Removing bible from va facilities and the 8th army bible

So someone goes to a military ball on his own free will. And a traditional show of respect is done. And there is a complaint. Instead of just leaving if it was so offensive. Plus having a bible at any function is me practicing my freedom of religion. I didn’t read where he was forced to pick it up, pledge his allegiance to the book and then read from it. Maybe just ignore the table. In all my years in the service, I’ve never heard if someone didn’t believe in the Bible they didn’t fit in or ostracized. What is next…if a veteran is of a different country but served in the US service. But his flag from country of origin isn’t posted in the VA facilities….remove the American flag because he feels slighted. It seems that some organizations are problem causing instead of conflict resolution. Plus his beliefs are so offended but has to remain anonymous. Creating drama and issues that the chain of command has to address instead of taking care of….maybe issues in South Korea. Since North Korea is only several kilometers away launching missiles or just being a dictator ran country.

(name withheld)


Good Evening, Sir or Ma’am –

Thanks for your email to the MRFF. Mikey Weinstein has read your note, as he does all correspondence we receive, and has asked me to respond. In addition to being a staunch supporter of the MRFF, I am also a lifelong, committed and active Christian, a USAF Academy graduate (’85), and a veteran USAF officer.
You indicate in your note that you also have a military background, yet you seem not to understand the obligations of governmental and military organizations with respect to religious expression. Specifically, the issue of the inclusion of the Christian Bible in an officially sanctioned display in a government building or at a military function has nothing to do with anyone being offended. Rather, it has everything to do with the requirement that the US government, including the military, maintain a neutral stance that does not favor or promote one religious belief over other beliefs, or belief over non-belief, or non-belief over belief.

Everyone at the MRFF feels it is vitally important to remember and honor the service and sacrifice of POW/MIA patriots and their families. The vast majority of us are current or former military members, of course, and are also people of faith, mostly Christians. But our ranks also include many honorable men and women who do not share our religious beliefs.

Similarly, we recognize that the ranks of POW/MIA and their families also include people of diverse religious beliefs, including non-belief. As such, the inclusion of the Christian Bible in a POW/MIA display or ceremony is not only inappropriate from a Constitutional perspective but is also disrespectful of many of the people who are supposedly being honored.

As for your effort to draw a comparison to naturalized veterans, your logic falls short in two respects. First, every veteran of the US military regardless of where they were born served under the US flag, so your argument is a red herring from the start. But more critically, the principles on which the US was founded and which are expressed in our Constitution speak volumes about both the importance of personal religious liberty and the need for our government to keep its nose out of it.
So that’s it. No desire to cause problems or create drama. Just a desire to see our Constitution upheld.
Thanks again for writing.
Peace,
Mike Challman
Christian, USAF veteran, MRFF supporter

Your argument still holds no merit. By removing the Bible your argument supports the beliefs in those who don’t believe in it and do not want it present. So it goes in both directions. Plus what about the other items which are placed on the POW/MIS table. The significance of those items also have meaning. So what about those who may not agree with the meaning of that.

The Constitution says freedom of religion, so their nose is in it roughly stating. That’s why we have and need the constitution. Plus you’re arguing a point of the POW’s might not have believed what the table display stands for. No one knows that because they are dead. So you are assuming what they may or may not have believed in. Again the only one who had issues with it was a person who was present on his own accord and was not required to be present. So he voluntarily went into a place and then raised issue with what was being done. That in a nut shell negates any complaining


Thanks for your reply. A few comments of my own in response –

Your suggestion that the absence of any particular sectarian religious text, in this case a Christian Bible, is an endorsement of some opposing belief is simply not true… rather, it reflects a position of neutrality, which is precisely what is required of our governmental and military institutions.

As for the other items on the POW/MIA display, none of those has any sort of sectarian religious meaning and none of them are related to a Constitutionally protected liberty. The issue at stake here is not whether someone agrees with the meaning of any particular symbol… rather, it is whether the use of a particular item promotes or gives preference to a particular religious belief. it is neutrality in that regard which the Constitution demands, and that is the principle which the MRFF supports.

