by JewsOnFirst.org, February 13, 2007
The leader of a fundamentalist Christian faculty organization at the U.S. Air Force Academy brushed off the headline-grabbing investigation of religious coercion by the school's faculty, attributing the probe to complaints by one individual. In a presentation to a Campus Crusade for Christ faculty conference last June, Air Force Academy Professor James Pocock assured his audience that, absent an activist individual, an investigation of religious intolerance was unlikely at their schools.
Pocock then went on to detail how successfully the Christian Leadership Ministries (CLM), which he leads at the Academy, has organized the faculty and staff -- and how important it is to proselytize at the school.
CLM is the faculty arm of Campus Crusade for Christ.
Mikey Weinstein credited
The individual Pocock mentioned in his presentation is Mikey Weinstein, an academy graduate who is suing the Air Force to force it to institute policies respectful of religious minorities. The lawsuit is based on Weinstein's two sons' experiences of anti-Semitism and religious coercion at the Academy. (You will find more details at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which Weinstein established to preserve constitutional guarantees of religious freedom in the armed forces.)
Pocock, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who continues to teach at the Academy, said his CLM group involves 170 faculty and staff at the institution. He said CLM regards military officers as an important target and particularly appreciates the fact that Academy graduates go all over the world.
In his presentation Pocock boasts that one-third of the Academy cadets are involved in religious activities.
Weinstein's book, With God on Our Side, and his lawsuit recount numerous instances of coercion and intolerance by fundamentalist evangelical Christians at the Academy. He recounts how his investigation determined that top Academy leaders protected the religious activists -- even in the midst of congressional scrutiny.
Pocock dismissed the ground-breaking investigative reporting of Pam Zubeck for the Colorado Springs Gazette as repackaging news releases from Weinstein. He encouraged his audience to contact reporters with their side of the story.
Pocock concedes possibility of offense to Jews
In a single concession to critics of religious intolerance at the Academy, Pocock tells of having second thoughts about a full-page newspaper ad for Christmas, entitled "Jesus is the Reason for the Season." First, he acknowledges, the signatures of many high-ranking Academy leaders on the ad might have a coercive effect: "A non-Christian might feel he won't do well" in his career.
And Pocock also conceded that a slogan on the ad saying "Jesus is the only way" might be "somewhat offensive to a Jewish person."
He said CLM has "decided not to do this for a while."
Listen to Pocock's recorded presentation below.
The website for the Christian Leadership Ministries conference, "Two Tasks," held in June 2006, is here.