Tebowing for God and Country

Players Tebowing at an Air Force Academy Game

Players have started “Tebowing” at US Air Force Academy football games. Tebowing is defined as “ the act of kneeling on one knee in prayer specifically with one’s head bowed and an arm resting on the one bent knee, when kneeling, a form of genuflecting“. It is routinely mocked when athletes spend time bragging of their piety by displays such as this. Lately all cadets on the football team have started tebowing, a form of oneupmanship like a small child proclaiming “Everybody look at me, look at me!

For people who spend a lot of time proclaiming how “Christian” they are, these Evangelicals sure like to ignore the parts in their Bible and supposedly spoken by their religious founder himself. Quotes like the following contained in Matthew 6.5 (King James Version):

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

It’s rather hard to believe that all cadets on the team are Evangelical Christians since they are only about 25% of the US population and this ratio should also apply to the cadets at the AFA. So some of the football players may be forced to go along in order not to be harassed or to be able to play.

A letter was received my the Military Religious Freedom Foundation from an AFA cadet in 2010, describing the situation at the Academy. Perhaps some of the players are going along with the tebowing as a form of mocking the more overt Christians at the Academy. Cue evil grin, perhaps all of them are.

——— Forwarded message ———-
From: Mikey Weinstein
Date: Tue, Sep 21, 2010 at 2:47 PM
Subject: About Ready To Give Up On USAFA
To: Darryl Wimberley
From:USAF Academy Cadet’s E-Mail Address Withheld
Date: September 21, 2010 1:25:22 PM MDT
To: Information Subject: About Ready To Give Up On USAFA
Mr. Weinstein, I am a Firstclassman (senior) at the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA). To many who think they know me but actually do not at all, I am considered an “ideal cadet” and stand high in my class in every category. I guess you could say that I’m kind of the leader of an “invisible” group of well over a hundred or so fellow cadets who support everything you and MRFF have done and are doing here at the Academy. You and MRFF are our advocates and champions. I am a Protestant and straight. Most of our group are the same, but some are LGBT and Catholic and a few are of other faiths including atheists and agnostics. I will not say whether I am male or female because I don’t want to give them an edge in ever finding out who I am. I expect you will show this to others and I hope you do. For a long time you asked us to trust the “system” here at USAFA and take our religious persecution grievances “up the chain” or to other reporting elements. You told us all the time that the Superintendent, Lt. Gen. Gould, and his staff would have our backs and not let anything bad happen to us if we came forward. We told you that was crazy. We told you that many times. Then, when Lt. Gen. Gould refused to make public the “Climate Study” data, after first describing it as positive, and then all the bad information leaked out, we thought that was the final straw. Then, this morning we all saw in “Falcon Clips”, sent all over USAFA from the USAFA Public Affairs people, the hyper “anti Mikey/MRFF” blog submission from something or someone called “ChristianFighterPilot.com”? We now know that person to be an active duty USAF Officer and USAFA grad, of course, with about an endless number of axes to grind. USAFA didn’t know that too? Impossible. That pretty much sealed the deal for all of us. USAFA is now distributing even individual blogger’s pro Christian supremacy sentiments to everybody who exists here? Mr. Weinstein, USAFA is literally overrun with Christian conservative fanatics. And the leadership here either knows this or is ridiculously blind to it. If any of us gave even the slightest indication that we weren’t one of their number, our lives would be even more miserable than they already are due to the fact that we are all living lies here. Despite the Cadet Honor Code we all lie about our lives. We have to. We don’t have a choice. Thus we are all “invisible” to our tormentors. They will never find us. My own parents don’t know. Only my finacee knows and he/she is one of my classmates and a fellow member of our underground group. I keep “Christian” books and “Christian” CD’s in my room so others will be fooled and leave me alone and not suspect that I’m not actually with the USAFA “Christianity is the Only Way” program here, even though I consider myself to be a Christian. Sometimes we got to their “bible studies” or attend SPIRE events and hold our breath that we’re not “outed”. Many of this group I kind of lead do exactly the same things. It is so much of the total culture here that to object even slightly immediately brands you as suspect. And if you are suspect, then you are in trouble. We all need those discretionary academic instructor points. We all need our AOCs and Wing and Group and Squadron staffs to want to support us. We all want more playing time with our athletic teams. We all need help from “the system” in an infinite number of ways but we will never get that help if we do not appear to be extreme conservative evangelistic Christians in every way. The news article says that you are now back “At war with USAFA”. Join the club.

That cadet and his/her “underground” classmates are probably active duty Air Force officers now. I sincerely hope the underground group continues and keeps quite a portion of members getting through the Air Force Academy. Once they achieve some rank and position, it will be time to turn things around. And on the way I hope they dish out some payback to the officers and senior enlisted who feel they are entitled to compel displays such as forced prayer from their subordinates. Good luck Underground Cadets.

Further Reading:

Former USAFA Grad Slams Christian Bigotry

Underground Group of Cadets Says Air Force Academy Controlled by Evangelicals

The Sorry State of Religious Freedom at the Air Force Academy

Former AFA Chaplain Morton OpEd – End Run