A friend of mine pointed out Col. Holden’s commentary on the Air Force Academy’s struggle with religious freedom and tolerance. I really wasn’t surprised to read this opinion as it also happens to be the prevailing view in our society at large–or at least is the prevailing view among those who shape the opinions and the norms of our society. It really is more surprising that this view hasn’t infected a larger portion of the Air Force and its values and policies than it has already. My purpose in drawing your attention to this commentary is two-fold.
First, the view that all religions are valid paths to knowing God touts itself as the most tolerant, most accepting, and most respectful view to have. I couldn’t disagree more. The idea of religious tolerance places itself above the religions themselves, and, without heeding the actual claims of the religions, forces them all to mean the same thing. Traditional (orthodox?) Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all claim that there is one way to God and all other ways lead to eternal death or eternal punishment. Religious Tolerance intolerantly denies the possible valildity of any of these religions as the means to truth, neutering them by attempting to make them equal. The supposedly religious-neutrality of Tolerance actually brings a huge bag of assumptions, ideals, and convictions to the table. Among these assumptions are the ideas that: God doesn’t care how He is worshipped, religions are essentially human inventions with no intrinsic value, religious truths are relative (if true at all), religion is essentially about how I feel rather than about the demands of God. These ideas may or may not be true, however, to force them on the religions of the world as the minimum standard that must be met is to imperialistically impose one ideal upon many others–tyrannically claiming that all religions are equal and thereby denying the validity or truth of any one of them.
Second, in a previous post I argued that the Air Force is becoming increasingly secular and is making pragmatism its rule for morality. Commentary like that of Col. Holden only serves to reinforce that argument. However, in pointing out the problem with the Air Force, I did not mean to lay the burden of the responsibility for fixing it on the Air Force. The military is an arm of the government, and thus is an extension of the will of the people. Military members are American citizens first, and are equally affected by the ideas of this age. Thus, in order to get at the problem, the reigning ideals and philosophies of American culture must be addressed. The responsibility rests upon all of us as American citizens to change the current idea that morality is determined by pragmatism if we are to keep our military from either overstepping its bounds or from deteriorating from the inside out.