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Friday, 17 June, 2005
'Religious bullying' at US academy
By Matthew Wells
BBC News, Colorado Springs
Cadets at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs celebrate graduation on 1 June 2005
The academy trains cadets to become Air Force officers
The sprawling campus of America's elite Air Force Academy is silent for the summer holiday, but the din surrounding its role as an alleged hot-bed of religious intolerance is only getting louder.

The sprawling campus of America's elite Air Force Academy is silent for the summer holiday, but the din surrounding its role as an alleged hot-bed of religious intolerance is only getting louder.

For months now, unsavoury stories have circulated — first in the local media and now nationally — of cadets at the academy, situated at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, being bullied and discriminated against by evangelical Christians.

The academy, already rocked by a rape and sexual abuse scandal, has admitted that all is not well.

Authorities have received more than 50 complaints from students who felt they were being inappropriately proselytised.

A few months ago, a religious respect and awareness course was established which all 9,000 cadets and staff are expected to attend.

But critics both inside and out are saying that it is nowhere near enough to resolve a problem they say is systematic and endemic.

'Preyed upon'

One man leading the charge is Mikey Weinstein, a graduate of the academy who served in the Reagan White House.

His eldest son is also a graduate, and his youngest son had been there just a few months when he complained of abuse from evangelical cadets.

Mr Weinstein said his son had complained of being called an "f-ing Jew" and was told Jews were responsible for "executing Jesus".
Air Force Academy chapel, which combines a synagogue and Catholic and Protestant chapels
The academy chapel is built to cater to several religions

Mr Weinstein said 117 people had given him examples of abuse.   Only eight of them were Jewish, he said — the rest were Catholics, Baptist, Lutheran, Episcopal, Presbyterian and Methodist.

"There're not used to being preyed upon... by their evangelical brothers and sisters.   But that's exactly what's happening."

Mr Weinstein believes that some senior officers are so heavily involved in a culture of intolerance — and the rest are so blase about what is going on — that the entire academy leadership should be replaced.

A Yale Divinity School report and a liberal group, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, cite many examples of alleged abusive behaviour by evangelicals.

Examples include placing "Passion of the Christ" flyers on every place-setting in the mess hall to frogmarching cadets who fail to attend chapel into their barracks.

'Abuse of uniform'

There are more than a dozen chaplains who look after the religious and counselling needs of cadets, and one of them — Captain Melinda Morton — says she has been punished for breaking ranks to complain that the problem merits more far-reaching measures than those proposed so far.
Air Force Academy Chaplain Captain Melinda Morton
You are free to evangelise as you want, out there on the street and in your churches. But you are not free to use the uniform
Chaplain Captain Melinda Morton

Capt Morton claims she has become an outcast since she complained.   She has also been demoted, and is due to leave for a new post in Japan shortly.

"You are free to evangelise as you want, out there on the street and in your churches," she said.

"But you are not free to use the uniform, and the power and rigid structure of the military to propagate your ideology.   The constitution says no."

The fact that Colorado Springs is home to some of America's most powerful evangelical Christian organisations has exacerbated the situation, she said.

"Many of them have particular goals when it comes to people in uniform, that they are there to teach and encourage those folks to use their power and their position in the military," she added.

Focus on the Family — perhaps the most powerful lobbying organisation on the Christian right — is over the road from the academy.


Colorado's largest evangelical mega-church, the New Life Church, sits on a hill just a few kilometres away, looking down onto the academy grounds.   Its pastor is Ted Haggard, president of the 30-million-member National Association of Evangelicals.

He boasts his own huge congregation of 11,000.

"Liberal movements in America treat people like they're stupid," said the man whose national prominence means that he talks to President George W Bush most weeks.

"Are we saying that we want those students to understand representative government... but they can't understand religious discussion?"
Portrait of Pastor Ted Haggard
Why in the world would we adopt a view that freedom of speech applies in every area except religion?
Pastor Ted Haggard
New Life Church

"Proselytising causes people to improve their argument, and exposes false arguments.   Why in the world would we adopt a view that freedom of speech applies in every area except religion?"

