You may have heard about the new pagan worship circle recently constructed at the Air Force Academy in Colorado. The Academy is already known for its unique chapel, as well as for providing worship sites for various religions (including a Jewish synagogue, a Buddhist chapel, and a Muslim prayer room). In this military institution’s efforts to protect the rights of United States citizens, including freedom of religion, they have gradually provided such outlets for their own cadets.
You may have also heard about a recent incident at the pagan worship circle at the Academy: a large wooden cross was left at the site. Adherents and proponents of the pagan group have responded with outrage, calling it a “hate crime” and “destructive behavior,” among other things. They have compared it to placing a menorah near a nativity scene, or a pentagram or other pagan symbol at the altar in Cadet Chapel.
My opinion on the matter (whatever the opinion of one, lowly preacher is worth) is this: they are right.
Can you imagine the response if the roles in the incident were reversed, if a pagan symbol had been placed in the chapel? Christians would be outraged! We (they) would demand investigations and justice and apologies. But, a cross is placed at a pagan worship circle, and I expect many if not most Christians will either scoff at the pagan response, or wholeheartedly approve of the placement of the cross.
This is, I believe, Golden Rule territory: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them,” (Matthew 7:12). This is, I believe, Paul’s Rule territory: “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some,” (1Corinthians 9:22). In the very least, I believe that all this act has accomplished is to produce harder hearts–on both sides of the religious fence.
I pray that we can learn to show the love Paul showed to the Greek philosophers as he complimented and respected them while he attempted to influence them for good. I pray that we can return to the love of the early church, when they had “favor with all the people.” I pray that we Christians stop making these mistakes that can only further alienate us from the rest of the world. Our job is just too important.