Saturday, May 26, 2007

Air Force will participate in Christian festival meant to evangelize troops; Says exhibitions, flyovers neutral part of Memorial Day 'observation'

Air Force Academy cadets attend a Monday-night 'Special Program in Religious Education'. The Air Force Academy, located in Colorado Springs, is nearby to several right-wing evangelical groups, including James Dobson's Focus on the Family, which maintain close relationships with the academy's faculty, staff, and cadets. The Academy is currently being sued by former cadets for overtly pressuring cadets to undertake evangelical religious instruction. Controversy over the influence of Christian fundamentalism at the academy has been building for several years.

The Air Force and Army have pulled back from a Memorial Day weekend celebration with a strong religious association...

Stone Mountain Park in Atlanta, Ga., will put on Task Force Patriot Salute to the Troops on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The event is to be part Memorial Day observance, part evangelical Christian celebration. Laser shows and rides will mix with Christian music and speakers, such as the Rev. Peter Marshall.

Both the Army and Air Force had promised a presence at the event. Event sponsor Task Force Patriot, a group whose stated goal is “sharing the fullness of life in Jesus Christ with all U.S. military,” distributed promotional materials describing hourly flyovers including B-2 Spirit bombers, military displays and a performance by the Army’s Silver Wings parachute team.

Read the rest at Army Times

WASHINGTON — Air Force officials are distancing themselves from a Georgia Memorial Day event sponsored by an evangelical group whose mission is to spread Christianity through the military.

The annual “Salute to the Troops” at Stone Mountain Park, being held for the fourth time this Saturday through Monday, is scheduled to include flyovers, a C-17 display, a concert with the service band and other Air Force activities.

But the event also will include numerous Christian speakers and worship services. Lead sponsor Task Force Patriot USA, an evangelical Christian veterans group, had identified the activities as an Air Force-endorsed event and an official part of their 60th anniversary celebrations...

But Air Force officials said they are not endorsing the event, calling the confusion a result of an error made by the organizing groups.

“It is Air Force policy that we remain officially neutral regarding religious beliefs, neither officially endorsing nor disapproving any faith belief or absence of belief,” according to a statement released by the service.

“Any Air Force personnel who may participate in religious activities at Stone Mountain Park will do so in their individual capacities, not representing the Air Force.”

Read the rest at Stars and Stripes