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Gazette Premium Content Senator says academy wasted cash

TOM ROEDER Updated: December 20, 2011 at 12:00 am

A U.S. senator from Oklahoma included an Air Force academy project in his annual report on government waste.

Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn says the $51,000 spent on academy’s new outdoor chapel for earth-centered religions was wasteful. He added it to his “Wastebook 2011”, which details $6.5 billion in what Coburn considers waste.

The academy, which has separate chapels for Buddhist, Jewish, Catholic and protestant worshipers, unveiled the outdoor chapel this year as part of its ongoing effort to practice religious respect.

In the academy’s defense, the outdoor chapel, a circle of rocks surrounding a propane-powered fire pit, could be the least expensive chapel in modern Department of Defense history.

The academy said the chapel was built in a effort to ensure that all religious beliefs are accomodated.

"Technically, there is no designated worship space for the Earth-Centered Spirituality, atheist or humanist cadets similar to the Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Buddhist Cadet Faith Communities," the academy wrote in a statement. "The Cadet Chapel Falcon Circle, an outdoor worship space, is available to all cadet faith communities to use with the earth-centered spirituality cadets having scheduling priority."

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