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Reader: Build a new kind of AFA chapel

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The Colorado Springs public has been apprised of the Air Force Academy's planned rehab of the AFA chapel, beginning in January. Several recent visits there to see chapel staff and chaplains prompt my quest for further conversation. On grounds of the U.S. Constitution's separation of church and state, I asked these employees how they typically respond to those cadets possibly developing conscience stabs that would supersede dictates of the state, such as the Academy's military mission. "That's not my area of work," responded the chaplain. I then asked if they, as chaplains representing various faiths, ever pondered the chapel as a religious umbrella, a kind of ethical explorer beyond U.S. nationalism and violence. "No" was the curt, one-word response.

A proposal: De-construct the chapel; reuse material as much as possible to re-construct (completely outside AFA property) a non-opulent center of worship for all nations. Such rebuilding would entail sifting historical distortions of each religion's essence. All the religions represented would unite in mutual respect to manifest their core beacon of light: our common, global humanity.

Together they, as well as their secular sidekick, would severely repent of the supremacy (idolatry) of nation-state "ecumenicity" and the assumed violent option inherent to the chapel. Together they could dissolve civil religion's shrine by declaring any chapel irreparable until the nationalistic purpose is replaced by grassroots world citizenship exercised locally. All $68 million projected rehab costs would then be translated into a chapel of interfaith nonviolence practice and education.

— Peter Sprunger-Froese


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