LOS ANGELES TIMES – Air Force Academy adapts to pagans, druids, witches and Wiccans

Selected Article Excerpts:

  • In the still of a cold November evening, a small gathering of pagans, led by two witches, begins preparations for the coming winter solstice. But these are not just any pagans, and this is not just any setting. They are future officers of the United States Air Force practicing their faith in the basement of the Air Force Academy’s cadet chapel.
  • …the academy this year dedicated an $80,000 outdoor worship center — a small Stonehenge-like circle of boulders with propane fire pit — high on a hill for the handful of current or future cadets whose religions fall under the broad category of “Earth-based.” Those include pagans, Wiccans, druids, witches and followers of Native American faiths.
  • In 2005, the Air Force — still reeling from accusations of sexual assaults against female cadets at the academy — was accused in a lawsuit of allowing aggressive proselytizing toward non-Christians. The suit, ultimately dismissed, was brought by an attorney and academy graduate, Michael Weinstein, who founded the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and has continued to fight what he calls a climate of religious oppression at the academy.
  • Weinstein isn’t buying this new spirit of “Kumbaya.” He says he has received hundreds of complaints from cadets who allege pressure by other cadets or superiors to profess faith in Christ and cites a desecration incident in 2010 when a cross was left at a previous Earth-based worship site. The Air Force condemned that incident, and it was never discovered who was responsible.

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