Navy officials have opened an investigation regarding the placement of a Bible in a public display about POW/MIAs at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Okinawa following formal complaints from an anti-Christian foundation.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) brought the complaint, claiming the presence of a Bible in the military display violates the Constitution, in particular, the First Amendment clause that forbids government establishment of religion.
The complaint reads:
The issue here is that by including a Bible as part of the POW/MIA Display in the public Galley, it signifies two things. First, that this is an official, command-endorsed Display. Second, that the command is endorsing Christianity (versus other major religions or non-religious beliefs) as expressed in the Christian Bible to the total exclusion of any other belief systems or non-belief traditions.
The MRFF was founded by Michael “Mikey” Weinstein in 2005 to oppose the spread of alleged religious intimidation by Christians in the U.S. military but has been described as an anti-Christian bigotry group by the American Family Association, which claims the group itself uses intimidation to remove any reference to Christianity from the public square. The Christian Wire refers to Mikey Weinstein as an “anti-Christian activist” for his war on Christians in the military.
Weinstein has characterized the group’s target as “incredibly well-funded gangs of fundamentalist Christian monsters who terrorize their fellow Americans by forcing their weaponized and twisted version of Christianity upon their helpless subordinates in our nation’s armed forces.”
As Breitbart News reported, Obama administration Pentagon appointees met with Weinstein in 2013 to develop court-martial procedures to punish Christians in the military who express or share their faith.
According to Weinstein, Christians who share the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the military are guilty of “treason” and of committing an act of “spiritual rape,” as serious a crime as “sexual assault.” He also said that Christians in the military who share their faith are “enemies of the Constitution.”
In the case of the Okinawa display, Weinstein attacked not only the presence of the Bible, but also a small placard on the display, which reads, “The Bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain those lost from our country, founded one nation under God.”
Weinstein said the placard’s wording and its translation into Japanese is a form of proselytizing. “We’re having our lawyers look at whether or not this violates the Status of Forces Agreement or the treaty we have with Japan,” he said.
“Christianity gets no special treatment in the eyes of the law,” he added.
The Navy’s official blog in 2014 proposed the display of a Bible and similar language for tables set up to honor prisoners of war and military members missing in action.
Mark Stephensen, vice chairman of the National League of POW/MIA Families, said there was “no bias intended” in placing a Bible on a “Missing Man” table, noting the importance of religious faith for sustaining POWs.
“The Bible was always intended to be there,” said Stephensen, whose father, a U.S. Air Force Colonel, died in Vietnam. “The POWs held in Hanoi vehemently turned to God for comfort and safety and persistence.”
“I don’t see where the harm is,” he said. “If somebody’s going to take offense to it, they’re making a conscious effort to be offended.”
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