Removal of bibles

You people are ignorant assholes and should not even be part of the human race.
(name withheld)

Dear (name withheld),
From the brevity and nastiness of your email, I suspect that you are probably unwilling to consider a reasoned response… but I’m going to offer one anyway.  I’m a lifelong, active Christian, a USAF veteran, and an MRFF supporter.
I’d ask you to consider several things:
First, it is possible to hold a position which differs from your own and yet is neither ‘ignorant’ nor being an ‘asshole’.
Second, it is possible to hold a position which differs from your own and yet still remain ‘part of the human race’.
Third, based on your email’s subject line, I assume that you were prompted to write after reading about the issue which has been raised about POW/MIA remembrance tables at several VA facilities.  I’ll also assume that, like me, you are a Christian. Finally, I’ll assume that you automatically take umbrage to the Christian Bible’s removal from those tables because you consider the act to be disrespectful toward Christians.
On my first two observations, I’ve little to offer beyond a statement of regret that, like too many people today, you find it difficult to disagree without turning to personal attacks… and to point out that, at the very least, your commentary does not reflect Christian values.
As to the third point, it is worth highlighting something about which you may not be aware.
Not all POW/MIA heroes were (or are) Christians. To suggest that the presence of a Christian Bible somehow honors both Christians and non-Christians alike is nonsensical.  And given that the POW/MIA remembrance tables are supposed to honor the service and sacrifice of all POW/MIA, it is obvious on its face that highlighting the religious beliefs of one portion of that group is misguided and presumptuous.
There are other, quite valid, legal reasons to conclude that the emphasis of one religious sectarian belief over all others is inappropriate in these circumstances… but I’ll leave it to others to expound on those arguments.  For me, the important thing as a Christian and a veteran can be summed up in the following statement.
I strongly support every effort to remember the sacrifice of all POW/MIA.  At the same time, I would never want my personal expression of religious belief to diminish the amount of honor and respect that is owed to those who sacrificed so greatly to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. There is a time and place to proclaim my personal beliefs, and there also is a time and a place to offer a simple and grateful “Thank You” to everyone who gave so much of themselves in order to protect my freedom to believe as I do….. including the many heroes who don’t happen to share my religious beliefs.
Is removing the Bible disrespectful of Christian POW/MIA?  No. But leaving it in place is certainly disrespectful of non-Christian POW/MIA.
Mike Challman
Christian, USAF veteran, MRFF supporter

Hey (name withheld),

Too much Fox News is not good for your digestion. When you swallow all the

stuff the put out it makes you cranky and stupid.

I know freedom is hard for some to comprehend, but that’s the price of being an

American. You might try it some time.

Mike Farrell

(MRFF Board of Advisors)

A lengthy rationalization.  I happen to be Jewish, and a veteran and it does not bother me one bit if a Christian bible is on display anywhere.  People like you are destroying the country.  You sicken me.  It would not surprise me if those that think like you would be happy if only the Koran was on display.  But I bet you would never raise objections if it was the Koran.
May God frown on your kind forever.
(name withheld)

Dear (name withheld)
I would suggest that you seek first to understand, then to be understood. You and I have never met.  You haven’t had the opportunity to learn my motivations, my perspective, or top even understand my position on the same matter that’s causing you such clear distress.  If you have enough personal courage and character to participate in a genuine dialogue, I’d be happy to overlook your careless insults and share with you what we are genuinely working towards, and why. If you are committed to belligerence, I can’t help you.  The ball is in your court.
Blake Page

Dear (name withheld),

We people are each very well educated, well informed, and in spite of your own projections, very much a part of the human race.


Blake A Page
Military Religious Freedom Foundation
Special Assistant to the President
Director of US Army Affairs

Dear (name withheld),
The only “ignorant assholes” are the ones that are deceiving you and others by omission, deception, lies and fear in their writings.
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 45,200+ 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 view 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.
Here’s a history lesson for you that the media – especially Christian media – will never tell you. They are the ones that are untruthful and deceiving when they’ve been given the following facts but choose to ignore them.
“…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 Bible on the table violates the “separation of church and state” in the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.
The Supreme Court heard the Lemon v. Kurtzman case in 1971 and ruled in favor of the Establishment ClauseSubsequent 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
The Bible on the table violates the Lemon Test.
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 uncle was an atheist and is MIA.
In other words, if you want a Bible on the POW/MIA table you have to include the Torah, 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, they removed the Bible. 
The blame is placed squarely at their feet…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
The laws concerning civilian religious freedom and military religious freedom are different. We have no interest in what the civilian population does and if you heard that we are, then you have been lied to.
Pastor Joan
MRFF Advisory Board Member

Dear (name withheld),
Wow.  Were you on the debate team?  Because that is one killer argument you have!  I hope you do not have the audacity to call yourself a Christian after spewing such hate.
Blessed be,
Tobanna Barker
MRFF Legal Affairs Coordinator

Move to Syria.  I know of some terrorists who probably like the way you people think.
(name withheld)

No need, we get plenty of practice with Know-Nothing terrorists here.

Mike Farrell

(MRFF Board of Advisors)

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1 Comment

  1. Rev Bob

    Dear Mike,

    For someone who is Catholic, I am shocked that even you refer the bible as a Christian bible, there is nothing Christian about it. Both the Old and New Testaments are Jewish in origin, all the authors of the scriptures were Jewish save for Luke, but that can be debated as well. Jesus never came to start a new religion called Christianity, he came to bring a new covenant as mentioned in Jeremiah. He came to take Judaism to a new level. Even for the first 100 years after the death and resurrection of Christ, the “church” was Jewish in origin and still met in synagogues or in peoples homes.

    Everything about Christianity is Jewish in nature from the scriptures to the founders. I still think it is funny that many in the Catholic church refer to Peter as the first pope, yet they do not realize that if he was the first pope, which he was not, was Jewish!! The position of pope did not come until how many hundreds of years later.

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