About Ready To Give Up On USAFA

Mr. Weinstein, I am a Firstclassman (senior) at the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA). To many who think they know me but actually do not at all, I am considered an “ideal cadet” and stand high in my class in every category. I guess you could say that I’m kind of the leader of an “invisible” group of well over a hundred or so fellow cadets who support everything you and MRFF have done and are doing here at the Academy. You and MRFF are our advocates and champions. I am a Protestant and straight. Most of our group are the same, but some are LGBT and Catholic and a few are of other faiths including atheists and agnostics. I will not say whether I am male or female because I don’t want to give them an edge in ever finding out who I am. I expect you will show this to others and I hope you do.

For a long time you asked us to trust the “system” here at USAFA and take our religious persecution grievances “up the chain” or to other reporting elements. You told us all the time that the Superintendent, Lt. Gen. Gould, and his staff would have our backs and not let anything bad happen to us if we came forward. We told you that was crazy. We told you that many times. Then, when Lt. Gen. Gould refused to make public the “Climate Study” data, after first describing it as positive, and then all the bad information leaked out, we thought that was the final straw. Then, this morning we all saw in “Falcon Clips”, sent all over USAFA from the USAFA Public Affairs people, the hyper “anti Mikey/MRFF” blog submission from something or someone called “[Fundamentalist Christian Air Force Officer's Website Redacted]“? We now know that person to be an active duty USAF Officer and USAFA grad, of course, with about an endless number of axes to grind. USAFA didn’t know that too? Impossible.

That pretty much sealed the deal for all of us. USAFA is now distributing even individual blogger’s pro Christian supremacy sentiments to everybody who exists here? Mr. Weinstein, USAFA is literally overrun with Christian conservative fanatics. And the leadership here either knows this or is ridiculously blind to it. If any of us gave even the slightest indication that we weren’t one of their number, our lives would be even more miserable than they already are due to the fact that we are all living lies here. Despite the Cadet Honor Code we all lie about our lives. We have to. We don’t have a choice. Thus we are all “invisible” to our tormentors. They will never find us. My own parents don’t know. Only my finacee knows and he/she is one of my classmates and a fellow member of our underground group. I keep “Christian” books and “Christian” CD’s in my room so others will be fooled and leave me alone and not suspect that I’m not actually with the USAFA “Christianity is the Only Way” program here, even though I consider myself to be a Christian. Sometimes we got to their “bible studies” or attend SPIRE events and hold our breath that we’re not “outed”. Many of this group I kind of lead do exactly the same things.

It is so much of the total culture here that to object even slightly immediately brands you as suspect. And if you are suspect, then you are in trouble. We all need those discretionary academic instructor points. We all need our AOCs and Wing and Group and Squadron staffs to want to support us. We all want more playing time with our athletic teams. We all need help from “the system” in an infinite number of ways but we will never get that help if we do not appear to be extreme conservative evangelistic Christians in every way. The news article says that you are now back “At war with USAFA”. Join the club.

(Name, Cadet Rank, Cadet Squadron and Cadet Wing Title withheld)

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    2 Comments

    1. Don Branum

      Hi, token USAFA PA guy here. Incidentally, I’m also Pagan. I’m not the one who sent out the clips, but I work next door to the guy who is, and he’s not a hard-core Christian. Far from it.

      The reason that blog made it into the clips is the same reason Pam Zubeck’s blog entry made it into the previous day’s clips — because it’s talking about the Air Force Academy. But my office can’t seem to win for losing: I’ve gotten complaints from people who don’t want to see Mikey mentioned in the clips at all, and now, we have this complaint from someone who doesn’t want to see the other side of the argument mentioned … DESPITE the fact that BOTH articles were relevant to what’s going on at the Air Force Academy.

      Bottom line is this: What’s in the clips does not constitute endorsement by the Air Force Academy. We don’t always agree with what gets put in the clips. But we put stuff in there so that people know what everyone is saying about this little school on the outskirts of the so-called Christian Mecca. If you have a problem with what’s in the clips on a given day, don’t read it … or better yet: read it, refute it, and then submit YOUR blog for the following day’s clips.

      The Air Force Academy is supposed to be a place where ideas and opinions can flow freely. But in order to do that, people are going to have to get over the asspain they feel when they encounter an opinion that’s different from theirs.

    2. Don Branum

      As an addendum to the cadet: Sir or ma’am, you will face a lot of decisions in your career that you’re going to disagree with. Your best option is to use the system to your advantage: file Freedom of Information Act requests if you feel there’s information that should be released. Go to your boss’ boss if you think he’s made the wrong decision and you’re ready to stick your neck out to make the point … but let your boss know that’s what you’re doing before you do it. Only when all of THAT fails should you go to an outside watchdog, IMO.

      Do I agree with General Gould’s decision? Doesn’t matter. He’s not required by law to release the climate survey results, and he’s made the decision not to. His justification is that he’s never released climate survey results from any of his previous command assignments, so why would he do it here?

      I fully support Mikey on his efforts to end religious discrimination throughout the Armed Forces (vested interest, being a member of a minority faith and all). I suspect it’s especially bad in the Army, having talked to Pagans deployed to JB Balad / LSA Anaconda a couple of years ago and having heard about the recent case. If there *is* harassment going on at the Academy, then the folks in Equal Opportunity need to know about it, but I’d like to believe it’s a handful of isolated cases, NOT a systemic problem.

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