An Air Force Academy freshman cadet has been "counseled" for sending an e-mail to the entire freshman class urging them to pray and citing specific Scriptures.
Here's the missive the cadet sent out two days ago:
Subject: Daily Devotional: Prayer
January 24, 2012
Do Your Own Praying
Is anyone among you afflicted - ill-treated, suffering evil? He should pray.
— James 5:13
The Greek word translated afflicted doesn't mean the result of sickness and disease. It means "troubled."
If you're in trouble, you need to pray. That's what the Word says. Notice it didn't say your pastor needs to pray for you or your friends need to pray for you. It says you need to pray.
Too often we try to find a quick fix to our problems by asking everyone else to pray for us. There's nothing wrong, of course, with having others pray for you, but you'll never get your life to a place of permanent victory until you begin to pray yourself.
The biggest church in the world is in Seoul, Korea. It's pastored by Dr. David Cho, and the last I heard, it had more than 700,000 members. How did that church grow to be so large? According to Dr. Cho, the key is prayer. Not just his prayers but the prayers of his people. Praying is a way of life in that church. They have a place called Prayer Mountain where thousands of people come every day to pray.
I once heard Dr. Cho's mother-in-law on television talking about the emphasis they put on prayer. She said that when their church members are in trouble, when they have marriage problems or problems in their personal life, before anything else is done, those church members are told to go and fast and pray for 24 hours.
We need to do more of that here in our churches in the United States. We need to quit training our people to run around asking others to pray for them and train them instead to do their own praying.
You see, if I pray for God to solve one problem for you, you may enjoy success for a while, but then another problem will come along because you'll still be making the same old mistakes that got you in trouble the first time. But if you buckle down and do that praying for yourself, if you discipline yourself to start searching out the things of the Spirit, you'll get permanent answers. You'll learn how to make adjustments in your life that will keep those problems from cropping up again.
If you have made Jesus your Lord, you have access to the throne of Almighty God. He has every solution to every problem you'll ever have, and He's just waiting for you to come to Him, so He can give you the answer. It may take some private time alone with Him for you to hear it, but He will never disappoint you.
Don't depend on others to do your praying for you. Go personally to the throne of God today.
Scripture Reading: Psalm 5
Thank you for your time and consideration. (etc., whatever)
When the Independent asked the academy about the e-mail and what action, if any, was taken, director of public affairs Lt. Col. John Bryan issued the following prepared statement:
"While everyone is entitled to their own personal beliefs, proper use of official email and respect for others' beliefs (or non-beliefs) is paramount. In the instance you've inquired about, we agree, the cadet made an error. We look at this as a teachable moment. The Squadron Commander and the Group Chaplain both counseled the freshman cadet for this lapse in judgment."
Wait a minute, says Mikey Weinstein, a 1977 AFA grad who is the academy's biggest critic on religious issues, accusing the academy of favoring fundamentalist Christianity and tolerating proselytizing by staff, faculty and cadets over the years.
"The academy ran out of teachable moments about 2006," Weinstein says. "These are discipline moments."
He launched his charge against the academy in 2005 and formed the Military Religious Freedom Foundation around academy issues, though the group has since branched out to spotlight religious favoritism military wide.
Weinstein called the prayer e-mail a "blatant violation" of Air Force Chief of Staff of Gen. Norton Schwartz's Sept. 1 memo demanding religious neutrality. Of course, he notes, the directive never was widely circulated at the academy as it was on many other Air Force bases, including Peterson AFB.
In any event, it's mystifying how a cadet who's been at the academy since June could commit such an act, considering the academy claims that it adamantly teaches religious sensitivity from the time doolies arrive, Weinstein says.
"The academy's record on the separation of church and state, if it increased 1,000 percent, would reach the level of abysmal," he says. "That's why the MRFF has 362 clients at the [Air Force] academy, 19 at West Point [U.S. Military Academy] and 11 at Annapolis [U.S. Naval Academy]."