A seminar at the Air Force Academy that had been organized to discuss religion and war removed several movie clips from its presentation after receiving complaints that the clips were anti-Catholic, the Colorado Springs Gazette reports.
A Wednesday seminar on war and religion planned to show clips from “Constantine’s Sword,” a documentary based on a book by James Carroll.
Among the complainants was the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. Catholic League President Bill Donohue in an April 8 press release called Carroll, a columnist for the Boston Globe, an “embittered ex-priest.” Donohue claimed the book on which the movie was based had been “widely discredited.”
According to The Gazette, Donohue called the documentary "a propaganda film that trashes Catholicism."
The event’s sponsors at the Air Force Academy decided at the last minute against using clips from the film. The seminar, titled “USA’s War on Terror: Not a Battle Between Christianity and Islam,” was delayed 25 minutes as organizers debated whether to show the clips. Some of the clips reportedly included scenes describing alleged religious discrimination at the academy between 2003 and 2005.
The event had been organized to counter charges of bias from Muslims and others who believed a February seminar presented by former terrorists characterized Islam as a dangerous religion.
Wednesday’s speakers argued that the U.S. military’s alleged embrace of Christianity makes Muslims think the Iraq war is about converting Muslims to Christianity. Panelists showed a five-minute film compilation of news stories alleging religious discrimination against non-Christians. Photos showed military personnel holding Bibles and military leaders using terms like “holy war” and “crusade” when talking about the Iraq war.
The panelists were former U.S. ambassador Joseph Wilson, Islamic scholar Reza Aslan, and Air Force Academy graduate Mikey Weinstein. Weinstein sued the Air Force in 2005, alleging the Air Force encouraged evangelical Christians’ proselytizing of cadets. The case was dismissed before going to trial.
In an April 10 statement, Bill Donohue said he was “delighted” the academy “made the right decision.”
“The film is based on an anti-Catholic book written by an angry ex-priest who has no credentials in the subject area,” he said.
Donohue said that he had discussed the issue with the academy’s superintendent, Lt. Gen. John F. Regni, and considered the matter “closed.”
“We know there have been accusations of religious bias on the campus, and if that is true, it needs to be rooted out,” Donohue said. “What can never be tolerated is to slam one religion while purportedly addressing religious intolerance expressed toward another religion.”