Pastor Haggard says he believes cadets should be robust enough to withstand passionate evangelising.   He denies systematic evangelical links to the academy.

At the academy itself, senior officers are refusing interviews before an internal Air Force inquiry into the allegations concludes later this month.

The academy's head of communications, Johnny Whitaker, was willing to discuss the issues, but denies an orchestrated campaign by evangelical Christians.

"We know we have issues within the cadet wing.   We know we have issues on the staff and faculty... There are problems throughout the organisation," he said.

"Is it pervasive? We don't know that.   We're taking this fairly seriously.   A lot of it is just ignorance of the rules and insensitivity."

One of the other chaplains is Phil Guin, a United Methodist.

He said he can't imagine any evangelical cadets calling their Jewish classmates "Christ-killers".

"The picture has been painted that we're holding a big tent revival here," he said.

"It's not that at all."

'Against national values'

Events are also being followed closely in Washington and the national editorial pages.

Democrat Congressman Steve Israel represents a district in Long Island, New York.   He serves on the Armed Services Committee, and he fears that many evangelicals at the heart of power are happy to bend constitutional principles to suit themselves.

The problem, he believes, starts at the very top.

"Sometimes I think the president and some of my colleagues in Congress have forgotten how this country was founded," he said.

"It was founded by a group of people who fled state-sponsored and sanctioned religious intolerance.   Now you have that very example unfolding at the US Air Force Academy," he said.

The argument looks set to rumble on.

Gay fetish: the infinite shelf life of homo- distraction

Katy McKy - Raw Story Columnist
Published: January 30, 2006

The sky isn't falling, but it's fraying. The ozone, that blanket of O3 between oblivion and us, dissolves when we spray fluorocarbons.   The oceans rise.   Divorce rates also rise, as more and more Americans, especially in the red states, emulate Britney Spear's matrimonial habits.

Then there's more.   According to Sir James Lovelock, the original Gaian guy, the Earth is treating us like a virus, raising the temp to burn us off the global body.   With every factory closing, we become more a nation of consumers and borrowers rather than producers and savers.   And we're borrowing 2 trillion dollars to fund our Iraqi imperialism.   Via that imperialism, we've cultivated a fresh crop of terrorists.   We're running out of oil, but we're running high on gluttony.   And so on.

And what worries the Right?   Brokeback Mountain.   And gay marriage.

As a college class exercise, a friend of mine recently interviewed a classmate.

My friend asked, "What don't you like about America?"

The 18-year old classmate said, "Off the record, gay people are taking over."

What has taken over is the discussion of gay people.   Whereas I consider the civil rights of gay people to be fundamental to the American dream and a requisite for Constitutional integrity, I consider the Right's ad nauseam appetite for gay-themed diatribes to be a deadly diversion.

Janet Parshall, the talk show host, said on the January 17th edition of Larry King Live, "After all, I think what we're witnessing, Larry, is the homosexualizing of America."

What most recently wadded up Parshall's panties and shoved them so far up her rectum that it'll take a proctologist to remove them is Brokeback Mountain.   It's a semi-mainstream movie and it has Parshall squawking that the sky is falling.   Well, Ms. Parshall, the sky is fraying.   The oceans are rising.   So is the temp.   And what worries you?   Make-believe amour between a couple comely sheepherders?

The hunky horror, the hunky horror.

Parshall and others assert that homosexuality is sin.   Thus, if one is straight and frames homosexuality as sin, it's the sweetest sin, for it's not one's sin.   This gives homosexuality an infinite shelf life.   It's never grows stale, for whereas it demands change of others, it requires no personal change.   No sacrifice.   So long as one is straight and heterosexuality demarcates purity, one is permanently pure.

Thus, such Right-thinking straight people can use homosexuality as their fetish object for moral masturbation.   It would be merely creepy if it didn't keep the Right from the work of weaning ourselves off oil, decreasing the production of gases that accelerate global warming, equalizing education, delivering healthcare to all children, and so on.

