Atheist Group Sues to Remove Bible from New Hampshire Veterans Affairs POW Display

In this photo provided by the Office of Public Affairs, Manchester VA Medical Center, a Bible is displayed at the Manchester VA Medical Center in Manchester, N.H. Two organizations are fighting over the display of the Bible at the medical center. The Bible was carried by a prisoner of war …
Office of Public Affairs, Manchester VA Medical Center via AP

An atheist group is demanding that a Veterans Affairs hospital in New Hampshire remove a Bible from a POW display in the facility’s public space.

A lawsuit was filed against the hospital by the anti-Christian Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), a group with a history of attacking Christians across the country. The lawsuit calls the display of the Christian Bible an “outrage” and a violation of the U.S. Constitution, Fox News reported.

MRFF claims it filed the suit on behalf of a New Hampshire veteran named James Chamberlain.

“As a Christian, [Chamberlain] respects and loves all his military brothers and sisters and does not want to be exclusionary by placement of the Christian Bible,” the filing says.

Mikey Weinstein, the founder of the anti-Christian organization, attacked the display, saying it was a “repugnant example of fundamentalist Christian triumphalism, exceptionalism, superiority, and domination, and it cannot stand.”

For its part, the facility did remove the Bible from the POW display when the MRFF first complained. But the book was returned to the display when the veterans protested its removal.

“Everybody’s entitled to their opinion, but I think it’s a shame,” veteran Paul Martin said, according to WMUR. “It would be a shame that that Bible be taken from that table.”

“It’s a spiritual item that many of us veterans look to for support,” another veteran, Marine Guy Emerson said. “I think it would be a shame and a sin to remove it.”

“I feel this is a sacred place, and it should be respected,” said Air Force veteran John Fee. “The Bible is part of the reckoning that there are people left behind.”

The Bible is not just a random item. “It was donated to Manchester VA Medical Center by former U.S. Army Air Corps Technical Sergeant Herman ‘Herk’ Streitburger, of Bedford, who was held captive in a German Prisoner of War camp during World War II,” Fox reported.

Department of Veteran Affairs press secretary Curt Cashour took a swipe at the MRFF.

“This lawsuit – backed by a group known for questionable practices and unsuccessful lawsuits – is nothing more than an attempt to force VA into censoring a show of respect for America’s POW/MIA community. Make no mistake: VA will not be bullied on this issue,” Cashour said.

Mike Berry, chief of staff at the First Liberty Institute, said the lawsuit was frivolous.

“POW/MIA Remembrance displays have a long, cherished history in our nation,” Berry told Fox. “Veterans organizations like the Northeast POW/MIA Network should be able to honor and remember those killed, captured or missing with a display that includes a Bible donated by a WWII veteran that represents the strength through faith necessary for American service members to survive.”

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.

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