Bibles

Great article.  God bless the ACLJ.  I hope they continue to pursue remedies for these ridiculous claims promoted by “Mikey” Weinstein and his group.   Mikey, do you realize how childish and petulant you appear to be?  You remind me of the current crop of helpless millenials on campus, those delicate flowers who need “safe places” to seek comfort and assuage the fear they feel from “offensive” words.   Can I send you a pillow or a stuffed animal to hug Mikey???   I’m sure you are an educated man and a man of many talents, so why don’t you cease this harassment and go find something useful to do with your life.

 

The VA is gutless.  They need to “grow a pair” to stand up to this undue harassment from the so-called “MRFF”.  It pains me to know that the MRFF enjoys tax-free status as a non-profit and that my hard-earned tax dollars are used to support your wretched organization.  I only wish I had the monetary resources to contribute to legal action against your ill advised group or to file my own action against the MRFF as an aggrieved US veteran.

 

Sincerely,

A Vietnam combat vet

 

The French have an expression that’s right on the mark with respect to the actions of Mr. Michael “Mikey” Weinstein and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF): Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose (which, freely translated, means, “the more things change, the more they remain the same”).

Mr. Weinstein, President and Founder of MRFF, is currently waging a pitched battle, this time aimed at removing a single Gideon Bible placed with generally available reading materials for patients at a Veteran Administration (VA) clinic in Athens, Ohio. His argument—wait for it—is that putting religious literature, like a Bible, with otherwise generally available reading material in a VA clinic, somehow violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution of the United States.

In fact, he has been on an anti-“New-Testament-Bible” (using Mr. Weinstein’s words) warpath of late, writing to various VA facilities demanding that any and all Bibles be removed forthwith. To make matters worse, some VA officials have actually caved to his demands. In his most recent anti-Bible foray, Mr. Weinstein contacted the VA Mental Health Clinic in Athens, Ohio, demanding that a Gideon Bible be removed, and the Athens Clinic actually responded, removed the ONE Bible found in one of the waiting rooms, and, in essence, apologized to Mr. Weinstein.

Here’s the problem: government-run facilities, like VA facilities, may not generally single out religious expression for detrimental treatment. In other words, if non-religious literature is available for use by persons waiting for appointments, for example, religious material cannot be excluded.  Once again, Mr. Weinstein has concocted a Constitutional crisis where none, in fact, exists. Worse, VA’s actions to seek out and remove only religious materials actually violated the law!

This is where the ACLJ comes in. Because we refuse to allow Mr. Weinstein’s flawed understanding of the Constitution and the laws of the United States to go unchecked, we recently sent a letter to the Secretary of Veteran Affairs explaining why Mr. Weinstein’s complaint is completely off-base and urging the Secretary and his legal advisors to ensure that employees throughout the Department understand that they may not single out the Bible or other types of religious expression for detrimental treatment.

Specifically, we raised the following points:

The mere presence of a Bible in the Athens clinic waiting room is no more offensive to the Constitution than is the national motto, In God we trust, which is found on U.S. currency used to pay our vets and those who care for them in VA facilities. Only the most sensitive or religiously hostile would be offended by the mere presence of a religious book placed among other, non-religious reading materials in a waiting room. . . .

A major concern regarding free exercise of religion and free expression of religious sentiments in VA facilities deals with how VA officials determine when such exercise or expression must be curtailed. To protect religious expression to the extent required by the Constitution, VA officials must not curtail religious rights based on hypersensitive or hostile reaction, merely because one or a few persons dislike the religious message or misunderstand what the Constitution requires. As noted in Lee v. Weisman, the Supreme Court did “not hold that every state action implicating religion is invalid if one or a few citizens find it offensive. People may take offense at all manner of religious as well as nonreligious messages, but offense alone does not in every case show a violation.” 505 U.S. 577, 597 (1992) (emphasis added). . . .

VA patients are deemed to be “reasonable observers.” As such, they are deemed to know that the presence of religious reading material placed with other, non-religious reading material does not mean that the VA is endorsing a religious message, just as the placement of some non-religious literature to the exclusion of other secular literature does not mean that the VA endorses the secular message of the materials it provides. In fact, the reading material in VA clinics is provided so that patients and those who accompany them have something to do while they wait to be seen. No one is required to read any of the literature provided, be it religious or non-religious, much less be compelled to believe any message set forth in any of the materials. To imply that the presence of a Gideon Bible with other, non-religious material imposes religion on anyone or indicates that the VA is advocating a religious message is absurd on its face and must be rejected.

Unfortunately, Mikey’s tactics are all too familiar and, as such, we continue to take action and respond to numerous other misguided issues he has complained about. If you are a Christian who happens to believe in the Constitution and the rule of law, you will, sooner or later, encounter Mr. Weinstein and MRFF. They are committed to a religion-free public square. They advocate a secular society and would prefer that religion to be confined to our homes and to church buildings.

