Hello. My name is [withheld]. I am in the military and am deployed right now, am 20 years old, and I am also a Christian. I am emailing you with a couple of questions simply to understand what your objectives are for religion and the military. Also, I would like to address your threat to sue the U.S. Government if the DoD did not revoke companies like Homan, ABS, etc, their ability to print bibles with official U.S. Military logos. I believe strongly in two things our Constitution stands for. The right to bear arms and the right to worship any way we choose. I find the Bibles with military logos quite comforting actually. It re-inforces my sense of purpose in what I am doing on the days that just seem like there is no hope. It also makes me even more greatful that we can have such things like religion in our country unlike many others. i would not be offended if I saw a Qur’an or a Torah, or any other piece of religious material with U.S. military logos. It really does give many of us a feeling of peace. Just that print alone. What does make me offended is when I see porn mags and half naked women on the shelves of the PX, but yet, it is somehow unconstitutional to sell a Bible wiht military logos. If you have ever served in the military, you will know that the military does not endorse any faith. Nor does it infringe on our ability to worship. I am asking as a service member, let not only us Christians, but Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, etc, let us have that ability. Any company that prints a Qur’an could have done that exact same thing. If someone doesnt believe, tehy can keep walking. Just as I do with the porn mags. It is an insult to my faith. This is not meant to be bashing anybody and is my opinion, but I just would like to know why it is un-constitutional and how is the military endorsing one particular faith just by allowing someone to print their logos? The reality is, no chain of command endorses anything. I really do feel like my faith is slowly being suppressed because of groups like this. Again, I just want to know. I see no harm in letting Holman or anyone else print military logos on a Bible, or another company print them on a Qur’an, etc. Thank you for your time. – [name withheld].
Hi [name withheld]…
MRFF is in no way trying to prevent service members from buying Bibles. Many people are under the very wrong assumption that we are somehow anti-religion or anti-Christian, but the reality is that 96% of the service members who come to us for help are actually Christians, both Catholic and Protestant. I don’t know what your particular denomination or beliefs are, but the problem is that there is a subset of Christians, usually referred to as fundamentalists and/or dominionists, who really are trying to turn the military into a force of people who all subscribe to their particular brand of Christianity. The reason that so many Christians come to MRFF is that these fundamentalist and dominionist Christians don’t think that any Christians who don’t believe exactly as they do are “real” Christians or Christian “enough.” Many Catholics and mainline Protestants have witnessed and been subjected to the same harassment, discrimination, and proselytizing as members of non-Christian faiths and non-theists have.
The reason for MRFF’s actions to get the official military emblems removed from the Holman Bibles was much more than just the constitutional issue of a government entity endorsing religion. The Holman Bibles also contain a large section of materials promoting an organization called the Officers’ Christian Fellowship (OCF). The OCF is one of the organizations that hold the narrow view that their, and only their, version of Christianity is the right one, and that members of any other Christian denomination that doesn’t believe exactly what they believe aren’t good enough Christians. The other issue with these Bibles is that they violate the JER and specific branch regulations that prohibit the endorsement of a non-federal entity. The OCF is a non-federal entity, so allowing an official military emblem on a book promoting the OCF, as these particular Bibles do, is in clear violation of these regulations.
Holman Bible Publishers can, and are, continuing to make their Bibles available in PXs and BXs. They just no longer can have the official military emblems on them. This really should make no difference to Christian service members such as yourself. It would only matter to the type of Christians whose main motive is not for people to read the Bible, but to have their particular kind of Christianity officially endorsed as the “right kind” of Christianity by the government over all the other kinds of Christianity that millions of service members believe in.
Hopefully, this clears things up for you.
Senior Research Director
Military Religious Freedom Foundation