AFA a work in progress

Posted by Pam Zubeck on Tue, Feb 2, 2010 at 9:20 AM

Even as the Air Force Academy bragged about its open-mindedness in allowing the construction of a prayer circle for earth worshippers, somebody doesn't approve. As you can see by this photo, taken the weekend of Jan. 16, someone has a problem with those who don't buy into Christianity.

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The incident caught the attention of Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation who first raised the religious intolerance issue at the academy in 2005.

But Weinstein, an academy grad, praises AFA Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michael Gould, who immediately ordered the cross removed and admonished base personnel.

"This is an instance of how to do things differently," Weinstein says of Gould's head-on attack of those intolerant of others' beliefs. "We're very pleased. The academy is trying to address this."

But Weinstein also is concerned about the incident pointing up "terrible underlying disrespect for the U.S. Constitution."

"We have to be on it every second of the day," he says.

Tech. Sgt. Brandon Longcrier, who sponsors the group and describes himself as a Pagan, told the Associated Press he's heard no criticism of the new worship space but its presence was just made public.
"So far we haven't had any real issues," he says. Really? Perhaps he isn't aware of the cross incident. He says 15 to 20 cadets have shown an interest in Earth-centered beliefs, and eight to 10 regularly attend Monday night meetings.

The prayer circle, on a hill overlooking the Cadet Chapel and Visitors Center, is to be dedicated in March.

Comments (14)

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"So far we haven't had any real issues," he says. Really? Perhaps he isn't aware of the cross incident."

Yes I'm aware of the cross incident...I'm the one who found it and took the picture. What I meant was in regards to issues securing the stone circle, which we had none. I wanted to leave it up to leadership to handle the cross incident, but now it looks like the press is handling it.

Brandon Longcrier -

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Posted by Tabias on 02/02/2010 at 10:39 AM

It's proper military procedure to allow your chain to handle it. Unfortunately, with the AFA's track record with non-Christian faiths, it doesn't surprise me that someone went to MRFF and it got to the press.

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Posted by Alex P. on 02/02/2010 at 8:06 PM

The real issue here is why does someone like Mr. Longcrier have to insist on having a pagon stone circle at the AFA. The AFA was founded by a Christian Nation. Or has he forgotten this. He has the right to practice his pagon belief. Why does he have to try to embarrass the AFA. BAD FORM !!!! Parent of Student

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Posted by PARENT on 02/04/2010 at 3:20 AM

If a military organization is going to recognize one faith then, IMO, it should recognize them all. That means that if it supplies worship areas for Christians, Muslims & Jews then it should provide worship areas for others as well.

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Posted by kiwimac on 02/04/2010 at 12:03 PM

Well perhaps the reason there hasn't been any "issues" over securing the stone circle is because it was never announced or broadcasted until THIS week! It seems to have been created secretly and deceitfully. Finding the cross and making an issue out of it is what got media attention. Now you are getting lots of "issues" about it because now this stone circle has been publicly made aware to everyone! What exactly are you trying to prove Mr. Longcrier? It seems you are the one who has some serious internal issues.

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Posted by sad on 02/05/2010 at 4:36 PM

@sad: What is "secret and deceitful" about a big circle of stones in the open air?

I mean, c'mon. The True God does not need to be petty, and if you're going to be petty, you just might want to re-think your worship choices.

@Parent: Our United States of America was not founded as a Christian Nation, but we did rebel against one that has Christianity as a state religion.

Why Christians should be afraid of letting others be free is certainly a mystery, but if Tech. Sgt. Longcrier chooses to brush this off as not a real issue, that fine. It shows he's the better man than the coward who lacked the guts to put his (or her) name on that cross.

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Posted by rewinn on 02/05/2010 at 9:35 PM

Sergeant Longcrier found the cross, he took the picture. This may very well be a publicity stunt on Longcrier's behalf to bring national recognition to his spiritual circle. The circle was largely ignored and of not much impact to the AFA before this event. It was the perfect publicity stunt. This is a nice shiny bullet on Sergeant Longcriers performance reports and this was just the attention he needed to firmly establish earth based religions at USAFA. Could it have been done by cadets? Of course...could it have been done by a civilian? Of course...but I feel that a true Christian radical trying to prove a point would have gone further by creating permanent damage... Sergeant Longcrier truly had the most to gain, and did gain a lot from this incident.


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Posted by Mr. Mole on 02/08/2010 at 1:03 PM

I would have kept the cross and, with minor modifications, made a Sun Cross out it (btw Sun Cross predates Christian cross symbol by 1000's of years). To those who claim Sgt Longcrier installed the cross himself: paganism is in no need of sensationalism or publicity. Unlike some major faiths in this country, Paganism is not a proselytizing religion.

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Posted by Vision on 02/08/2010 at 4:34 PM

Rewinn, the problem with any Monotheist is their demands for absolutes. There can be only ONE God, theirs. If they allow for the existence of even one other god then all their ideology crumbles. The Romans were Polytheists and were able to deal with the idea that other people had other gods. They didn't eradicate the religions of others or force them to worship Roman gods. They were far more tolerant and accepting of other faiths than Christians are. All Monotheists are that way. When the Egyptians tried out their One Sun God thing they had to get all nasty and intolerant too. Because once again there can be no ambiguity with Monotheism. All is black or white. Right or wrong. Failure to comply is blasphemy. The presence of any alternate ideology is a threat to their view of the cosmos.

