Air Force Academy Chapel
A group that rejects any religious belief, thought or practice in favor of “reason” has joined a religious instruction program at the United States Air Force Academy.
Officials for the Freethinkers of Colorado Springs say they want to inspire the “non-religious” cadet to become the “noble animal” he or she can, just as Christian groups seek to have cadets become like Christ, or Jewish students seek to study, know and follow the Torah.
“It is urgent that we replace the emphasis on gods and after-lives with the emphasis on a world we have inherited, and align ourselves with all its living creatures,” the group said on its website. “Our new moral code should not be rigid, as our science is not rigid. It should embody the maxim: ‘To the least harm.’ If our cause is advanced even slightly, it is just possible that we can become the noble animal of which humankind is capable.”
The organization, which operates under the 501(c)3 tax code provision generally used by non-profits such as churches and ministries, recently confirmed it has joined the Academy’s “Special Programs in Religious Education” effort, an umbrella name for extracurricular faith-based programs at the school.
A spokeswoman for the Freethinkers, whose website explains they became a group in reaction to the influence of dozens of Christian organizations with operational headquarters in Colorado Springs, said the group just provides the same support for non-believers as other programs do for believers.
“Non-believers have similar needs for compassion, guidance in their confusion and understanding, to help them develop their worldview,” Rebecca Hale told WND.
She, for example, led a recent discussion on the concept of a humanist celebrant, the differences between atheism and humanism – “sort of like comparative religions for Freethinkers,” she said.
A spokesman for the Academy told WND the groups essentially are student-owned, but there is some “facilitating” by faculty. They allow students who “work 25 hours a day” to get away and discuss some of their concerns, he said.
The school’s religion program had been accused by several, including academy graduate Mikey Weinstein, of providing a platform for evangelical Christians at the academy. He’s filed a lawsuit over it, according to a report in the Colorado Springs Gazette.
“Because freethinkers do not demand conformity to a bible, creed or messiah, and because freethinkers consider revelation and faith to be invalid, we do not accept the authority of orthodoxy or self-proclaimed dictators of morality,” said the organization, which is dedicated to the separation of church and state.
The group lists its own belief structure, which is:
“We resolve to replace gods, devils, angels, and the supernatural with REASON. We resolve to replace antiquated tribal moral codes with REASON. We resolve to replace pseudoscience with REASON. We resolve to replace the prejudice and hatred in religious diatribe with REASON. We resolve to replace religious proselytizing in our public school system with REASON. We resolve to replace ethnic religious atrocity with REASON. We resolve to replace unhealthy religious psychology with REASON.”
In an essay, David Noebel, founder of Summit Ministries, noted that such secular humanism, or another such “reason”-based system, is just another name for a religion.
“According to the local press accounts the Free Thinkers released the following statement: ‘The United States Air Force Academy is to be congratulated for recognizing the need to expand mentoring services to cadets by including the secular as well as the religious,’ Jeff Lucas, a Free Thinker volunteer, said.’
“What Mr. Lucas fails to mention is his humanistic worldview is as religious as Christianity. Didn’t he publicly join the Academy’s ‘Religious Education’ portion of its academic offerings? Certainly he must have had some inkling of what he was doing.
“And when he comes on campus one can bet that his car will be marked with his ‘religious’ symbol – the fish with Darwin’s name inscribed with little feet signifying man’s evolution from the muck or ‘foamy, blue-green algae pond scum,” Noebel wrote.
“It is a competing religious worldview, not just a philosophy or cultural phenomenon,” he said.
“In Nancy Pearcey and Charles Thaxton’s important book, ‘The Soul of Science,’ they note that back in 1893 Thomas Huxley along with a group of scientists and scholars set out to destroy ‘the cultural dominance of Christianity.’ They fully understood that they were replacing the Christian worldview with the Secular Humanist worldview. Says Pearcey and Thaxton, ‘They understood very well that they were replacing one religion by another for they described their goal as the establishment of the ‘church scientific.’ Huxley even referred to his scientific lectures as ‘lay sermons,'” Noebel said.
He said it was WND columnist Ann Coulter’s book, “Godless: The Church of Liberalism,” that brought the issue into focus.
“Coulter leads off her book with, ‘Liberals love to boast that they are not ‘religious,’ which is what one would expect to hear from the state-sanctioned religion. Of course liberalism (her identification of Secular Humanism) is a religion. It has its own cosmology, its own miracles, its own beliefs in the supernatural, its own churches, its own high priests, its own saints, its own total worldview, and its own explanation of the existence of the universe. In other words, liberalism contains all the attributes of what is generally known as religion,'” Noebel said.
There was no word on whether the Freethinkers would be meeting in the academy’s famous chapel, a collection of aluminum, glass and steel spires soaring 150 feet in the air. It already has rooms for Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, and “all-faiths” services.
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