The Air Force Academy recently opened the doors to an outdoor Wiccan Centre. That move was meant to show a new tolerance for religion. Two weeks ago a cross was planted in the middle of the Centre.
Since a survey in 2004 found non-Christians were feeling harassed by evangelical Christian peers, the Air Force has been working on improving tolerance.
The move to have an outdoor area to worship for Wiccan cadets was in the right direction; that is until someone planted a cross in its midst.
The center that overlooks the Cadet Chapel and Visitor Center is scheduled to have its dedication ceremony on March 10.
There are already sacred spaces on campus for Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist cadets.
When the Academy spoke of the opening last week they said they had not heard anyone against the space.
Sergeant Longcrier said that the atmosphere at the school had improved over the past five years.
"When I first arrived here, Earth-centered cadets didn't have anywhere to call home," he said. "Now, they meet every Monday night, they get to go on retreats, and they have a stone circle. ... We have representation on the Cadet Interfaith Council, and I even meet with the Chaplains at Peterson Air Force Base once a year to discuss religious climate."
A cross being erected in the circle is a huge set back. Some have likened it to swastika placed on a Jewish temple.
‘We’ve been making great progress at the Air Force Academy. This is clearly a setback,’ said Mikey Weinstein, a 1977 graduate of the academy. He is founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, and has often tangled with the academy over such issues.
Weinstein believes that because the center is Wiccan that reaction has been reduced.
An inquiry has been made of the incident.