An Even Perspective in Persecution

By Kersley Fitzgerald

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Weinstein and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation have taken many calls from cadets and staff who say they feel threatened by evangelical Christian leadership, but they also initiate action based on their own feelings. Currently, they're involved in two different issues with the Air Force Academy. One involves the oath of honor—the oath cadets must take to prove their character. It goes like this:
We will not lie, steal or cheat nor tolerate among us anyone who does. Furthermore, I resolve to do my duty and live honorably, so help me God.
In defense of atheists everywhere, Weinstein is leading the charge to have "so help me God" removed from the oath. The Academy responded by making that segment optional. Weinstein isn't satisfied, saying that cadets would feel pressured to finish the phrase—"It exacts an unconstitutional toll on religious objectors." He prefers it be removed and cadets be allowed to add it if they choose, substituting whichever deity they prefer for "God."

I don't have a problem with this. Here's why.

Since 1984, Air Force Academy cadets have been swearing an oath that they will uphold certain standards "so help me God"—as far as God will help me. As far as I can tell, if the cadet doesn't believe in God, he is taking the name of God in vain. As his lips say the words, his heart is standing firm in the belief that the statement doesn't mean anything. The U.S. government is inciting him to lie in the midst of an oath during which he is swearing not to lie. So, despite Weinstein's annoying tactics, I don't disagree with this one.

The most current issue is that over a cadre member named Mike Rosebush. You can read a comprehensive (if very slanted) article from our Indy paper here. Basically, Rosebush is a self-defined ex-gay activist who spent several years developing and working in reparative therapy with people who wished to get rid of their same-sex attraction. He worked for Focus on the Family and trained counsellors for Exodus International.

As you might guess, Weinstein has joined several voices in the LGBT community calling for Rosebush's dismissal. Sound familiar?

The protestations are not based on Rosebush's job performance; in fact his work earned the 2013 Jon C. Dalton Institute on College Student Values Best Practices Award. No, his removal is being demanded in fear that cadets may feel pressured. And in fear that his presence will adversely affect the "command climate within the Academy." Despite the fact he was hired two years ago and already has this award.

Needless to say, I do not agree with Weinstein on this one.

I heard about Rosebush from a friend who's still at the Academy. After reading the article, I said to him, "Well, I was going to say this isn't the end of the world, but who knows, it may be. The thing is, we're supposed to be separate from the world. And, really, we haven't been for a long time. Stuff like this is going to make us separate involuntarily. And although it's been nice to feel so comfortable, it can't last, and it shouldn't."

I understand my friends who rail against the hypocrisy of the government when it comes to freedom of religion. I understand my friends who rail against Mikey Weinstein and his shenanigans. But the "even" part of me reminds me to look at the situation objectively, without emotion and irritation and fear. Some of this stuff may be just what Christians need to get off the couch and start acting like Christ-followers.

But sometimes the even part of me cries foul and says the situation isn't fair. Then it sends me straight to what Jesus said in John 15:18-25:
If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.'
And the ever-perspective-giving Ephesians 6:12:
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places
It may be that places like the Air Force Academy (not to mention the rest of the world) become less comfortable for Christians. But the more persecution, the more we know what to pray for. This is my prayer. That we will stay even. That we will see things through God's eyes. That we will see broken, lost hearts before we see an enemy. That we will always have a Kingdom perspective. That we will fight on our knees. That we will remember what our Christ-given commission is from Matthew 28:19-20:
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
(NASB—emphasis added)

Photo credit: Rebekah Largent

TagsChristian-Life  |  Current-Issues  |  Hardships  |  Political-Issues

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Published 11-21-13