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Air Force Ends Religion-Themed Ethics Class E-mail
Written by Don Byrd   
Thursday, 04 August 2011

After being publicized in Jason Leopold's Truthout reporting, the Air Force Academy has suspended its nuclear war ethics class, which in part taught religious arguments and biblical figures. The Washington Post adds:

[A] PowerPoint presentation used in the course...referenced religious figures including Abraham, John the Baptist and Saint Augustine. The presentation also said that there are “many examples of believers engaged in wars in the Old Testament” and “no pacifistic sentiment in mainstream Jewish history.”

David Smith, a spokesman for the Air Force’s Air Education and Training Command, said that the program had initially been designed to “help folks understand why we’re doing what we’re doing. In the missile launch industry, it takes a certain mindset to be able to walk in the door and say, yes, I can do that.”

But he added: “Senior leadership looked at [the material for the course] and said, no, we could do better than this.”

A course in Ethics seems appropriate for all kinds of reasons in a military academy, but there are ways to introduce ethical concepts, theories and problem-solving without promoting or diminishing specific religious views. If anything, this presentation - which some apparently dubbed the "Jesus loves nukes" speech - sounds like an effort to debunk religious beliefs about war, to counter religious objections in a way that is wholly inappropriate. The training of military personnel should not include any form of religious indoctrination, or any overt effort to undermine religious beliefs, even if those beliefs call into question the conduct of war.

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