Posts Tagged “air force”

U.S. Air Force Rapid Capabilities OfficeSome militant Christianists in Congress are furious over changes that have been made to the logo of an Air Force unit. Specifically, “God” has been removed from it. The Washington Post On Faith blog reports that they find this absolutely intolerable (WebCite cached article):

Dozens of members of Congress are upset that the Air Force has removed the Latin word for “God” from the logo of an Air Force acquisitions office.

Led by Rep. J. Randy Forbes, co-chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, 36 lawmakers Monday (Feb. 6) sent a letter to Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz objecting to the removal of “God” from the logo of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO).

The logo was recently removed, according to Forbes, after objections by the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers.

They claim it’s OK for the RCO’s logo to promote God, because God is found elsewhere in government, even where it shouldn’t be:

The letter argues that “courts consistently have upheld the constitutionality of our national motto, ‘In God We Trust,’ despite the obvious mention of God.”

In other words, they’re saying, “We’ve gotten away with injecting ‘God’ into Americans’ lives for decades now and no one has stopped us … therefore it’s OK for us to keep doing it, wherever and whenever we want, forever.”

Here’s an open invitation to Randy Forbes and every other member of the Congressional Prayer Caucus: If you want this cynical, cold-hearted, godless agnostic heathen to actually obey the U.S. motto and truly “trust” your God, then go right ahead and make me trust him. I dare you all to give it your best shot. If — as you claim — I’m required as an American to “trust” your God, then you have no reason to hold anything back. Come on … do your worst, and make me.

Photo credit: USAF RCO Fact Sheet.

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7th Tactical Fighter Squadron (known in the Pacific theater of WW2 as the Screamin' Demons)A pastor in Warner Robins, Georgia is sanctimoniously outraged because his son — who will soon attend Warner Robins High School — will be known as a “Demon.” USA Today tells all about his angry campaign to change that (WebCite cached article):

Pastor Donald Crosby moved to Warner Robins about a year ago was furious when he found out his ninth-grade son would soon become a “demon.”

Crosby, who is pastor of Kingdom Builders Church of Jesus Christ, is on a mission to get rid of the Warner Robins High School Demons’ mascot.

One expects an evangelical pastor to throw around scripture citations in order to justify his complaint, but Crosby doesn’t do so (at least, not in this article). Instead he appeals to the dictionary … or more precisely, to what is not in dictionaries:

“A demon never has a good connotation. Never,” says Crosby. “If you look it up in Webster’s Dictionary, there’s nothing good about a demon.”

Even so, Crosby does fall into a common evangelical Christians’ misconception, which is to make everything into a religion:

Crosby says a pitchfork-wielding mascot sends the wrong message to teens.

“Hundreds of children gather into one place at one time chanting ‘Go Demons.’ It’s the equivalent of us gathering into a church on Sunday morning and shouting ‘Go Jesus’ or ‘Hallelujah Jesus,'” says Crosby.

Uh, pastor … there’s a big difference between chanting “Go demons!” and chanting “Go Jesus!”; I can guarantee that none (or almost none) of those people are actually worshipping demons, but people do commonly worship Jesus (in the US at least, and I assume it to be the case in Warner Robins).

As it happens, there’s an explanation for why the Warner Robins High School has “demons” as its teams’ nickname:

Principal Steve Monday says the origin of the demon as a mascot is not religious in nature. In fact, it started in World War II.

He says the school got its mascot from the 7th fighter squadron at Robins Air Force Base, which earned its nickname in the South Pacific.

“They adopted that name in honor of that fighter squadron — the ‘Screamin’ Demons,'” Monday said.

The simpleton Crosby isn’t buying this, however:

“There’s no airplane there,” says Crosby, holding up a picture of the mascot at a football game. “This doesn’t look like something that has to do with the Air Force.”

While this objection does seem to have a little logic, allow me to point out that the 7th Fighter Squadron had an insignia of its own, which just happens not to have an airplane in it, and also does not explicitly say anything about the Air Force. (That logo, as of 2017 when I checked, is no longer available.) It only contains the unit name, not its identity as part of the Air Force.

Just saying.

The whole matter of team names is a sticky one, and — generally — people tend to make far too much of them. Demands to change them might have some value, however, sometimes these demands are based on erroneous beliefs. For instance, the teams of St John’s University in New York City used to be known as “the Redmen.” In the 1980s and 90s, many teams were pressured to move away from nicknames that had anything to do with native Americans, as it was considered derogatory toward them; so in 1994, St John’s teams became the Red Storm. But that school’s teams had never been called “the Redmen” because of any attempt by the school to denigrate native Americans. Rather, it was because they wore red uniforms … they were, literally, “men in red” or “red men.”

If it’s decided that Warner Robins High School’s teams can no longer be “the Demons,” then I guess some other schools have to change their names: DePaul University can no longer be the Blue Demons, and I suppose Wake Forest would no longer be the Demon Deacons. Extending this principle to the word “devil,” which is similar in meaning and I’m sure would also offend the pastor Crosby, Duke University would have to stop calling its teams the Blue Devils, and so too would Central Connecticut State University.

