04 November 2011

Another "controversy" at USAFA

Early this week, a first-class cadet sent out an email to the entire cadet wing asking for help with Operation Christmas Child. When I saw it, I thought, "I don't think they can do that," but deleted the email and moved on.

The email was approved by the Vice Wing Commander. I thought nothing of it until today, when I heard of the controversy it sparked. Apparently, 132 people emailed Mikey Weinstein of the so-called Military Religious Freedom Foundation about Operation Christmas Child. According to Fox News Radio, one cadet said, "This just shows how our military is supporting on religion - Christianity."

 "The military" isn't supporting Christianity. One or two cadets made a mistake; USAFA senior leaders were unaware of the project. By sending out a wing-wide email about the program and making a staff tower announcement, the cadets implied government endorsement of a Christian charity.

"According to the [endorsement] test, a government action is invalid if it creates a perception in the mind of a reasonable observer that the government is either endorsing or disapproving of religion" (Wikipedia). As firsties and leaders in the Cadet Wing, the cadets in question are government actors. Therefore, in the course of their duty, they must not endorse a particular religion. As Operation Christmas Child is clearly a Christian charity, they cannot endorse the charity - and now they know their mistake.

 So, let's leave it at that. This place is a leadership laboratory, after all.


  1. Nate: Your comment is so reasonable, and yet, those who are offended by Christianity will want to pursue this "offense" because it somehow advances their agenda.

    For me, I see nothing wrong with individual members supporting "Operation Christmas Child" or "Operation Muslim Child" or "Operation Any Child."

    From my experience military folks have a heart for children and want to help them. The fact they choose a charity with a religious name should be a matter of their personal First Amendment rights. Military folks give up a lot and in some cases probably a civil right or two, but this is, in my humble opinion, a wrong application of the separation of church and state.

    The federal government current, as in today, supports with tax money using Christian, Jewish and probably other religious organizations to do good works and help people. It's called "faith-based" projects and they are everywhere.

    Keep up the good blogging.


  2. well put, but at the same time it makes me mad that it was blown out of proportion into something that brings bad publicity on USAFA and the Military. This is something that, instead of going Mikey, Mikey! look at this. that they could have approached as a concerned cadet and handled in house. I feel like the way it was approached was full of cowardice and the real victims are going to be the kids.

  3. Thanks for the comment, Jim.

    To clarify, the problem is not that the name of the charity includes the word "Christmas." It's that OCC includes the Gospel message in every box.

    Thus, all cadets were encouraged to take part in sharing the Gospel.

  4. Agreed, Mike. Like I said, a cadet made a mistake. I'm sure that if a cadet simply replied to that email and pointed out the error, it could have been corrected quickly. Or a concerned cadet could have talked to the Chaplain or their AOC.

  5. Got it Nathan. That, I can see, might be an issue. But as you pointed out still kind of overblown. Thanks for clearing that up. From a sailor to an airman - have a great Veteran's Day, I'll be thinking of you and all those currently in service. Jim