Sunday, November 21, 2004

A theocrat gets the message:

Air Force Coach to Remove Christian Banner

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. - The Air Force Academy's longtime football coach has agreed to remove a Christian banner from the team's locker room after school administrators announced they would do more to fight religious intolerance.

Coach Fisher DeBerry agreed Friday to remove the banner, which displayed the "Competitor's Creed," including the lines "I am a Christian first and last ... I am a member of Team Jesus Christ." ...


I assume this is the banner in question, the work of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. The text of the banner begins:

I am a Christian first and last.
I am created in the likeness of God Almighty to bring Him glory.
I am a member of Team Jesus Christ.
I wear the colors of the cross.

I am a Competitor now and forever.
I am made to strive, to strain, to stretch, and to succeed in the arena of competition.
I am a Christian Competitor and as such, I face my challenger with the face of Christ....

This is a freaking prayer, a prayer to the Christian God (or one notion of that God). Is it literally unimaginable to this coach that one or more of his players might be atheist or Jewish or Muslim, and thus might feel excluded or offended by this?

The hero of the story is the academy superintendent, Lieutenant General John W. Rosa, who is putting a stop to this and other practices that made the academy seem like a place where non-Christians are second-class citizens. The Denver Post's Jim Spencer explains the problem:

Since August, when plans for tolerance training began, the academy has identified 55 incidents of religious bias dating from 2000, said academy spokesman Lt. Col. Laurent Fox.

The complaints, Fox said, included a cadet who anonymously reported being called "(expletive) Jew" and "Christ-killer."

Academy officials have no knowledge of an incident, reported in the Colorado Springs Gazette, that non-Christian cadets in basic training were forced to march in a "heathen flight," Fox said....

Spencer says this about General Rosa:

Rosa is neither a heretic nor a patron of political correctness. He's a warrior who understands that religious one-upmanship undermines his troops.

When he looks at his wingman, Rosa has said, he doesn't care what religion, race or gender he sees. He's looking for someone to carry out a mission.

Sounds good to me.

The right-wing WorldNet Daily is eyeing all this warily, especially a decision to prohibit cadets from making Bible quotes part of their e-mail signatures. But that's not very different from a workplace rule that restricts political or religious advocacy on office and cubicle walls that are visible to other workers. I'd consider a rule like that reasonable at my workplace even if it meant I had to hide any signs of, say, support for John Kerry. Why isn't this acceptable to Christian conservatives? Do they really believe there should be no limit to their proselytizing -- even in a shared community such as a school (and a government-run school at that)?

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