U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY – “Academy responds to cadet community project — Community project will continue, led by Academy Chaplains” and Analysis from Anonymous USAF Staffer/Graduate/Officer

Release Number: 011111

11/4/2011 – U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — The Academy recently received questions regarding an e-mail sent by cadets to cadets calling for volunteers and donations for “Operation Christmas Child,” a toy drive sponsored by Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian-affiliated organization.

Per Headquarters Air Force direction, the Chaplain Corps is responsible for advertising faith-based programs and events.

Upon realizing the oversight, Brig. Gen. Richard Clark, the Commandant of Cadets, immediately asked the Cadet Chaplain Corps to work with the cadets who sent out the e-mail. When brought to their attention the cadets decided to retract the e-mail and work with the Cadet Chaplain Corps on the toy drive.

“This was an oversight by me that has been addressed and forwarded through the proper channels,” General Clark said. “The cadets’ had nothing but good intentions, but this was something that should have started with the Chaplains, not the Cadet Wing. That doesn’t mean the cadets can’t volunteer for the Christmas toy drive, they can participate through the Cadet Chaplain Corps.

Academy cadets regularly volunteer for community programs across the country. In the 2010-2011 academic year, the Cadet Service Learning program had 4,499 volunteers conduct nearly 1,600 projects totaling more than 31,000 hours of service. The Academy has supported various organizations including Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Race for the Cure and Habitat for Humanity in cities like Los Angeles, Phoenix and Houston. More recently, a group of more than 100 cadets travelled to Pierre, S.D., to provide flood relief for residents there.

“Our cadets are outstanding young men and women who consistently give up their time, to include parts of their spring and summer breaks, to help people in need across the country,” General Clark said. “The character of our cadets is second to none.”


Dear MRFF,

While the recent USAF Academy press release certainly places us squarely in Orwell-ville with its timeline and historical revisionism, it is refreshing to actually see someone admit fault.  That’s first step in recovery, right?

Here’s what worries me, though, now that the chaplains are in charge…

1.  Cadet will still use their considerable hierarchical leverage on other cadets to get this done.  MRFF must demand that no pressure by upper class cadets or cadet leadership is brought to bear on subordinate cadets to fulfill this charity drive.  (I have little confidence this will be the case, though)

2.  USAFA must ensure that the Academy’s imprimatur NOT appear on these packages in any shape or form.  Once donated to Samaritan’s Purse, it would be HIGHLY and TOTALLY improper for them to be distributed to the needy (accompanied by SP’s evangelical recruitment spiel) with any indication that USAFA, the Air Force, or the US Government endorses Samaritan Purse’s mission or is in any way interested in converting them to Christianity.  Here again, i have little confidence that the chaplains will be helpful here.

3.  Consistent with the Chief of Staff of the Air Force’s guidance, any work done on these packages should be accomplished off-duty during periods and in locations normally reserved for chaplains’ activities.  Doing these in the dorm hallways, thus making it clear to cadet leadership who does and who doesn’t support the effort is completely improper.  (Again, I know this guidance will be ignored).

4.  Finally, I’m particularly concerned about non-Christian cadets being coerced into supporting this effort by peers and superiors.  That a Muslim cadet should in any way feel obligated or pressured to assemble a charity package that will be used by Samaritan’s Purse as part of the evangelical Christian recruiting is simply wrong.  That this same organization is led by a foam-at-the-mouth Islamophobe like Franklin Graham makes this pressure abhorrent.

Again, USAFA either doesn’t get it, or gets it and refuses to do the right thing.  This could all be solved by choosing a non-religiously based charity as a target for cadet contributions and work.  There are THOUSANDS of worthy recipient organizations out there as evidenced by the Combined Federal Campaign donation listings.  Is it somehow simple coincidence that cadets, with officer oversight, picked the charity of a Christian bigot as the primary target for their holiday service project?  I think not.

Anonymous USAF Academy Staffer, Graduate and USAF Officer

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  1. Jayne Doe

    “Spiel”? “Bigot”? “foam-at-the-mouth”?

    big·ot   /ˈbɪgət/ Show Spelled[big-uht] a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion.

  2. Steve Neely

    Another stirring statement of concern from the Grinch who tried to steal Christmas. Thanks, Grinch.

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