On a personal level, the gay moral fetish distracts from Biblical adherence.   As long as Rush Limbaugh rants about queer folk, he's distracted from returning to his first wife, as the Bible demands.   As long as Parshall squawks about Brokeback Mountain, she won't have to forsake her family and her fortune, as the Bible also demands.

Perhaps the homophobe should pay gay people for their perpetual diversion.   One pays a cable provider for the television shows that distract us from the work of our time and the deprivations of the future, for as oil prices, the oceans, and the temperature rise and rise, quality of life will fall and fall.   So, shouldn't the homophobes of the Right pay gay folks for distracting them from their patriotic duties and their Christian duties, since those duties are hard and their distraction means that their children and grandchildren will bear the brunt of massive debt and monstrous drought?

Like the 18-year old who believes that what's wrong with America is that "gay people are taking over," when you can hold back your rising worries with a sturdy dyke, life is good.   For now.

But gay people do more than distract.   They pander to our inveterate desire for an other.   Queer people are the divine other, for homo-bigots believe that they have Biblical clearance to hate.

"Yes, uh, Flight 2002," they imagine God saying, "you have clearance to land on the civil rights of your fellow homosexual citizens.   On final approach, you might run into some Constitutional interference, but tune that out and when you taxi over to the tarmac, we'll, uh, amend that Constitution."

The homo-fetish also serves an ancient purpose.   It's no longer safe to publicly articulate racial hatred.   But there remains a deep desire to define and elevate oneself by what one isn't.   With God's green light, the fundy Right references gays everyday.   However, with only 3 gay references in the Bible, and a hundred times that number of warnings against wealth, the arithmetic suggests that the real work of being a Christian is casting off wealth.   Jesus told one story about a man going to Hell.   That man was a rich man, a man who lived on the sweet side of a wall while a poor man suffered on the other.

But walking away from wealth would be Hell on Earth for those that love manna more than their fellow man.

So, thank God for gay folks.

JUNE 10 - 16, 2005    

The New Blacklist
Corporate America is bowing to anti-gay Christian groups’ boycott demands

Spurred on by a biblical injunction evangelicals call “The Great Commission,” and emboldened by George W. Bush’s re-election, which is perceived as a “mandate from God,” the Christian right has launched a series of boycotts and pressure campaigns aimed at corporate America — and at its sponsorship of entertainment, programs and activities the Christers don’t like.

And it’s working.  Just three weeks ago, the Rev. Donald Wildmon’s American Family Association (AFA) announced it was ending its boycott of corporate giant Procter & Gamble — maker of household staples like Tide and Crest — for being pro-gay.  Why?

Because the AFA’s boycott (which the organization says enlisted 400,000 families) had succeeded in getting P&G to pull its millions of dollars in advertising from TV shows like Will & Grace and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.   P&G also ended its advertising in gay magazines and on gay Web sites.  And a P&G executive who had been given a leave of absence to work on a successful Cincinnati, Ohio, referendum that repealed a ban on any measures protecting gays from discrimination was shown the door.

“We cannot say they are 100 percent clean, and we ask our supporters to let us know if they discover P&G again being involved in pushing the homosexual lifestyle,” growls the AFA’s statement of victory over the corporate behemoth, “but judging by all that we found in our research, it appears that our concerns have been addressed.”  The Wall Street Journal reported on May 11 that “P&G officials won’t talk publicly about the boycott.  But privately, they acknowledge the [Christer] groups turned out to be larger, better funded, better organized, and more sophisticated than the company had imagined.”

But the P&G cave-in to the Christers is only the tip of the iceberg.   In just the past year and a half, AFA protests and boycotts — or even the simple threat of boycotts — have been enough to make a host of American companies pull their ads from TV shows the Christers consider pro-gay or salacious.  Desperate Housewives has lost ads from Safeway, Tyson Foods, Liberty Mutual, Kohl’s, Alberto Culver, Leapfrog and Lowe’s after the AFA’s One Million Dads campaign targeted the show’s sponsors.   Life as We Know It got the same AFA treatment — and lost ads from McCormick, Lenscrafters, Radio Shack, Papa John’s International, Chattem and Sharpie.

