Buddhist hall opens at Air Force chapel | VailDaily.com

Buddhist hall opens at Air Force chapel

AIR FORCE ACADEMY ” Air Force cadets who practice Buddhism now have a place of their own to gather under the aluminum spires of the academy’s famed chapel.

The 300-square foot Vast Refuge Dharma Hall in the chapel’s basement opened Monday, with about two dozen people gathering to chant to the beat of a drum.

The academy has 26 cadets who practice Buddhism, up from 16 earlier this year.

Religion has been a controversial topic at the academy, with a group of graduates claiming that evangelical Christian values have been pushed onto cadets. Their lawsuit was dismissed last year because a judge said they couldn’t claim their rights were violated because they no longer attended the academy.

Norman Oberstein of the Lenz Foundation for American Buddhism said the opening of the chapel shows that the military has grown to accept all kinds of faiths.

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“It has reached out to overcome those challenges,” said Oberstein, whose group made a contribution toward the $85,000 cost of the hall.

The academy’s chapel also hosts Protestant, Catholic and Jewish services. Dozens of other religious and non-religious groups also meet in the building.

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