Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Which of these things is not like the other?

I was reading an article today about the Air Force Academy's football coach, and some racial remarks he made this weekend. As I have listened to some news it is clear people considered these racially insensitive remarks evil and the coach was forced to apologize today. Toward the end of an article on ESPN I read another controversy involving the coach is brought up. Last year he got in trouble for his team led prayers, and a poster he hung up in the locker room saying, among other things, "I am a member of team Jesus Christ." He ended up taking down the poster and ceasing his prayers.

The article's author then went on to make a disturbing connection. He wrote, "Claims that chaplains and some academy leaders impose their conservative Christian beliefs on others prompted an investigation by the Air Force, which concluded there was no overt religious discrimination at the school near Colorado Springs but found some cases of insenstivity."

Fair enough. The coach was a part of a controversy last year involving some complaints about Christianity. He's involved in controversy this week about race. Last year he was involved in controversy about religion. I can see the relationship. Both involve the coach. But the article doesn't stop there.

The author then goes on to make an odd connection, "The complaints that some cadets and faculty are evangelizing others follow a sexual assault scandal that shook the academy two years ago when female cadets said commanders punished them when they report assaults. The Air Force replaced the academy's top commanders and put new policies in place." (End of Article)

Hmmmm....... Am I the only one that thinks this is an odd parallel to make? Evangelism and sexual assault? The fact that those two controversies are even mentioned in the same sentence is disturbing. Racism, sexual assault, and Christian evangelism are seen as what's wrong with the Air Force Academy. What a strange world.


sherry said...

Sadly, ignorance breeds assault-like evangelism. Although I see the faulty nature of the connection, I often hear evangelistic attacks. I know that “they” have good intentions, but their emotional connection to belief becomes so strong that “they” stop listening. I can see how racism, zealous evangelism, and assault can be put on the same plane- it’s possible (note: not necessary for evangelism) for each of the three to be fired by ignorance.

I can’t point my finger at “them.” I am doing nothing to counteract their damage. My silence must attack His heart.

Interesting posts, Mark. Thanks.

Mark said...

Thanks for the response Sherry. I agree, and have seen some militant evangelism that is not good. I certainly do not affirm any pressure tactics that may have gone on at the Academy. But cadets evangelizing cadets seems hundreds of moral miles away from sexual assault. It seems you saw that point. In other places I have heard tactful and loving evangelism described as "spiritual rape," "spiritual genocide," and other statements that belie a deep moral confusion (and humanity's rebellion to the gospel).

I can definitely see your point how improper evangelism tactics can be connected to the other two -by ignorance, by insensitivity, and by sinful pride and superiority.

With the Air Force Academy, I think the main problem comes in when it is authority doing aggressive evangelism. Because it is possible for subordinates in that setting to feel pressured to believe. This is obviously wrong. Although I do find it frustraing that I have not read articles about professors at liberal universities being reprimanded for demeaning religion and forcing their anti-Christian views upon their subordinate students.

I'd be interested to see more of your thoughts on how "emotional connection to belief becomes so strong that 'they' stop listening?" That is a compelling phrase. How do you think that works?

sherry said...

I've been in that situation (that's why "they" is in quotes). I wonder how much of the emotional zeal was more of a desire to be right than a conviction of my beliefs. I got tears in my eyes as I spoke of my beliefs, but I think it was because I wanted so badly to believe that I was right. Not only that, but I lacked (lack) the skills to communicate the Truth, so I got defensive. It was a one-way conversation; they turned me off and I kept talking.

Mark said...

Interesting. I have definitely seen what you are talking about, and participated in it. I have also noticed that the more compelling person in a debate is usually the one that stays calm and asks more questions. Thanks for your insights.

sherry said...

Definitely. I've especially seen this on overseas trips when the pressure to share is so intense. I remember trying to never mention God around an international friend because I was trying to make up for the in-your-face attitude of one of my teammates. I wanted to prove to her that I genuinely wanted to be her friend and I ended up never sharing with her.