Tell a friend

Donate

Email sign-up

defending the First Amendment against the Christian right ...

Jews On First!

... because if Jews don't speak out, they'll think we don't mind

Leader of fundamentalist Christian faculty group recorded disparaging investigation of religious coercion at Air Force Academy

by JewsOnFirst.org, February 13, 2007

The leader of a fundamentalist Christian faculty organization at the U.S. Air Force Academy brushed off the headline-grabbing investigation of religious coercion by the school's faculty, attributing the probe to complaints by one individual. In a presentation to a Campus Crusade for Christ faculty conference last June, Air Force Academy Professor James Pocock assured his audience that, absent an activist individual, an investigation of religious intolerance was unlikely at their schools.

Pocock then went on to detail how successfully the Christian Leadership Ministries (CLM), which he leads at the Academy, has organized the faculty and staff -- and how important it is to proselytize at the school.

CLM is the faculty arm of Campus Crusade for Christ.

Mikey Weinstein credited
The individual Pocock mentioned in his presentation is Mikey Weinstein, an academy graduate who is suing the Air Force to force it to institute policies respectful of religious minorities. The lawsuit is based on Weinstein's two sons' experiences of anti-Semitism and religious coercion at the Academy. (You will find more details at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which Weinstein established to preserve constitutional guarantees of religious freedom in the armed forces.)

You can listen to CLM leader Pocock's presentation here.

Pocock, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who continues to teach at the Academy, said his CLM group involves 170 faculty and staff at the institution. He said CLM regards military officers as an important target and particularly appreciates the fact that Academy graduates go all over the world.

(You'll find more about CLM and Campus Crusade for Christ at the end of this report. For more about religious coercion at the Air Force Academy, please click here.)

In his presentation Pocock boasts that one-third of the Academy cadets are involved in religious activities.

Weinstein's book, With God on Our Side, and his lawsuit recount numerous instances of coercion and intolerance by fundamentalist evangelical Christians at the Academy. He recounts how his investigation determined that top Academy leaders protected the religious activists -- even in the midst of congressional scrutiny.

Pocock dismissed the ground-breaking investigative reporting of Pam Zubeck for the Colorado Springs Gazette as repackaging news releases from Weinstein. He encouraged his audience to contact reporters with their side of the story.

Pocock concedes possibility of offense to Jews
In a single concession to critics of religious intolerance at the Academy, Pocock tells of having second thoughts about a full-page newspaper ad for Christmas, entitled "Jesus is the Reason for the Season." First, he acknowledges, the signatures of many high-ranking Academy leaders on the ad might have a coercive effect: "A non-Christian might feel he won't do well" in his career.

And Pocock also conceded that a slogan on the ad saying "Jesus is the only way" might be "somewhat offensive to a Jewish person."

He said CLM has "decided not to do this for a while."

To listen to Pocock's recorded presentation, please click here.

The website for the Christian Leadership Ministries conference, "Two Tasks," held in June 2006, is here.


About Campus Crusade for Christ and its Christian Leadership Ministries



Not by Politics Alone
The Enduring Inluence of the Christian Right

by Sara Diamond, The Guilford Press, 1998, p. 61

Excerpts:

Founder Bill Bright, a successful businessman, started Campus Crusade on the University of California at Los Angeles campus in 1951. With the idea of imitating communist recruitment tactics, he urged young Christian converts to form cell groups. Bright self-consciously promoted an image of his ministry as a revolutionary movement. In fact, twenty years after the founding of Campus Crusade, Bright described his staff of three thousand worldwide missionaries as a 'conspiracy to overthrow the world." Bright's goal was to recruit young people away from the Left and into a conservative brand of Christianity.

...

Unbeknownst to most Christians, by 1976, Bright and a handful of others were also workign on a project called Third Century publishers. Their goal was to prompt born-again Christians to become active in politics during the United States' bicentennial anniversary year, and beyond. Third Century published manuals explaining how Christian leaders could begin to recruit people into home study groups, with an eye toward influencing congressional races.

From the website of Campus Crusade for Christ's Christian Leadership Ministries

These quotes are taken from the main sections of the CLM Website, www.clm.org.

"Campus Crusade for Christ founded Christian Leadership Ministries in 1980, recognizing the incredible influence university professors have on students, other scholars and our entire culture. Since then, CLM has become:

  • a network of 10,000 Christian professors at over 1,100 universities
  • 85 field staff members & couples at 100+ universities in 30 states
  • 13 active Web sites publishing free, scholarly resources to millions of Web visitors per year from more than 135 nations
  • a community of scholars-in-training who research, teach and model academic integration
  • host of major biennial conferences fusing scholarship and ministry
  • sponsor of 130 faculty outreach trips to 35 nations
  • partner of national faculty ministries in England, Poland and Taiwan evangelical think tanks on campuses around the U.S. and the world much more..

"CLM has always encouraged Christians in the university to publicly stand strong for Jesus Christ. With an increasingly secularized campus culture, we have seen the need to help professors clarify their legal freedoms, which are provided by our nation’s Constitution, to integrate their faith with their teaching and discipline."

"In 1985, CLM started the Free Speech Project under the direction of Dr. Scott Luley. With more than 20 years of experience dealing with legal issues, we can help a professor know what is legal and appropriate in communicating one’s faith in the university and what to do when faced with opposition."

...

"CCC co-founder, the late Bill Bright, shared some years ago that if he had it to do over again, he would have worked with professors right from the genesis of the ministry in 1951. He came to realize the unique and critical role professors play in training future leaders and setting the tone for a culture's beliefs."

"...[I]n a 1990s study, the major campus ministries in the U.S. (including The Campus Ministry of CCC) found that together they were reaching only about 30 percent of the students in the U.S. each year. Thus, apart from their influence on colleagues and the culture, professors play a pivotal role in giving students a chance to know someone who walks with Christ."

...

"Partnering with professors and future professors to restore the plausibility of the gospel and the prominence of the Christian worldview in academia."

"Helping to provide an environment to recruit, train, and nurture CLM staff in working together to help fulfill the Great Commission in the university."

...

"Our mission is to influence the university and world for Christ by increasing the prominence of the Christian worldview in all academic disciplines by:

  • Influencing Today's Professors...
  • Aiding Christian faculty in fulfilling God's call to manifest Christ and the Christian worldview on campus and through their scholarship
  • Offering non-believing faculty a plausible and compelling explanation of the Christian faith Cultivating Tomorrow's Professors...
  • Providing instruction in Christian thought and encouraging students to think about their studies from a Biblical worldview
  • Identifying students called to serve Christ as scholars and mentoring them through their academic training

...

"We must do the same as the Apostle Paul did in his day: target the centers of cultural influence so as to see the gospel and Christian worldview extended throughout the nations. However, today the ultimate centers of influence are not our cities, but our universities."

"The Problem: Universities marginalize the Christian worldview. Unfortunately, the Christian gospel and worldview are often marginalized on the university campus today. Thus primarily non-Christian worldviews are vigorously expressed and defended, giving the impression that these are the only viable options and the Christian worldview is not even worthy of consideration."

The solution: Integrate the Christian worldview and academic inquiry. The solution today is again taking the Christian worldview to the centers of cultural influence—our universities—and asserting it as true. In Paul's words we are to 'demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God....'"