Enough is enough. It’s time we finally accepted that a name is a name. A marker. A label. A placeholder for something else. The name of a team is not an object in its own right that can be “worshipped” as pastor Crosby seems to believe. Let’s start being a little more mature about them, OK?

Hat tip: Mark at Skeptics & Heretics Forum on Delphi Forums.

Photo credit: Holloman AFB media gallery.

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Franklin Graham Speaking at Park Street ChurchA little less than two months after it said something astoundingly asinine, the ferocious religionist wingnuts known as the American Family Association have managed to top that. According to them, the United States military is run by Muslims and gays (WebCite cached article):

Bottom line: you want to know who’s now running the U.S. Army, the U.S. Navy and the Marines and calling the shots where it counts? Fundamentalist Muslims and homosexual activists.

The AFA reached this conclusion because the Pentagon disinvited Franklin Graham, evangelical preacher son of evangelical preacher Billy Graham — and noted critic of Islam — from their National Day of Prayer event. You see, according to the AFA, Billy Graham is right about Islam and therefore should be worshipped rather than dissed. Of course, if anyone dares be a critic of Christianity, the AFA is usually first in line to go to war over it. (Another example of the hypocrisy that saturates fundamentalist Christianity in spite of Jesus’ own clear orders to his followers never to be hypocritical.)

Photo credit: Rachel J.

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Metaphysical medicine (e.g. homeopathy, chiropractic, etc.) is getting more attention these days, even though there is still no evidence it does what it claims to. Unfortunately, practitioners of various “alternative medicines” have been able to convince people that what they do “works,” and increasingly, even serious medicial practitioners — i.e. people who know better — are finding they have to adopt it, otherwise, patients will think they don’t “care” or something.

The latest medical corps to adopt metaphysical medicine, is the Air Force, which will train combat doctors in a specific form of acupuncture in the field, as the AP reports:

Now the Air Force, which runs the military’s only acupuncture clinic, is training doctors to take acupuncture to the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan. A pilot program starting in March will prepare 44 Air Force, Navy and Army doctors to use acupuncture as part of emergency care in combat and in frontline hospitals, not just on bases back home.

They will learn “battlefield acupuncture,” a method [physician Col. Richard] Niemtzow developed in 2001 that’s derived from traditional ear acupuncture but uses the short needles to better fit under combat helmets so soldiers can continue their missions with the needles inserted to relieve pain. The needles are applied to five points on the outer ear. Niemtzow says most of his patients say their pain decreases within minutes.

The idea that “acupuncture works”s is belied by the fact that it does not appear to work any better than placebo. The truth about acupuncture is that it is no more effective than doling out sugar pills:

What is not so clear to some people, but is easily ferreted out from the evidence, is that acupuncture most likely works by classical conditioning and other factors that are often lumped together and referred to as “the placebo effect.” Furthermore, in some cases sham acupuncture works better than other placebos.

The placebo effect is widely misunderstood and its power misinterpreted; I suggest reading more about it if you wish to know more. Basically it is not merely the power of “mind over body” (which many alternative-medicine practitioners talk about); it can also include things like spontaneous remission, the illness or injury running its course, and more.

Acupuncture is said to work by changing the flow of something known as “chi” (sometimes spelled qi) that is presumed to follow minuscule channels known as “meridians.” Its practitioners happily assert this repeatedly, as though it’s authoritatively true and verified — but the cold hard fact is that, despite the many different ways we now have to image the human body (X-rays, PET scans, MRIs, etc.), no one — and I do mean no one — has ever managed to show any qi flowing along any meridian, ever, anywhere inside of any human being. How anyone can spend money on a fraudulently-promoted practice, is simply unbelievable … and that the United States Air Force would train combat doctors in its use, is inexcusable.

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Speaking of lawsuits, an atheist soldier is suing the military over its promotion of religion in the ranks and among civilians it encounters:

An atheist soldier suing over prayers at military formations claims a larger pattern of religious discrimination exists in the military, citing attempts to convert Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan and an evangelical bias in a suicide prevention manual. …

The revised lawsuit criticizes the Army’s 2008 manual on suicide prevention, quoting it as promoting “religiosity” as a necessary part of prevention and describing “connectivity to the divine” as “fundamental.”

The lawsuit cites comments from a chaplain and a second soldier in Christian missionary publications about attempts to convert Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the two soldiers’ desire to distribute Bibles.

Way to go, Pentagon. Tell a soldier who’s suicidal that s/he just needs to “get religion.” That’s so helpful. Oh, and while you’re in a country where a lot of people don’t like you or the US, by all means, proselytize them! That does wonders.

Not!

Proselytizing in the military even reached a point of absurdity, according to the suit:

The lawsuit also notes that in 2007, the Air Force sponsored “Team Faith,” which performs motocross stunt shows to “lead extreme sports athletes to Christ.”

I’m not clear as to exactly how motocross stunts have anything to do with Jesus … but I guess that’s not something the Pentagon is concerned about.

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