Yet, we at the ACLJ are committed to protecting our individual Constitutional rights and will never stop fighting for what is right. We will never stop fighting for those whose Constitutional rights are under attack.

Stand with us as we continue to expose Mikey Weinstein and others like him who use their misguided understanding of the Constitution in an attempt to shut down religious expression in the public sphere.


Response by MRFF Supporter Mike Challman

Good Afternoon, (name withheld) –

First, allow me to thank you for your service.  I am a veteran, too, as are many MRFF supporters, and we hold dear the efforts and sacrifices of our brothers and sisters in arms.  I’d also like to thank you for taking the time to write to our organization and express your thoughts about the recent issue involving sectarian religious literature at a VA clinic.
With all due respect, you have misunderstood the rationale behind our objection to what we believe is an inappropriate placement of a religious text, in this case a Christian Bible.  Our objection is not based on some sort of personal affront to the Bible itself — on the contrary, most MRFF supporters and clients are people of faith, predominantly Christians. In fact, I’m a lifelong, committed, and active Christian myself.  So while I have absolutely no concerns about a Bible per se, I do have a strong interest in seeing our governmental and military institutions adhere to the rigidly secular stance which is required. And my interest and concern is the same whether the text in question is a Bible, or a Koran, or any other religiously-themed book.
I understand that you think the presence of the Bible is no big deal.  But I’d ask you, where would you draw the line with respect to maintaining the religiously neutral environment that is required on the part of the VA.  If a Bible is okay, how about a poster?  Or a stack of religious tracts?  Or what if the doctor desires to use his time with a patient to proselytize?  Would any of those things concern you?  How about if the religion being promoted is non-Christian, does that change your perspective at all?
My position, and that of the MRFF, is that the boundary between the secular mission of our government (including the VA) and the personal religious beliefs (including non-belief) of our citizenry must be rigidly protected.  If any blurring of that line is allowed because (a.) one believes that it’s not a big deal; or (b.) one agrees with the religious belief being promoted, then the entirety of the line is subject to erasure.
There is an appropriate time, place, and manner for the expression of an individual’s constitutionally protected religious beliefs… but it’s not the lobby of a VA waiting room.
Thanks again for writing.
Peace,
Mike Challman

Christian, USAF veteran, MRFF supporter


Mike-
Nice try but, sorry….. I’m not buying it.  Contrary to what you have said, I am not misunderstanding anything.  I know exactly what your objections to the existence of a Bible in VA waiting room are.  These are nothing but trumped irrational fears about the mere existence of a book setting on a table “forcing” religion on VA patients.   The MRFF has chosen to join in worshiping at the altar of political correctness, a scourge that masks true and open communication and has truly weakened us as a nation.   PC is the worst kind of tyranny and you gentlemen are promoting it with your secular crusade.  We are at a point in this country where people cannot speak the truth or share their deeply held feelings simply because it might “offend” someone.   We have many sacred rights in this country- guaranteed by the US Constitution and paid for by the blood, sweat and sacrifice of the United States military, but the right “not to be offended” is not among them.  In fact, I would argue that your actions as an organization actually violate my right to free speech and freedom of religion. 
A Bible ( or  Koran, for that matter) simply lying on a table in a waiting room isn’t a threat to anyone.  It is an inanimate object sitting on a table, and it doesn’t promote or force Christianity on anyone.   If someone has an interest, wants to pick it up and read it, they can do so.  If someone has no interest, they can simply walk by and not pick it up.  In either case, there is no harm done to anyone.   Prior to leaving for Vietnam, I was given a tiny, zippered King James version of the Bible.  I will confess that I didn’t have time to read it much, but I carried it with me in the combat zone for an entire year.  It was a great comfort to me, especially when our LZ came under nightly mortar and rocket fire attacks during the early days of the 1968 Tet Offensive.   Likewise, a troubled young Iraq veteran, perhaps suffering from PTSD, might just walk into a VA clinic and might want to pick up that Bible for guidance and comfort….. and there stands the MRFF to deny him what he needs.
You guys peddle the absolute garbage that that the MRFF is working to protect our troops from proselytizing religious nuts when I know your true mission is to join the so-called progressive Left in eliminating every last vestige of religion in this country.   (Incidently, those of us who have fought Communists know that the suppression of religion has been one of the key tactics they use to gain power over the people.) 
Again, I only wish I had the resources to take my own legal action against the MRFF and fight your wretched campaign against Christianity.  As a retiree on Social Security and a small pension, my funds are limited, but I will be making a to the ACLJ for the expressed purpose of neutering the MRFF and stopping these frivolous ambulance chasing legal actions.  (“Have you been injured?  Are you suffering because your eyes fell upon a Bible on a table or a cross hanging on a wall?  The MRFF can help”.)
As for those of you at MRFF who are military veterans, I am embarrassed for you.  If you really want to be a force for good, if you really wanted to help veterans, forget this anti-God crusade (You can’t win it anyway).  Direct your time and talents toward helping your fellow military comrades achieve the care and benefits they have earned and are so richly deserve.
(name withheld)

Response by MRFF Supporter Mike Challman

Nice try, (name withheld), but I’m not buying what you are trying to peddle, either.  You insist that you know the ‘true mission’ of the MRFF, despite our transparency and consistency in stating our precise purpose. You are certainly entitled to believe anything you’d like, even if it’s misguided and unsupportable.

