE: Yet another twist in the Air Force Academy discrimination issue has surfaced. A top Air Force Academy chaplain said Thursday she was fired for speaking up about anti-Semitism and other reports of religious intolerance among cadets and staff. Read the AP article HERE.

I first wrote about this story back in December, but the issue has been in the news again and a lot of readers expressed concern about this.

To recap, the Academy has had numerous complaints of religious discrimination over the past four years. The alleged problem is that evangelical Christians wield so much influence at the school that anti-Semitism and other forms of religious harassment have become pervasive. It’s gotten pretty nasty too. A Jewish cadet was told, “the Holocaust was revenge for the death of Jesus and another was called a Christ-killer by a fellow cadet.”

Here is a newer story from the Salt Lake Tribune that goes into more detail about the charges, and what is being done about them.

Also, Rabbi Arnie Resnicoff, a retired Navy Chaplain visited the Academy on a special mission to evaluate the situation. The following is his response:

I can tell you that the Air Force Academy itself, as well as the highest levels of Air Force leadership-including the Acting Secretary of Defense and the Air Force Chief of Staff-could not be taking this matter any more seriously than it is now doing. I personally traveled to the Air Force Academy at the personal request of the Chief of Staff, Gen. Jumper, and the then-Secretary of the Air Force, Dr. Roche, and was part of a briefing to the Secretary and the leaders in a number of areas related to this issue, including the Air Force Chief of Chaplains and the highest representatives in the area of Equal Opportunity. I was given a chance to preview and make recommendations regarding the new seminar on the importance of religious sensitivity in which all Academy cadets will participate. I have personally (along with others) made recommendations to areas including Core Values, character development, and the Academy Honor Code, all of which are now being reviewed. As I write this email to you, on April 26, I know that an extremely high level meeting will take place tomorrow, at the Pentagon, to brainstorm additional ways to deal with issues of religious sensitivity, freedom, and respect. Since my visit to the Academy, not a single day has gone by when I have not been contacted by someone on the staff of the Secretary of the Air Force or the Chief of Staff for input on these issues.

Americans often have very little patience, and want magic wands or magic bullets. Quick fixes rarely last long. There is a serious (and, I would add, wise) effort in place at the Air Force Academy to deal with issues of gender discrimination and sexual abuse. Although the Air Force wants constant progress, they understand that it will take 5-7 years for a complete “culture change,” which is their goal. The new seminar on religious sensitivity and respect is only a first step in what will be just as serious an effort to ensure that the Air Force leads the way in terms of respect in the area of religion.