Judicial Watch: Air Force Academy Uses “Chapel Tithes and Offering Fund” to Pay for Cadets’ Attendance at Festivals Celebrating Witchcraft, “Faery Magick,” and Voodoo
FEBRUARY 24, 2016
Documents reveal that cadets were taught to “dance with ecstasy around the maypole” and “conjure Springtime within… yourself”
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that on October 8, 2015, it obtained documents from the United States Air Force Academy revealing that in 2014 and 2015, the Academy used its “Chapel Tithes and Offering Fund” to pay for cadets to participate in worship services featuring witchcraft, “Faery Magick,” and voodoo. The records reveal that the Air Force Academy paid to send cadets to a Wiccan festival in Denver in May 2014 and a Denver Witches Ball in October of the same year.
The Tithes and Offering Fund, though funded by “free-will donations,” is also defined as “an instrumentality of the United States Government.”
According to a promotional brochure obtained by Judicial Watch, a group called “Spiritual Programs in Religious Education” hosted events at the Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel Falcon Circle on the Academy campus. The Academy website describes Falcon Circle as “The worship area [for]… an umbrella of traditions that includes Wicca, Paganism and Druidism.”
The Air Force Academy documents were obtained in response to an October 8, 2015, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for:
Any and all records regarding, concerning or relating to “Earth-based” worship service events occurring at the [Air Force Academy] campus in the 2013/14 academic years, including but not limited to, programs, hand-outs, proposals, agreements, contracts, invoices, budget documents, and related materials.
The response included an invoice from a vendor called “Living Earth” indicating that in March 28, 2014, the Academy was billed $260 for “worship-supplies-fellowship” for activities described as a “Festival.” According to a purchase request, the $260 to pay Living Earth was drawn from the Academy’s Church Tithes and Offerings Fund under the accounting class “Wiccan.”
Chapel Tithes and Offering Funds were used to pay for registration and meals for two cadets to attend the May 10-11, 2014, “Earth Centered Beltania festival.” According to the Living Earth website, the Beltania Festival is “a retreat and festival for all who follow Earth-honoring religion or spiritual path.” At the festival, attendees are encouraged to “dance with ecstasy around the maypole,” “drum with the heartbeat of Mother Earth”, and “conjure Springtime within nature and yourself.”
The documents also contained an October 24, 2014, purchase request, for $120 for the Academy to send four cadets to the “23rd Annual Denver Witches Ball.” The ball was held at a masonic temple in Denver, and the four attendees were described in the purchase request as “Earth Centered/Pagan Cadets.”
The Air Force Academy documents also included an October 22, 2014, email from the DFGL [Distinctive Faith Group Leader] at the Air Force Academy to an Academy official who apparently had asked for copies of any advertisements for earth-based worship services in order to fulfill the Judicial Watch FOIA request. In the email, the Distinctive Faith Group Leader strongly argued that he/she had “not used any kind of advertising” to promote the pagan/wiccan/voodoo ceremonies in which Academy cadets participated.
Despite the group leader’s claim that the Earth-Centered Services “does NOT proselytize,” the material from the Academy FOIA office included a promotional brochure from the Spiritual Programs in Religious Education group with which the group leader acknowledged he works. According to the Spiritual Programs in Religious Education brochure, the organization encourages festival participants to engage in “Earth Centered paths,” including:
- Faery Magick
- Native American traditions
- African Orishas
- Goddess Spirituality
In 2013, the Air Force Academy made “so help me God” optional to its cadet oath. Since 2014, the Air Force has allowed airmen to omit “so help me God” from enlistment oaths. The Family Research Council (FRC) has been keeping a record of incidents of hostility to religion within the armed services: “Unfortunately, pressures to impose a secular, anti-religious culture on our nation’s military services have intensified tremendously during the Obama Administration. This pressure exists across the armed services, but it has become extremely acute in the United States Air Force (USAF).”
“The Air Force Academy leadership is attacking traditional Christian beliefs but will fund witchcraft and ‘faery magick’?” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “These records show the misplaced priorities in the Air Force and why traditional Christians increasingly feel unwelcome in the Air Force Academy.”