As an example, you say that you “would argue that your actions as an organization actually violate my right to free speech and freedom of religion.”  Just how is that so?  No one is preventing you from believing anything you wish to believe, or from reading anything you wish to read.  You can even sit in a VA waiting room and read your Bible, and you’ll get no argument or resistance from the MRFF.  You could even turn in your seat and attempt to engage a person sitting near you in a religious discussion,and you’ll still get no argument or resistance from the MRFF.
So how is it that your rights are being infringed in any way?
Your characterization of the issue as being merely about a book on a table, which “isn’t a threat to anyone”, is disingenuous at best.  As I’ve already mentioned, the threat is to the principle of non-entanglement in religion on the part of a government agency.
Your suggestion that the MRFF is somehow standing opposed to “a troubled young Iraq veteran” getting help is both insulting and ridiculous.  Insulting because you presume that we do not wish to see every veteran get whatever help he may need.  Ridiculous because you are essentially arguing that Bibles should be placed everywhere since you can never really know for certain where an individual might benefit from access to a Bible… so put them in every waiting room, every office, every PX, every Base Exchange, every duty station…. and since you suggest that you’d not be opposed to the presence of a Koran, then Korans should also be placed everywhere.  Of course, since those are not the sole sources of faith and comfort, then every other religious text needs to be placed everywhere.
Ridiculous argument, yes? I completely agree.  The bottom line here is that it is not the mission of the VA to proselytize, even if you believe it to be well intentioned.
Lastly, I think you reveal your own true motivation at the close of your note when you suggest that the MRFF should “forget this anti-God crusade” because “you can’t win it anyway.”  In other words, you argue that the sincerity of your own personal religious belief means the placement of a Bible should not be restricted in any way.  I also cherish and protect my own Christian faith.   But I also recognize that we live in a diverse society with a plurality of beliefs (including non-belief) and none of those beliefs gets any preference or sanction by any government entity.
Peace,
MC

Mr. Challman, your considerable talent at doublespeak tells me you would make a good politician.  Spin whatever web you like……this combat vet isn’t buying it.  I repeat: A Bible sitting on a freaking table is a threat to no one
Our military got along just fine for over 200 years and several wars before the MRFF began its assault on religious views and expression.  I have a dear and very close friend who served as an Air Force chaplain, with multiple tours in Bosnia and the Saudi.  He gave 27 years of his life to helping our troops and serving his country, but he is sick, dismayed and angered over the MRFF’s harassing shenanigans. 
Still wish I had the resources to bring action, to fight your hate group legally, challenge MRFF’s non-profit status and take duplicitous “Mikey” and his merry band of troublemakers to the wall.   I don’t, so absent that, I will just hope that reason and common sense will somehow prevail.  At some point the American people, the people we fought for, will stand up and reject this radical craptrap that rejects our tradition, our history, our values and our greatness as a country.
Signing off.
 (name withheld)

Response by MRFF Supporter Mike Challman

Thanks for the discussion, (name withheld). I appreciate your passion, even if we don’t see eye-to-eye on this topic.

Might be worth considering that I’m not engaging in “double speak” just because I’m saying something with which you disagree. Be well.

Peace, MC


 Response by MRFF Advisory Board Member Mike Farrell

Hi, (name withheld),

Your upset is evident, as is your shortsightedness. It appears that your argument,

such as it is, should be directed to the V.A. rather than the MRFF. Then they can
explain to you why your position, like your sneering tone, is without foundation.

Unhappily for you, they seem to have responded to the complaint by examining their
responsibility as a government organization and complied with the law.

If only you and your ACLJ had the ability to comprehend the fact that no one is

attacking you, no one is stealing anything from you and no one is doing any harm
to your ability to believe as you choose when they insist on maintaining the separation
of church and state. All they are doing is following the law and honoring the right of

all people to believe as they choose, not as you choose.

Mike Farrell
(MRFF Board of Advisors)


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12 Comments

  1. Connie

    The article the letter writer included brought up a good point – that In God We Trust is on US currency.

    Shall we as a nation address that issue next? I’m all for returning to E Pluribus Unum.

  2. American Patriot

    Connie, we will leave In God We Trust on our money and police cars throughout the United States.

