Southern Baptists Admit That They Oppose Religious Equality In The Military
Well, it doesn't get any clearer than this. In an article from the Baptist Press, the news arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Southern Baptists have finally come right out and admitted what we at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) have known all along -- they oppose religious equality in the U.S. military.
Beyond just getting many of the "facts" wrong in the article, titled " Air Force Academy dogged by anti-Christian pressure," shows the true colors of the Southern Baptist Convention when it comes to religious freedom, stating, as if it's a bad thing, "Not only does the academy now provide worship space for all, it requires all cadets to complete religious respect training." Really? The Air Force Academy accommodating cadets of all religions and teaching religious respect is a problem? Well, maybe if you fancy yourself to be among America's "persecuted" Christians and consider religious pluralism a threat to your religion.
The article uses what has recently become a very popular talking point to shock its readers -- the Air Force Academy spent $80,000 on a pagan worship area. According to Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary professor Daniel Heimbach, quoted in the article: "… something is grossly out of proportion when the institution dedicates a $80,000 outdoor worship center to only serve 3 cadets. … All of which leads me to wonder what in the world can explain dedicating such a large and expensive worship center for only 3 cadets. This is driven by something more than simply equity. It is something powerfully religious that is non-Christian, non-theistic and 'Earth-based' with deep pockets and a lot of political influence."
Well, first of all, the outdoor worship area did not cost taxpayers $80,000. Seriously, have any of these people using this talking point actually stopped to wonder how putting a circle of rocks on a hilltop could possibly cost $80,000? Of course not. They just keep repeating this so-called "fact" to shock their audiences. The truth is that this money was already being spent on a project that had nothing to do with the worship area.
The boulders that now form the outdoor worship area were moved from the hillside to the hilltop as part of an erosion control project that was already underway. Erosion had made these boulders a safety hazard, in danger of falling down the hillside and crashing into the Academy's Visitors Center and Cadet Chapel, so they were moved from the hillside to the top of the hill. When the 10th Civil Engineer Squadron moved the rocks to the top of the hill in spring and early summer of 2009, they arranged them in a circle.
Months later, when the pagan lay leader at the Academy was looking for a suitable site for a worship area, he realized that there already was one -- the circle of boulders that had been moved to the top of the hill during the erosion control project. All that needed to be added to the already existing site to turn it into a worship area was some flagstone to make a floor and a small altar in the center of the circle. So, no, the Academy's outdoor worship area didn't cost anything even close to $80,000. The only other significant expense has been the installation of security cameras, made necessary when some nice Christians decided to send a message by placing a large wooden cross at the site. (Anyone seeing a need for that religious respect training?)
Second, here in the good old U.S. of A., religious equality is not based on the number of adherents to a particular religion, although those "persecuted" Christians seem to think it should be, incessantly citing their large majority as the reason they shouldn't be persecuted (although just how such a large majority can cry about being the persecuted class while at the same time citing their majority status is a bit hard to wrap the brain around).