You should also be aware that your presumption that no one knows what POW’s believe “because they are dead” is both dismissive and flat wrong. First off, many former POW’s are alive and well — I personally know two of these brave patriots, one a Vietnam POW and the other a Gulf War I POW. As well, there are many family members of POW and MIA who are alive and well, and who deserve to be remembered by all of us in an appropriate and respectful way.

I understand you are keen to dismiss the concerns we are raising, but you are on the wrong side of this one. Still, thanks for the discussion.

Peace, 

Mike C


Hello Your Name,

You miss the point. The  separation of church and state – you’ve heard of it? – means that the U.S. Government in all its parts, which includes the military, cannot endorse or promote one religion, faith or belief system over

another. You’re welcome to practice your religion but you’re not welcome to decorate official military events with artifacts of it. I don’t know how you’d feel if someone put a Koran there, but it might help make the point.

As far as showing respect is concerned, the placement of a Bible on the table certainly doesn’t show respect for those of other faiths or non-believers.

Your point about flags is a different matter as they are not religious symbols. That would be up, one assumes, to those in charge of the event.

As to anonymity, you might be surprised – but then you might not – to learn that someone expressing concern about the inappropriateness of using the Bible as a universal show of respect might meet not only criticism but

career difficulties emanating from those in authority who decided the action made them assume he or she was anti-Christian.

I hope that helps.

Mike Farrell
(MRFF Board of Advisors)

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3 Comments

  1. Connie

    Letter writer states:
    “In all my years in the service, I’ve never heard if someone didn’t believe in the Bible they didn’t fit in or ostracized. What is next…if a veteran is of a different country but served in the US service. But his flag from country of origin isn’t posted in the VA facilities….remove the American flag because he feels slighted. It seems that some organizations are problem causing instead of conflict resolution. Plus his beliefs are so offended but has to remain anonymous. Creating drama and issues that the chain of command has to address instead of taking care of….maybe issues in South Korea. Since North Korea is only several kilometers away launching missiles or just being a dictator ran country.”

    The chain of command has addressed? Seriously letter writer? I am amazed at your ignorance. Do you know what my late husband (Once a Marine, always a Marine) was commanded to do on Sundays? He could either go to church or clean the latrines. As he was NOT Christian, he cleaned every Sunday. Because he was Asatru he was run out of the Corps but of course YOU weren’t there to witness – or if you were did you even notice?

    I’m betting you’ve never given any thought to anyone that isn’t of your faith or your family. Well, there have been thoughts but not anything worth repeating here. Hatred in the name of faith is still hatred after all. I don’t know how you live with yourself to be honest.

    I am offended when Christians take an oath swearing to uphold the Constitution against all enemies foreign or domestic and then break that vow to push their faith, in spite of regulations that should be protecting soldiers. I am outraged when people like Boykin are allowed, and encouraged by people who should know better, to promote their ‘religious’ war when the USA is very carefully secular. I would love nothing more than to end some people for their hateful ways; I don’t because the Constitution promises equality for all – even spiritual rapists.

    Personally I’m ready to throw the baby out with the bathwater, give credence to these whiners that they are persecuted. Let them have a taste of what they’ve been dishing out for over a thousand years. I already know they can’t take it. What stops me is the very person the Evangelicals try to shove down my throat. Violence is the first solution of the incompetent -so says the great minds of the planet throughout history. As I am very competent I must find another way. However, the path could be in front of me and I’d miss it, my desire to smite someone is that strong.

    I totally wish there was a smart stick – then I’d feel better about the hitting part. 🙂

  2. Angela Schweig

    Connie,
    I had to Google Asturu. I have no doubt that your husband hounded out of the Corps by weak-minded ignorant, STUPID, and, (of course) intolerant Dominionists attempting to “save his soul” (I hope I don’t puke on my tablet). I’m sorry a noble Marine had such despicable indignities thrust on him. You speak of him in the past tense, so I assume that he is gone. SEMPER FI. Are you also Asturu? Blessed Be.

  3. G

    “In all my years in the service, I’ve never heard if someone didn’t believe in the Bible they didn’t fit in or ostracized. What is next…if a veteran is of a different country but served in the US service. But his flag from country of origin isn’t posted in the VA facilities….remove the American flag because he feels slighted. It seems that some organizations are problem causing instead of conflict resolution.”

    Well if you don’t like foreigners serving in the American armed forces, then we should ban them from servicing.

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