02 December 2005
Perhaps it’s to be expected that Stars & Stripes, the official publication of the U.S. military, isn’t eager to point out the flaws in their own official message about the controversial interim religion guidelines currently directing the prayers of Air Force chaplains. In a report on the guidelines, the outcry they’ve caused, and the likelihood of their being revised to accomodate more public prayer, the military paper glossed over the main contradiction between the ideal state of Academy religion as described by one Protestant chaplain — “a pause in our day to acknowledge there’s something greater than ourselves,” but a higher power, the chaplain emphasized, that he wouldn’t name, as Jesus, Buddha, etc. for any cadets — and the protests from evangelical groups, House and Senate representatives, that the guidelines discriminated against evangelicals by prohibiting sectarian prayers made in Jesus’ name. There’s a fundamental division between the two outlooks on military prayer — either the fluid, and unnaming nonsectarian prayers, or the specific, and therefore exclusively Christian prayers favored by evangelicals — and both are offensive to some: a hard fact that’s not going to go away with a simple gloss-over treatment.