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Posted by Mister Mxyzptlk on 02/09/2010 at 9:33 AM

So far, we have'nt had any issues..."don't ask, don't tell"...military intellagence...LET ONE PRECIOUS CHURCH WINDOW GET BROKEN!!!And there will be hell to pay!!In ALL things military,"lip service"takes on new dimensions!AND, I DO MEAN "DIM-ensions!
CLUE-LESS as usual. If it won't march lock step, well it just don't count! Keep up the good work protecting our religious freedom! OH! I forgot, that only applies to people with the right God!

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Posted by jake on 02/16/2010 at 5:11 PM

Disclaimer: I only speak for myself. I do not represent the USAF Academy Cadets, the US Air Force Academy, or the US Air Force.

I can't believe I'm actually reading the things that some of you are writing.

"why does someone like Mr. Longcrier have to insist on having a pagon stone circle at the AFA. The AFA was founded by a Christian Nation. Or has he forgotten this."

I didn't insist anything. And nobody has forgotten that the AFA was founded by a Christian Nation because it wasn't. Open up a history book or Google what some of our Founding Fathers (including George Washington) had to say about your "Christian Nation". Your ignorance and intolerace does you no good and I would suggest that you not display it in public.

"It seems to have been created secretly and deceitfully"

I've been running the Earth-Centered group for a couple of years now. I saw that there was definitely going to be a following and that our numbers were growing. So I figured it would be a good idea to search for an outdoor worship location. Nothing was done in secret. The Chaplain's Office and the rest of the Base have been in the loop the entire time. Things did happen quickly, but not secretly or deceitfully. And the reason they happened quickly is becuase the rocks were already in place when we were looking for possible locations. I didn't even pick the site. Someone else mentioned that the rocks were already there after I described in a meeting what I wanted to build (with my own money). So I met with that person and after seeing the site, I said "perfect"!

"This may very well be a publicity stunt on Longcrier's behalf to bring national recognition to his spiritual circle."

You can believe what you want to believe, but the Circle making national news isn't what's important here. What's important is that the entire world is reading the hate that is being spewed all over the internet from one faith to another. What's the big deal anyway? So you don't like us. So what? I probably wouldn't like you either, but I'm not going to damn you to hell because I don't like you (Not that I believe in hell.)

"This is a nice shiny bullet on Sergeant Longcriers performance reports and this was just the attention he needed to firmly establish earth based religions at USAFA."

Funny you say that because I just so happen to be the Non Commisioned Officer (NCO) of the Year, Dean of Faculty, 2009 right now. Surely a Pagan can't be capable of that, right? I'll let you know on March 6th if I win NCO of the year for the entire base or who you can congratulate if I don't. Thanks for your concern about my performance reports, but I think I have that area handled already.

"but I feel that a true Christian radical trying to prove a point would have gone further by creating permanent damage...Sergeant Longcrier truly had the most to gain, and did gain a lot from this incident"

Well, good thing a "true radical Christian" wasn't involved! Do you know how that sounds? And you're right, I gained so much from this. So much that now I take different routes to work everyday and look over my shoulder everywhere I go to make sure that some wacko isn't trying to hurt me or my family. You think I wanted that? No, but sometimes you have to stand up for that little document that you've probably never read before called the US Constitution. You don't even have to read that far to get to the part that talks about Freedom of Religion. It's the First Amendment if you're still looking.

Oh and remember what I said at the very beginning? "I can't believe I'm actually reading the things that some of you are writing." Well, I can't believe it, but I wear the uniform and would die protecting your right to do so! Remember that when you're bigotry is free-flowing from your mouths! There are many more than just Christian soldiers out there "giving all" so that you can spew your hatred towards your own kind!

Brandon Longcrier -

Disclaimer: I only speak for myself. I do not represent the USAF Academy Cadets, the US Air Force Academy, or the US Air Force.

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Posted by Tabias on 02/18/2010 at 11:37 PM

Kudos Brandon, it takes a strong person to stand up against the masses. Many people cave under peer pressure. Most people can only hope to have the courage and conviction you have shown.

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Posted by selinaalethia on 02/24/2010 at 3:37 PM

Thank you, Brandon Longcrier. You are supporting and defending the Constitution as well as the rights of every airman, soldier, sailor, and marine to worship or not as they see fit, and you are calling upon all those who, like you, have taken an oath to support and defend the Constitution to live up to that oath. And you are doing so with grace, dignity, and compassion. Blessed Be.
Khalila RedBird )0(

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Posted by Khalila RedBird on 02/27/2010 at 8:25 PM

Brandon.....if i were you,i would have thanked the base as a whole,for whomever provided the donation of fire wood for the ritual that day.
''we in the base's pagan community,wish to thank the person,or persons responsible for giving us that wood,it realy made our fire burn warm. we were soo honored by it,that we placed it in the fire,in the same position it was given to us''

reverse psychology can realy screw with fanatical christians heads.

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Posted by vingtor on 03/23/2010 at 6:48 AM
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