Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Pagan Worship Center Added to Air Force Academy

The Air Force Academy chapel will add a worship area for followers of Earth-centered religions . . .

UPDATE 11/27/11: Air Force Borrows $80,000 for Pagan Worship Center

UPDATE 10/20/11: Army Gives Atheist Special Treatment at Graduation

UPDATE 8/8/11: Army Accommodates Atheist 'Godless' Festival

UPDATE 6/17/11: The Air Force Academy has completed its “worship space” for the “Earth-Centered Community,” including Wiccans, Druids, Heathens and Pagans.

-- From "Academy chapel to add outdoor circle to worship areas" by Staff Sgt. Don Branum, U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs 1/27/10

Tech. Sgt. Brandon Longcrier, NCO in charge of the Academy's Astronautics laboratories, worked with the chapel to create the official worship area for both cadets and other servicemembers in the Colorado Springs area who practice Earth-centered spirituality.

The Academy's chaplains have supported Sergeant Longcrier's efforts every step of the way, the NCO said.

"Every servicemember is charged with defending freedom for all Americans, and that includes freedom to practice our religion of choice or, for that matter, not to practice any faith at all," said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) William Ziegler, Cadet Wing chaplain. "Being in the military isn't just a job -- it's a calling. We all take an oath to support and defend the Constitution, and that means we've all sworn to protect one another's religious liberties. We all put on our uniforms the same way; we're all Airmen first."

The presence of diverse worship areas reflects a sea change from five years ago, when reports surfaced alleging religious intolerance at the Academy. Sergeant Longcrier became Pagan shortly after arriving at the Academy in 2006 and said he believes the climate has improved dramatically.

Earth-centered spirituality includes traditions such as Wicca, Druidism and several other religious paths that, while relatively new, trace their roots to pre-Christian Europe, Sergeant Longcrier said. Gerald Gardner founded the first Wiccan tradition in England in 1952, with neo-Druidism following in the early 1960s.

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