Witchcraft Si! Christians No!

Pam Charles bluecalyptus at YAHOO.COM
Fri Jul 16 01:39:07 MDT 1999

One of my husband's old military friends sent this to him tonight.  He
has been madder than a "Black Russian" ever since:

The Air Force has punished a junior officer who objected to
sex-integrated assignments in the intimate confines of a nuclear
missile launch center because he believes it conflicts with Catholic
teachings on temptation.

It is a clash between the Pentagon's push to sexually mix nearly every
career field and an individual officer's belief that pairing a man and
women alone in the underground capsule violates biblical teaching to
avoid the appearance of sin.

The married officer, 1st Lt. Ryan C. Berry, a West Point graduate and
devout Roman Catholic, has the backing of Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien,
whose diocese is the U.S. armed forces.

Noting the Air Force's adherence to the motto "Integrity First,"
Archbishop O'Brien wrote to Lt. Berry's commanding general. "I hope Lt.
Berry's moral stand can be seen to be a worthy response to the noble
goal to which that motto challenges," he wrote in the June 23 letter.

But Maj. Gen. Thomas H. Neary, who commands the 20th Air Force missile
arsenal, views the lieutenant's objections as a breach of duty. The
general, who is Catholic, endorses a performance report that called Lt.
Berry's objections' "unprofessional." Gen. Neary has written to
Archbishop O'Brien defending the Air Force's action.

Commanders at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., home to Minuteman III
intercontinental ballistic missiles, at first honored Lt. Berry's
request for a religious accommodation, under service regulations. From
May 1997 to December 1998, he worked only with men on the
around-the-clock, two-officer shifts in 60-to-90-foot-deep control

But higher-ups revoked the exception in December, after some missile
squadron officers, including at least one woman, started complaining.
The punishment to Lt. Berry came in the form of a blistering officer
performance report that he believes will keep him from being promoted
to the rank of captain. If not advanced, he would have to leave the
service in 2002.

In the April performance report, two graders said of the 25-year-old
Lt. Berry: a "highly capable officer . . . cool performer under
pressure . . . flawlessly handles programs . . . keeps our mission on
track. Heap it on him. He can handle it. Talented officer. Boundless

But Col. Ronald Haeckel, his wing commander, in effect overruled them
by penning the potentially career-ending language at the report's end,
which he also put in a memo to Lt. Berry.

"I find your unwillingness to perform prescribed ICBM alert duties with
full qualified female officers as unprofessional," Col. Haeckel wrote.
"You have failed to accept the personal responsibilities of an ICBM
missile combat crew member and that of an officer in the United States
Air Force."
Col. Haeckel said Lt. Berry's stand "adversely impacted good order,
discipline and morale of both male and female ICBM operators."
His supporters say Lt. Berry believes the Air Force overreached by
punishing him for his religious convictions -- the sincerity of which
is not questioned by his superiors.

They argue that the same regulations that permitted the since-revoked
religious accommodation also permit the Air Force to retrain, reassign
or release the person without punishing him through a poor officer

Lt. Berry, whose father began his Air Force career as a missileer at
Minot and now is defense attache in Ukraine, referred a reporter to his
attorney for comment.

"What you have here is a clash between the feminist ideology and
Catholic theology," said the attorney, Henry Hamilton. "The armed
forces have again opted to come down on the side of the feminists and
against traditional morality."

Noting that the Army permits soldiers to practice witchcraft at Fort
Hood, Texas, and other bases, Mr. Hamilton added: "The military can
accommodate whatever they want to accommodate. This is like a
no-brainer, easy thing to do. The reason the Air Force is not
accommodating Lt. Berry is because his views conflict with the feminist
agenda, not because of any difficulty in implementing the
Mr. Hamilton said Lt. Berry does not oppose women serving on missile
crews, but believes the sexes should be kept separate in such close
surroundings. He said the officer did not know men and women worked
alone in the bunker until he arrived at Minot.
The attorney provided quotes from Scripture, such as "abstain from all
appearances of evil," to explain Lt. Berry's objection.

Col. Haeckel, Lt. Berry's wing commander, said in an interview he could
not discuss the case because of privacy rules that the lieutenant
declined to waive.
Col. Haeckel, a 22-year veteran, said he knows of no other case in
which a missileer requested a similar religious exception. Of 333
missile-manning officers, 83 are women.

Minuteman crews are sex-integrated, he said, because "the Air Force has
a policy of equal opportunity treatment. If a women is in a career
field, the Air Force considers her as just as important an asset as any
other member in the unit. We treat each member as the same."
The two-person Minuteman crews normally stand 24-hour shifts in a
command bunker about the size of a school bus. The aisles are narrow.
While one officer sleeps in the bunker's only bed, the other stays on
alert at the control panel. They share a bathroom.
"It's like a large room in a house with different racks of equipment on
either side," Col. Haeckel said.
Lt. Berry also has won the backing of Monsignor William B. Smith, a
prominent professor of moral theology at St. Joseph's Seminary in
Yonkers, N.Y.
Monsignor Smith wrote to Lt. Berry: "It does seem to me that such
intensely proximate bed and bath facilities is closer to the absolute
occasion rather than a relative one. Such arrangements for 24 or 48
continuous hours seem to me to offend common sense, even basic
Christian standards of scandal -- not only what is evil but has the
appearance of evil and is likely to be a stumbling block for others.
"It seems to me that a serious and sober Catholic after thoughtful
prayer and religious counsel, could reasonably and rightly claim that
his/her well-formed conscience does not permit knowing participation in
such unusual, if not, unique circumstances."

Sorry, I almost never send stuff I don't write myself. But this is so
demoralizing I can't stand it.  We are thinking about writing to both
the lieutenant victim (to offer support) , and the sychophant careerist
bootlick "colonel. (to tell him what a horse's ass he is."

It's time to stop this tide of bullshit.


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