"Concern About the Influence of Christian Conservatives in the Military..."
Religion correspondent Neela Banerjee reported in overheated terms about a skirmish over religious and military symbols at Annapolis in Saturday's "Clashing Over Church Ritual and Flag Protocol at the Naval Academy Chapel."
On Sundays at the Naval Academy Chapel, at a few minutes past 11 a.m., the choir stops singing and a color guard carrying the academy flag and the American flag strides up the aisle.
Below a cobalt blue stained-glass window of Jesus, one midshipman dips the academy flag before the altar cross, and the other dips the American flag.
The dipping of the flag has begun this nondenominational Protestant service at the Naval Academy for 40 years. But in civilian life, the American flag is never to be dipped, and the Navy says, it is not dipped at any other worship service at the academy or at any other installation.
In October, after the academy's superintendent, Vice Adm. Jeffrey L. Fowler, raised questions about the ritual with the academy chaplains, they suspended the flag-dipping because "there was a concern over teaching midshipmen something not practiced anywhere in the fleet," the academy's spokesman, Cmdr. Ed Austin, said in an e-mail message.
But the pause lasted only a few months. Now the flags are being dipped again, and the superintendent, who has held his post since June, has stopped attending the 11 a.m. service. Evangelical Christians and their critics alike assert that the academy had to reconsider after an outcry by congregants and alumni.
Banerjee completed her story by rounding up a total of one anecdote from the Army and the Air Force to indicate widespread concern about a fundamentalist takeover of the military:
Concern about the influence of conservative Christians in the military has grown since an investigation in 2005 by the Air Force found that Christian staff and faculty members at the Air Force Academy used their positions to evangelize cadets. Conservative Christian chaplains have battled the military to break with tradition and pray in Jesus' name at military functions.
Now, Specialist Jeremy Hall of the Army, an Iraq veteran and an atheist, is suing the Defense Department, with the help of Mr. Weinstein's group, because he says his superior officer tried to intimidate him into accepting fundamentalist Christianity.