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US Air Force pays Rabbi to teach pilots about religion

Rabbi to advise U.S. Air Force Academy on religion

*** The pilots of American bombers and war planes are learning about Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and religion from a Jewish priest. ***

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Air Force on Monday named a rabbi who has served as a senior military chaplain to help change the religious climate at the Air Force Academy amid concern over inappropriate proselytizing by
evangelical Christians.

Rabbi Arnold Resnicoff, previously the top chaplain in the U.S. military's European Command, will serve as a special assistant for "values and vision" to acting Air Force Secretary Michael Dominguez and Chief of Staff Gen. John Jumper, the Air Force said. Resnicoff is a retired U.S. Navy captain.

The Air Force said Resnicoff will advise Dominguez on implementing recommendations made last week by Lt. Gen. Roger Brady, who headed an assessment prompted by allegations that the academy promotes evangelical Christianity and a climate of intolerance toward other religious beliefs including Judaism.

The academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, produces junior officers for the Air Force.

"As far as I know, there is no illegal discrimination -- that means someone can't get a promotion or someone can't get a good grade or someone can't get into a class based on religion," Resnicoff said.

"However, there is some insensitivity and there's some people who may have thought that speaking and proclaiming their faith was an innocent way to spread the word. Again, they have to understand this idea that something has changed when they put that uniform on or when they work for a military academy," he told reporters in a conference call.

The U.S. Constitution mandates a separation of church and state.

Brady's report faulted the academy for failing to accommodate "adherents to minority beliefs," but concluded there was no "overt religious discrimination." It found that some faculty and staff inappropriately expressed strong religious views and Jewish cadets on campus faced anti-Semitic comments.

The report recommended that the Air Force set new guidelines on appropriate religious expression and provide training in religious diversity and respect.

Resnicoff, who already has visited the campus but will work out of the Pentagon, promised to help provide guidance on religious expression, although "not a cookbook necessarily that says you can do this here and you can't do this here."

He said his work initially will focus on the academy, but he would provide advice applicable to the entire Air Force and address every four-star general in the Air Force.

Resnicoff has served as national director of inter-religious affairs for the American Jewish Committee advocacy group. Before becoming a chaplain, he served as an officer in the Vietnam War. Years later, he was involved in the creation of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington.

Capt. James Cunningham, an Air Force spokesman, said Resnicoff was not picked because he is Jewish.

"He was hired because of his credentials. He was selected because he has inter-religious and military experience," Cunningham said.

A team from Yale Divinity School said in April it found evangelical Christian proselytizing commonplace on campus, and noted "stridently evangelical themes" by staff. The team described a campus chaplain telling cadets they would "burn in the fires of hell" if they were not born-again Christians.


Haaretz, "Rabbi to advise U.S. Air Force Academy on religion", 28 June 2005.

"The Insider" mailing list article, 29 June 2005.

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Tags: America, Jews, Air Force, Jewish, Rabbi, advise, teach, religion, Islam, , conspiracy theories.

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