And it’s not just programs on the broadcast networks and their local affiliates that are feeling the heat from the Christers.  When the AFA targeted Comedy Central’s South Park, the popular cartoon satire saw ads on the show pulled by Foot Locker, Geico, Finish Line and Best Buy.

Nissan, Goodyear and Castrol stopped running ads on The Shield after AFA complaints.  Sonic Drive-In pulled its ad support from The Shield after a single e-mail request from AFA’s Rev. Wildmon.   S.C. Johnson and Hasbro ordered their ads taken off He’s a Lady when it got the AFA treatment.   And the list goes on . . . Call it a new, 11th Commandment: “Thou shalt not advertise” if the religious primitives smell sin.

Just two weeks ago, the AFA undertook a new letter-writing campaign aimed at Kraft Foods (makers of Oreo cookies, Maxwell House coffee, Ritz Crackers and the like) for supporting the “radical homosexual agenda.”  Kraft’s crime?  It’s a corporate sponsor of the 2006 Gay Games in Chicago.

Founded in 1980 by Dr. Tom Waddell — a 1968 Olympic decathlete — these Gay Games VII will bring gay athletes from all over the world to the Windy City for a complete catalog of Olympic-style competitions.  The honorary chairman of the Chicago Gay Games?  The city’s mayor, Richard Daley, who declared that he is “committed to the success of the 2006 Gay Games because it is an expression of international goodwill and a celebration of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities, which are important to Chicago.”

But, following the AFA’s lead, another Christer group — the Illinois Family Institute (IFI) — has asked its members to take on Kraft and five other Illinois companies that are sponsoring what it calls the “Homosexuality Games.”  Proclaimed the IFI: “By allowing their corporate logos to be used to promote the ‘Gay Games,’ Kraft, Harris Bank and other sponsoring companies are celebrating wrong and destructive behaviors, and showing their disdain for the majority of Americans who favor traditional morality and marriage.”

Here’s a nice touch: The IFI’s Web site features a statue of Abraham Lincoln, who some historians now credibly say was gay or bisexual.  Will Kraft stand up to the pressure?  The company’s answer to this protest campaign is, for the moment, yes — but for how long?

All across the country, the Christian right and its allies in the culture wars are mobilizing — sometimes spurred on from the top by the AFA, Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council and similar national groups, but with increasing frequency local pressure campaigns and boycott threats are self-starters.

They target everything from local broadcast outlets and local cable operators to libraries, bookstores, playhouses, cinemas and magazine outlets.  “The Christian right is incredibly mobilized,” says Joan Bertin, executive director of the National Coalition Against Censorship, a 30-year-old alliance of 50 nonprofit groups.   Bertin says, “There’s been an explosion of local book and arts censorship — a lot of activity by an emboldened grassroots, who think they won the last election on moral grounds.   They barely need to threaten a boycott to get those they target to back down — hey, nobody had to threaten to boycott PBS to get them to back off Postcards From Buster.”

Bertin affirms that “This new threat from below as well as above has already achieved a widespread chill” on creative and entertainment arts throughout the country.

A good example of successful up-from-below pressure in making corporate America bend the knee to the Christers: the Microsoft Corp.  Earlier this year, under pressure from a local protest led by Ken Hutcherson — a conservative National Football League linebacker turned preacher — Microsoft made a decision to stay neutral in the fight over legislation in Washington’s state Legislature banning discrimination in employment against same-sexers, although many other companies headquartered in the state took positions in favor of the bill.

But after an avalanche of counterprotests to Microsoft about their cave-in to Hutcherson, from their own employees (many of whom are gay), gay groups and the blogosphere, Microsoft reversed itself and supported the anti-discrimination bill.  Too late: Two weeks earlier, the bill had been defeated by just one vote in the state Senate.   Now, Microsoft is being targeted by a new, national Christer protest campaign for having flip-flopped again.

