Lackland Air Force Base, in San Antonio, Texas, is not just any run-of-the-mill air base. It’s where every airman enters the service and undergoes training for enlisted duty. That fact makes this story all the more significant and disturbing.
Evangelical Christian airmen at Lackland Air Force Base are facing severe threats and retribution for their religious beliefs and some personnel have been ordered to publicly express their position on gay marriage.
“There is an atmosphere of intimidation at Lackland Air Force Base,” said Steve Branson, the pastor of Village Parkway Baptist Church in San Antonio. “Gay commanders and officers are pushing their agenda on the airmen. There is a culture of fear in the military and it’s gone to a new level with the issue of homosexuality.”
Branson tells me at least 80 airmen attended a private meeting at the church where he heard them voice their concerns about religious hostilities at the Air Force base. It was a standing-room only crowd.
“The religious persecution is happening,” the pastor said. “It’s getting bigger every day. Gay and lesbian airmen can talk about their lifestyle, but the rest have to stay completely quiet about what they believe.”
I went through basic training at Lackland 20 years ago. The greatest worry we airmen in training had at that time was getting the details of our tasks right and making sure we stayed out of trouble. Chapel service was one of the few releases from the intense pressure of basic during those six weeks of mind games. Now the mind games have become something much deeper, and they will have lasting significance on readiness. Chapel is no release, and soon enough, chaplains who hold to the traditional definition of marriage will no longer be welcome in the United States military.
Many of us who served in the military predicted that issues like this would arise. The pundit class, in both parties and among the libertarian set, most of whom never so much as thought of serving in uniform, dismissed and even laughed off those concerns.