The POW-MIA TABLE

As being a Combat veitnam Veteran I strongly disagree with the VA move on removing the BIBLE from the table of the missing POW’MIA.WE GAVE ARE WORD NEVER TO FORGET, WE GAVE ARE WORD SO HELP ME GOD WHEN WE ENTERED THE SEVICE.IF I HAD MONEY I WOULD MAKE YOU PAY FOR THE UNJUST YOU GAVE TO MY BROTHERS WHO’S NAMES ARE ON THE WALL.
WITH A SAD HEART

(name withheld)


 

Dear (name withheld),

My brother is a combat Vietnam veteran and my uncle is MIA from WWII. Both of them are /were atheists and neither of them do/would approve of only the Bible on the table.

 

We are not asking for the military to give up their religion but to obey our laws concerning religious neutrality. That’s why there are Chaplains and chapels to practice their personal beliefs.

 

The days of sucking it up, look the other way, don’t listen to it or don’t read it if you don’t like it are over. Today’s soldiers will not put up with the flagrant breaking of our laws.

 

We are neither an atheist organization nor are we anti-Christian. Mikey is Jewish (and prays to the same Father we do 3 times a day) and 80% of the Board, Advisory Board, volunteers and supporters (244 in total) of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) are Christians. In fact, 96% of our 43,500+ soldier clients are Christians – Catholics, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodist, Lutherans, Baptists, Evangelicals, etc. We fight for the rights of these Christians more than any other religion but it never makes the news.

It is not our opinion that the Bible has no place on a POW/MIA table but the Constitution and subsequent Supreme Court rulings that we must obey.

As defenders of the Constitution we fight for the separation of church and state.

 

“…but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” (Article I, III)

This means that from the President to Congress to the military – no one’s job is based on their religion.

 

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion (Establishment Clause), or prohibiting the free exercise thereof (Free Exercise Clause).”(First Amendment)

 

The Establishment Clause means that you cannot favor one religion over another even though it is in the majority. This clause respects the RIGHTS of all religions. Our military is SECULAR and there are people of other faiths that don the uniform that love this country.

 

The Free Exercise Clause (which is subservient to the Establishment Clause) means that our soldiers are free to exercise any religion they want or no religion at all but cannot elevate one God above others.

 

“Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person’s life, freedom of religion affects every individual. Religious institutions that use government power in support of themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths, or of no faith, undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of an established religion tends to make the clergy unresponsive to their own people, and leads to corruption within religion itself. Erecting the “wall of separation between church and state,” therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society.” Thomas Jefferson, to the Virginia Baptists (1808) ME 16:320.

 

This is his second known use of the term “wall of separation,” here quoting his own use in the Danbury Baptist letter.

 

This wording of the original was several times upheld by the Supreme Court as an accurate description of the Establishment Clause.

 

Jefferson’s concept of “separation of church and state” first became a part of Establishment Clause jurisprudence in Reynolds v. U.S., 98 U.S. 145 (1878). In that case, the court examined the history of religious liberty in the US, determining that while the constitution guarantees religious freedom, “The word ‘religion’ is not defined in the Constitution. We must go elsewhere, therefore, to ascertain its meaning and nowhere more appropriately, we think, than to the history of the times in the midst of which the provision was adopted.” The court found that the leaders in advocating and formulating the constitutional guarantee of religious liberty were James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. Quoting the “separation” paragraph from Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists, the court concluded that, “coming as this does from an acknowledged leader of the advocates of the measure, it may be accepted almost as an authoritative declaration of the scope and effect of the amendment thus secured.

 

In 1878 “separation of church and state” became part of the Establishment Clause BY LAW.

 

The Supreme Court heard the Lemon v. Kurtzman case in 1971 and ruled in favor of the Establishment Clause.

 

Subsequent to this decision, the Supreme Court has applied a three-pronged test to determine whether government action comports with the Establishment Clause, known as the Lemon Test:

 

Government action violates the Establishment Clause unless it:
1. Has a significant secular (i.e., non-religious) purpose,
2. Does not have the primary effect of advancing or inhibiting religion
3. Does not foster excessive entanglement between government and religion

 

Parker v. Levy:

“This Court has long recognized that the military is, by necessity, a specialized society separate from civilian society… While the members of the military are not excluded from the protection granted by the First Amendment, the different character of the military community and of the military mission requires a different application of those protections. … The fundamental necessity for obedience, and the consequent necessity for imposition of discipline, may render permissible within the military that which would be constitutionally impermissible outside it… Speech [in any form] that is protected in the civil population may nonetheless undermine the effectiveness of response to command.  If it does, it is constitutionally unprotected.” (Emphasis added) Parker v. Levy, 417 U.S. 733, 1974

 

The Bible on the table does not represent all of the 83,000+ POW/MIA’s. Within the missing are soldiers of other beliefs or of no belief system and to deny this is ludicrous, especially since my brother and uncle are atheists.

 

In other words, if you want a Bible on the POW/MIA table you have to include the Tanakh, Koran, representations of other religions and atheism in order to be in compliance with the Constitution, Lemon Test and Parker v. Levy. It’s either all religions or none but because some Christians don’t want to share the table, the Bible had to be removed.

 

The blame is placed squarely at their feet because of their intolerance…not ours.

 

“I am for freedom of religion and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect above another.”

Thomas Jefferson’s letter to Elbridge Gerry January 26, 1799

 

Pastor Joan

MRFF Advisory Board Member


 

Hi (name withheld),

Your message is a bit hard to follow, but what is clear is your concern for those whose names are on the wall. That’s fine. We all share that concern. But you must realize that many of those whose names are on the wall were not Christians, so the Bible you’re so concerned about didn’t represent them. And many Christians, like the ones who asked us to intervene and get the Bible removed, are sensitive to their brothers being of different belief systems, so they said it was inappropriate that the Bible be featured.

I hope that eases your concern and lifts the sadness from your heart.

Mike Farrell

(MRFF Board of Advisors)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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