Thursday, April 9, 2009

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The Third Rail: Faith in the Military

The 501st Combat Support Wing Commander at RAF Alconbury, UK, was cleared of charges that she violated the Air Force's religious neutrality guidelines, leveled against her after she sent out a controversial e-mail:

Col. Kimberly Toney, commander of the 501st Combat Support Wing at RAF Alconbury, sent an e-mail on Jan. 16 referring airmen to an "inspirational" video on a Roman Catholic Web site.

The video featured the life of Nick Vujicic, who was born without arms or legs. In the video, Vujicic says he finds his "greatest joy in this life is to introduce Jesus to those he meets and tell them of his (Jesus’) great desire to get to know them personally by allowing him to become their Lord and Savior."

As an active duty Airman, I will refrain from commenting on the Air Force's official actions in this case, except to say that all the Services now live under a relentless microscope. There are now a number of foundations established to prevent any discussion of faith (and especially Christianity) by military officials. We all walk a very, very narrow line, and there is a well-organized "gotcha" campaign prepared to strike at anything even remotely perceived as stepping across it.

For my part, I am known to be relatively open about my faith at work, but I am very careful about personal discussions with my subordinates. This isn't just because of the potential for legal jeopardy, but because I want to avoid any appearance of favoritism or unequal treatment, or any coercion or other sense that I demand or desire conformity to my faith. Not only could these undermine my military mission, more importantly they could undermine my witness for Christ.

So does this mean I hide my lamp or that I am being appropriately shrewd and innocent? I ask myself that question constantly.

6 comments:

  1. GOD WILL GIVE YOU WISDOM Bless you and your family.Peace and joy of GOD to you all. Love poddy.I love Jules stones new dog he will be the master of the house.He He .

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  2. Thank you very much, Raymond, for having brought this fact to our attention. This is a very good example of the so-called "dictatorship of relativism", as the Holy Father Benedict XVI often says.
    Greetings from Rome and Happy Easter,

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  3. I'm an Army brat. Dad is retired military helicopter pilot (2 tours in Nam, 23 years in service), I grew up on Army bases.

    Today's military is not like it was, however as one who has served Jesus in so called "closed countries" where Christian outreach is not allowed (Vietnam & China), there are some helpful lessons learned.

    (1) No need to shout it out when the cops are standing there just wait and do it privately. Jesus met privately with Nicodemous to explain things to him because Nico was afraid of public redicule.

    (2) Below the radar work - works :) Make the most of every opportunity.

    (3) Use private time not office time to do outreach - invite them to your home. What you do at your Saturday home barbacue is not the Militaries concern unless they want to fight the Constitution - if they do want to fight then sue them and you'll win :)

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  4. It's not much easier in the civilian world, either. I retired from the Navy nearly two years ago and went to a civilian organization shortly after I hung up my khakis for the last time. I am sensitive to the anti-Christian bias in my organization, but find ways to display and talk about my faith, nonetheless. For example, when I teach about anatomy or pathophysiolgy (I am a nurse educator) I often bring God into my lecture, for example, just last night I told my students, "God gave us a back up pacemaker in the heart, the AV Node, in case the SA Node gets sick . . . " Or, "God set up a negative-feedback system to maintain homeostasis...").

    I also wear a "precious feet" tie pin, or some other subdued Christian/pro-life symbol.

    But you are correct, our culture seems to look for opportunities to squash Christians beneath their godless rules. But we DO still have the constitution behind us (for as long as THAT lasts), and many who would crush Christianity often simply push the proverbial envelope to see how far they can go to force us into submission.

    And that is why I have said as often as I have said it, and to as many as will listen, unless Christians, whatever our label, lock arms against these servants of darkness, we will surely hang seperately.

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  5. Sigh. I did it again . . . signed in under my wife's account. So sorry.

    rich

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  6. What's new? The agenda to remove anything but a properly authorise and sanitized, superficial Christian 'gloss' from public life proceeds apace. Eventually the goal is to remove us and the values we espouse completely.

    I am ex-service (RAF) and I seethe same here among those who would never dare to wear a uniform themselves. It the forces there are only two avenues; either you are really walking the talk or you are not. There is no luke-warmness allowed. If you live the faith people respect you. If you don't, then do not bother. People will not tolerate a hippocrit.

    It comes from the fact that sooner or later people need to depend on you. they have to belive they can rely on you to be there when they need you. Your yes must be yes and your no, no!
    As the saying goes: "There are no agnostics on a battlefield".

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