Evangelical video shows cadets pressured to be missionaries
A video made by Campus Crusade for Christ, a Christian ministry group, shows Air Force Academy cadets being pressured to participate in religious activities and become "government paid missionaries when they leave."
Mikey Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), which released the video this week, says the video is "absolutely out of control."
"You cannot engage the U.S. government to propel your religion," said Weinstein.
The video, filmed in the summer of 2002, opens with tranquil shots of "Colorado's most frequently visited man-made attraction." The unnamed narrator describes the chapel in detail, which "resembles a formation of fighter jets shooting into the sky."
While the narrator says that students receive a "well-rounded education" at the Academy, the video focuses mainly on how stressful the environment is and not so subtly suggests that cadets can find solace in religion.
"I do a lot of counseling ... like any other college campus, there are a variety of needs that arise... spiritually and emotionally," says Major John Dider, who "considers himself a chaplain first."
"Our purpose for Campus Crusade for Christ at the Air Force Academy is to make Jesus Christ the issue at the Air Force Academy and around the world," says Scott Blum, the former Academy Campus Crusade for Christ director, who had no previous military experience but -- according to the video -- always "knew that God called him to invest in the lives of military men and women."
As a Church choir sings in the background, the video's narrator asserts that "each year, cadets are recognizing God's call which will make an impact in the present ... and for eternity."
Weinstein says the video is only one item on a "long menu" of unconstitutional evangelism going on in the military. The MRFF compiled
a six month investigative report in 2007 on the Christian group, focusing on the group's Fort Jackson "God Basic Training" that they allege teaches the recruits that "when you join the military, you've really joined the ministry."
An Air Force Academy spokesman, who said he has not seen the video, said the Air Force Academy has pledged to defend religious rights.
"We've worked actively to remind our people to respect others, and we make sure we offer a wide variety of [religious] services," the spokesman said.
This video is from Global Pastors Network, filmed in the summer of 2002.