    To Mr. Challman, I keep seeing people with MRFF refer to the bible as a “Christian” bible when it was originally a Jewish bible and still is. From Genesis to Revelation it was written by Jews to Jews! All the writers of both the Old and New Testament were Jews except for Luke. Jesus did not come to start a new religion called Christianity. All the writers were trying to point their fellow Jews to their Messiah Christ then when Saul/Paul went on his missionary journals, God commissioned him to take the good news to the Gentiles. Christianity has always had its roots in Judaism so in all reality, Christianity is really Messianic Judaism. Gentiles have been grafted into the root which is Judaism, so in essence Christians are “spiritual Jews.” By Mikey removing the bible he is also offending his own people. He may have one removed, but I sure that others will replace it. If a VA doctor shares his faith with a patient, he is just fulfilling the Great Commission as commanded by his “Commanding General Jesus.”

  3. G

    AP, we don’t have the words in God we trust on our police cars.

    “Jesus did not come to start a new religion called Christianity.”

    Oh really, then explain why we are not Jews instead of Christians and why right wingers are stating that the USA was based on Christians not Jewish values?

    ” Mikey removing the bible he is also offending his own people. He may have one removed, but I sure that others will replace it.”

    And any replacement Bible will be removed per court order unless you want to piss off the judge.

  4. Connie

    FFS A/D P!!!1!1!1!1!1

    The word bible means holy book. As there are a multitude of gods, goddesses, and other personifications of deities and their accompanying religions, how else would a reader know which bible the author means?

    What? Just because you believe your faith is the one and only doesn’t mean everyone else does or even has to agree with you.

  5. American Patriot

    G,

    I guess you do not have a television, there have been reports from some cities around the nation that sheriffs have ordered and placed “In God We Trust” on their patrol cars.

  6. American Patriot

    G,

    I don’t really care if I piss off any judge if I replace a bible with another one anywhere in the the United States. If I want to I can take the Book of Mormon out of the nightstand at at Marriott Hotel, bet you did not know that the Mormons own them, and hide it under the bed, and replace it with a Gideon bible instead.

  7. G

    AP, there is so much news out there, it is impossible to keep up with what is going on. If the cops are going to place their trust in God, then they don’t need a gun, baton, and handcuffs to do their jobs. Of course, if we trust in God, then we don’t need the police.

    You can not replace a Bible on in a government place such as a VA building or on a government military base unless it happens to be in a military church. That is something that you are unable to understand and never will. You want to piss off a judge and go to jail, go ahead and you will find being in prison/jail will be a forever live altering experience.

  8. G

    AP, the Prescott police was ordered by the mayor to remove In God We Trust. You had one sheriff who stated that those people who are against the police are against God. You wonder how the guy ever got on the sheriff department and how stupid the voters were in electing him to office?

  9. American Patriot

    I would agree with the veteran above, a bible is an inanimate object and there is no coercion to pick it up unless someone hears the Holy Spirit yelling in their ear to pick it up and read it. The same is true with a Playboy magazine, no one is obligated to pick up it up and look at it either, and I would lay good money down that the Playboy magazine in a VA hospital is read and looked at more than any bible would, because we are sinful people, but the bible is meant for sinful people, to lead us toward God and a way of forgiveness and right living before a holy God. By removing the bible, MRFF is showing they are anti-God by removing the one thing that could lead someone to an answer to their needs and freedom from their sin and hope of life eternal after they die. I think every Christian should send MRFF a bible for Christmas!

  10. G

    The point is AP is that the Bible is a religious book that is not supposed to be in a government agency building/military base unless it is in a chaplain office and/or in a military church. If you don’t like Playboy, then you need to take it up with those “Christians” who run the company that issued it. Where were people like you when Hugh Hefner created Playboy and why didn’t you put him out of business?

  11. American Patriot

    G,
    Can you please tell me what law with the appropriate code number that says that no bible can be in a government agency or building and can only be in a chaplain’s office or military church? Also, if this is the case then why will you find a bible in over 140 House and Senate members personal offices and why is there a weekly worship service happening in the halls or rooms in the Capital building, which is attended by over 140 House and Senate members??

    There are no “Christians” who run Playboy and if there are then they are not truly saved and born again “Christians.”

    Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

  12. G

    AP, there have been countless stories on this website where the military/civilian agencies have lost regarding having a Bible in their place except in the chaplain office and/or military church and you know it.

    Regarding the House and Senate offices, Congress has exempt itself from many federal laws and statutes regarding religion and state. How can you be sure that all 140 personnel offices have or do not have a Bible? Did you do call each office and take a head count?

    “There are no “Christians” who run Playboy and if there are then they are not truly saved and born again “Christians.”

    How do you know there are no Christians that run Playboy? Saying that same old line again that these people are not saved and born again Christians like you usually say when you have really nothing to say to rebut my arguments.

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