Schriever AFB Gives Special Promotion to Christianity
At Schriever Air Force Base east of Colorado Springs, and unfortunately at many installations around the country, Bible Study continues to the main effort for chaplains. MAAF has reached out to the Air Force Chief of Chaplains on multiple occasions to discuss this issue, but there seems to be no interest at all in resolving or even addressing the issue. These chaplains are promoting Christianity exclusively and not even being honest about what flavor of Christianity is being promoted during these events. Arguably worse is that after an initial report, the only change was to mask the event further by billing it as “leadership study based on the Bible” in some apparent attempt to justify promoting it beyond the appropriate optional-only sectarian religious context. It would be encouraging one day to see action on the part of chaplains sponsoring events for humanists and other nontheists. Chaplains seem to be putting almost all their resources into fervent and exclusive promotion of Christianity.
What sorts of services are your chaplains advertising?
Do they follow or violate the guidelines below?
Send the good news too.
original bible study sent to all personnel from command group leaders:
All you need is a bible and willingness to study God’s word. The format will be a discussion led study beginning with the book of Ephesians. Childcare will not be provided but do not let the lack of childcare hinder your attendance. Just give us a call and we will explore options as necessary.
updated ‘leadership’ study posted alone with a large display in a major entryway and emailed to all personnel from the chaplain:
Looking to enhance your leadership skills, here’s your opportunity!!! The chapel is sponsoring a leadership study based on lessons from the Book of Nehemiah. It is a faith-based study with life-changing insights and lessons on leadership. It takes place on Tuesdays from 11:30- 12:30. Feb. 10, 17, and Mar. 3, 10, inside the Satellite Dish dining facility (the reserved section). The session on Feb. 24 will take place in Bldg. 300, room 146. Bring a friend. Please come a little early and get your food.
Locally at Schriever AFB, the obvious Christian bias is eliminating any opportunity for the individuals speak to their chain of command. Internal, low-level resolution of issues would be nice, but whistleblowers can only expect ostracism and retribution when the command is giving special privilege only to Christianity. More importantly, this is about command policy more than any one individual’s feelings. The original email issue was presented to representatives of the AF Chief of Chaplains Office, in person, as early as January 14th, over a month ago. After several requests for resolution by email or phone, the only action at Schriever or to MAAF seems was the “leadership” study. That simply puts the wolf in sheep’s clothing.
There are lots of great ways to include Christian services and to provide support, but that should be done with honesty, integrity, and fairness. That is not happening so far. Proposed guidelines (posted previously) for religious emails to ALL PERSONNEL distribution lists:
1. from the chaplain (not the commander, commander’s secretary, or any non-chaplain staff)
2. non-sectarian language (there must obviously be some, but very limited if any scriptural references, evangelical mottos, prayers, or encouragement to faith). Free speech would apply to a great extent for personal emails and signature blocks, but for the content of a mass email, sectarian language is inappropriate.
3. denominational identification / truth in advertising (identify clearly the denomination of the leader and the denominational focus of the event. Non-denominational isn’t. Bible study is Lutheran or Methodist or Atheist, not just “Bible Study”. One chaplain published a study of “Jewish Proverbs” but really meant an Old Testament study by a Christian.) Also, prayer breakfasts should clearly identify the denomination (and endorser if applicable) of all scheduled speakers especially the keynote.
4. diversity in each message (dates and times for all services provided with short, neutral descriptions not special promotions for certain events or a single email dedicated to one event)
5. diversity across communications (among various emails, care should be taken to ensure not all are Christian)
6. limited frequency (daily or even weekly emails would imply special command emphasis on chapel attendance. A monthly message from the chaplain’s office with upcoming events and regular services should avoid any inappropriate promotion or religious practices, and a chapel website could hold up-to-date information.)
* “very limited if any” in italics in point 2 above was changed from “no” in the original proposal.