Martin Kaplan, director of the Norman Lear Center at the Annenberg School of Communication at USC, calls the new Christer offensive a drive toward “theocratic oligopoly.  The drumbeat of religious fascism has never been as troubling as it is now in this country,” adding that “e-mails to the FCC are more worrisome to me than boycotts” in terms of their chilling effect.

Even The New York Times is feeling the chill.   At the beginning of May, an internal committee of 19 Times editors and reporters, who’d been asked how to improve the paper’s “credibility” with a wider swath of America, came up with a key recommendation: ­Deliberalize the paper’s news columns, ­especially through more coverage on religion from a sympathetic point of view.

The committee’s report, “Preserving Our Readers’ Trust,” added that “the overall tone of our coverage of gay marriage, as one example, approaches cheerleading.   By consistently framing the issue as a civil rights matter — gays fighting for the right to be treated like everyone else — we failed to convey how disturbing the issue is in many corners of American social, cultural, and religious life.”

Oh, “disturbing” to whom?  Why, to the Christers, of course — whose e-mail complaint campaigns against the Times are legion: It’s the paper the fundamentalists love to hate.   So why is the Times — one of the few newspapers in the latest available study of circulation released earlier this year to significantly increase circulation rather than lose it — feeling the need to kowtow to the religious opponents of gay marriage?  The paper’s willingness to do so is about as frightening a testimony to creeping theocracy as one could imagine.

Is the new Christer anti-gay and anti-sex crusade a back-to-the-future nightmare?  Remember your history: In the 1950s, the anti-Communist owners of a small chain of supermarkets in upstate New York started threatening the TV and radio networks with boycotts of sponsors’ products if they employed any persons listed as supposed Communists or lefties, in a sloppily researched little pamphlet called “Red Channels.”

It didn’t take long for this small protest to instill fear throughout the broadcast industry, and the result was the Blacklist, a witch-hunt that lasted for years — even after John Henry Faulk, the blacklisted star CBS-radio host and actor, won his landmark $3.5 million libel suit in 1962 against the blackmailers of AWARE Inc., which — for a suitable fee — offered “clearance” services to major media advertisers and radio and television networks, investigating the backgrounds of entertainers for signs of Communist sympathy or affiliation.

But Faulk didn’t work in national broadcasting for another 13 years, until he landed a spot on the TV series Hee-Haw in 1975.  It took that long to end a quarter-century reign of terror in the entertainment industry, 18 years after Senator Joe McCarthy was dead and buried.

Today’s Christer protests are targeting a different kind of subversion.  Chip Berlet, senior analyst at the labor-funded Political Research Associates, has spent over 25 years studying the far right and theocratic fundamentalism.   He is co-author of Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort.

Berlet — who was one of the speakers at a conference last month co-sponsored by the N.Y. Open Center and the City University of New York Graduate Center on “Examining the Real Agenda of the Christian Right” — says that “What’s motivating these people is two things.  First, an incredible dread, completely irrational, of a hodgepodge of sexual subversion and social chaos.  The response to that fear is genuinely a grassroots response, and it’s motivated by fundamentalist Christian doctrines like Triumphalism and Dominionism, which order Christians to take over the secular state and secular institutions.  The Christian right frames itself as an oppressed minority battling the secular-humanist liberal homofeminist hordes.”

The key to those doctrines is what fundamentalist religious primitives call the Great Commission, which is basically an injunction to convert everyone to Christianity.  In the Bible (Matthew 28:19-20), it says, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you . . .”  The fundamentalist interpretations of these and other texts can be found on evangelical Web sites like, and   They have incredible motivating power for the religious right, and help explain the vehemence of the Christers’ intolerance of the freedom of others to think or act differently.

Says Berlet, “The re-election of Bush was a sort of tipping point for these people, who take it as a mandate from God — they see that the leadership of America is within their grasp, and when you get closer to your goal, it’s very energizing.   It reaches a critical mass, in which the evangelicals feel they have permission to push their way into public and cultural policy in every walk and expression of life.”  All that, says Berlet, is what is motivating the skein of Christer boycotts, protest campaigns and censorship drives bubbling from the bottom up — which get added emotional and pressure power from the fund-raising-driven crusades launched by political Christer organizations like AFA at the national level.   The confluence of from-above and from-below is a powerful mix.

There’s one big problem: Nobody at the national level is tracking these Christer censorship and pressure campaigns in a systematic way, to quantify them or assess their impact, so that strategies to defeat them can be developed.   “People for the American Way used to track this stuff, but they stopped doing so systematically in 1996.   We at Political Research Associates would love to do it,” says Berlet, “but we don’t have the resources.   Groups like the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute or Americans United for Separation of Church and State could easily do this sort of work.   But none of us has the money to do it, because nobody wants to give it.   There used to be three major journalists writing about this stuff — Sara Diamond, Russ Belant and Fred Clarkson.   But none of them could make a living doing it, and they’ve all dropped out of the game.”

Unless Hollywood, and the entertainment and broadcast industries, all want to live through an epoch of increasing content blackmail and blacklists, the wealthy folks who make a lot of money from those industries better wake up and start funding intensive and systematic research on the Christian right and its censorship crusades against sexual subversion and sin in the creative arts — or soon it will be too late, and the “theocratic oligopoly” of which Martin Kaplan speaks will be so firmly established it cannot be dislodged.

DOUG IRELAND can be reached through his blog, DIRELAND, at

Homeland Security Solicits Help! [SPY ON YOUR NEIGHBORS]

I’m not here to discuss the merits of the new Homeland Security mirage.  I must admit that having served in the Military for 10 years, I was always taught the duty of the Defense Department was to protect the homeland.

But now we can all take comfort in the fact that our newly alloted tax dollars are well at work.

Our fearless Homeland Security Leader Michael Chertoff believes using Americans to spy on each other is a great idea.

We just ask non-profits to report suspicious activities to our department and we’ll check on it, he says.

Nothing like getting as many of your prying neighbors involved in defending the Motherland as possible.

Although, it may help in the neighborhood relations department as each neighbor could hold the threat of ’reporting’ you to Mr. Chertoff (That names almost sounds Russian to me) if you mow your lawn to early in the morning or let your children get to loud.

I would hope Americans are slowly awakening to the fact that the freedoms we once had are disappearing faster than your tax dollars can be sent overseas.

I would hope that Americans are getting a strong whiff of the ’winds of change’ that are sweeping the land under our current leadership.

As I’ve stated before, with leaders such as the ones we have now, who needs enemies?

On a sidenote, looks like we have a movement stirring to create a tax funded borders-protection agency as well.

The lack of brains in Washington never ceases to amaze me.

I just can’t figure out if the ’lack of brains’ are our leaders or the voters supporting them?

Homeland Security Solicits Help! [SPY ON YOUR NEIGHBORS]

Yes this is a psy ops and old proven technique of stopping a coalition from forming against a tyranist regime.

You give some of the people — those in support — mindless law enforcment jobs to go out and tattle tale on their neighbors.

This is to stop open descent from forming and to align the thinking with the propaganda agenda which is the "war on terror" which is an excuse to dominate the common person and to elevate the interests of the political elite to destroy opposition to their addiction to profit, death, and domination in the face of sane protest and reestablishment of united people around the ideals of love and peace.

This has happened before and if we want to stop it.

We need to educate the mind of children not just with how to read but how to stop lies and the death that they embrace.

Remember you can go no higher than your lowest ideals.

And that would be profit of war for the destruction of social liberty and freedom of thought and expression, as I see it.

They believe in money and that is death, money is not alive, it is an abstract concept of valuation, and right now they are devaluing US, get IT.




For archives, these articles are being stored on website.
The purpose is to advance understandings of environmental, political,
human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues.