Bibles on Military Bases

From: (name withheld)

Subject: Bibles on Military Bases
Date: July 25, 2018 at 11:47:57 PM MDT

 

Hi, I understand from a Fox News report that Michael Weinstein has had Bibles removed from USAF bases. I am Canadian, but I have to say this is a disturbing thing for me to hear. I think Christianity should be permitted in the military, I think it’s a great source of faith and strength for your soldiers. I must ask you if other religious books are also banned in favor of your generalized book of faith?
 
(name withheld)

Response from MRFF Supporter Susan Zanol
On Jul 26, 2018, at  8:36 AM, Susan Zanol wrote:

 

Dear (name withheld)

 Thank you for your kind inquiry. I served with the Canadian Air Force for a time and have the utmost respect for our neighbors to the north. I am pleased to answer your questions. 
 Our U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of religion. However, no religion may be endorsed or promoted by our government and there is also a required separation of church and state. Military bases are not private property. Placing a Bible on a table meant to honor those of all faiths along with those who are not religious, is in violation and just plain inappropriate.  I am sure you can imagine how it must feel for a non-Christian serving in the military to walk by such a table. It is unnecessarily divisive in a military built on teamwork and respect for all.  Of course, books representing all faiths and the non-religious could be placed on the table. That would be impractical to say the least as there are literally thousands of religious. Talk about a logistics nightmare!
 I hope your concerns have been addressed. 
Respectfully,
SUSAN P ZANOL, Lt Col, USAF (ret)
MRFF Supporter  

          Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member John Compere

On Jul 26, 2018, at 1:51 PM, John Compere  wrote:

(name withheld),
 
Placing religious scripture on a public POW/MIA table display in a military facility not only violates the US Constitution & military regulations, but also the secular tradition of the American POW/MIA table display.
 
The original tradition of the American POW/MIA table was started by the River Rats, a group of Vietnam War combat pilots, who began this military tradition in 1967 without religious scripture. Thereafter, the American Legion’s POW/MIA table continued the tradition without religious scripture. Today, those promoting their version of religious scripture violate the law & tradition by placing without legal authorization a version of their Christian scripture on the secular POW/MIA table.
 
There is no uniformity in Christianity or its scripture. There are more than 2,000 vastly different Christian varieties in the USA alone & 30,000+ worldwide (World Christian Encyclopedia). There are no original biblical texts – only copies of copies of copies of copies that have been changed & corrupted by clergy & scribes over centuries to conform to doctrines & dogma. Every Christian denomination has its own version. Our US Defense Department publishes an official list of recognized religions for the military alone currently including 221 different belief groups.
 
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is an American non-profit constitutional rights organization (composed of over 80% Christians) dedicated solely to ensuring the right of all American military members to freedom of religion (to which all Americans are entitled under our Constitution). MRFF represents 56,000+ military men & women (96% of whom are Christians) who requested MRFF assistance in protecting their lawful right to determine, enjoy & practice their own beliefs without interference from others.
 
The US Constitution prohibits our government or its representatives (which includes the military) from endorsing or promoting a religion or religious scripture. Military regulations also prohibit such religious endorsing or promoting. The secular military mission is to defend our nation against its enemies – not promote a religion or scripture. The secular military sworn service oath is to bear true faith & allegiance to the Constitution – not to a religion or scripture. Military chapels are available for those who chose to worship & military chaplains are available for those who seek spiritual support.
 
Our military consists of men & women of many different faiths & beliefs – not just Christians. Our many Christian & few non-Christian clients do not want another person’s version of religion & scripture unlawfully imposed upon them in the military workplace interfering with their military mission & duty. When requested, MRFF protects their lawful right to freedom of belief with patriotic pride & will continue to do so.
 
Most Sincerely,
Brigadier General, Judge Advocate General’s Corps, US Army (Retired)
Disabled American Veteran (Vietnam)
MRFF Advisory Board Member

Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member Joan Slish

On Jul 26, 2018, at 1:44 PM, Joan Slish  wrote:

(name withheld),

 

Thank you for contacting us with your concerns about the bible on the Missing Man’s table.

 

Fox News deliberately leaves out pertinent Supreme Court rulings and UCMJ regulations in order to push an agenda of Christian supremacy in America.

 

“The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) is the bedrock of military law. The UCMJ is a federal law, enacted by Congress. Articles 77 through 134 of the UCMJ are known as the “punitive articles.” these are specific offenses which, if violated, can result in punishment by court-martial.”

 

The Bible on the Missing Man’s table has not always been there.

 

“Actually, the original tradition of the table was started by the River Rats, the group of Vietnam combat pilots who began this tradition in 1967, did NOT include a Bible, and neither does the American Legion’s version, which sticks to the original tradition. The Bible wasn’t added until over three decades later, when the VFW Ladies Auxiliary published a new version in a 1999 issue of their magazine that added a Bible. So, if you want to honor the original tradition, it would NOT have a Bible.” Chris Rodda Research Director for MRFF

Mikey and MRFF 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 (420 in total) of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) are Christians. In fact, 96% of our 56,700+ soldier clients are mainline Christians and we fight for them more than any other belief or non-belief.

 

We also have many distinguished and honorable military members (including Christian Chaplains and religious leaders) on our Board and Advisory Board whom we rely on for their expertise on religion in the military.

https://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org/about/foundation-voices/

 

Check out our Mission Statement.

https://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org/about/our-mission/

 

Separation of Church and State is prominent in the First Amendment to our Constitution.

 

Here’s the backdrop for the First Amendment of the Constitution.

 

When Virginia was founded it established the Anglican Church as the state’s official religion based on the state sponsored Church of England. In order to hold any official position in the Virginia government you must be a member of the Anglican Church.

 

All citizens of Virginia, regardless of their religious affiliation, had to pay taxes to support the Anglican churches throughout the state. The Quakers, Baptists, Presbyterians and Methodists fought this by petitions but were ignored.

 

Jefferson felt that to make anyone pay a tax to support the Anglican Church or any church was wrong and in 1777 penned the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. After becoming Governor of Virginia in 1779, he brought the bill – known as Bill No. 82 – before the Virginia Assembly. It didn’t become law until 1785.

 

The following paragraph from the Virginia Statute is the basis for the First Amendment. It didn’t need this whole paragraph written out in the amendment because the people of that time understood what it meant.

 

“We the General Assembly of Virginia do enact that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.”

 

This bill gave the people freedom from religion in all aspects of their lives. No longer were they forced to attend religious services, pay taxes to the state to fund the state sanctioned religion or kept from holding a job in the government.

 

Jefferson wrote the Statute of Religious Freedom, whose preamble indicted state religion, noting that “false religions over the greatest part of the world and through all time” have been maintained through the church-state. To “compell a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical.”

 

In his Notes on Virginia (1782), Jefferson wrote: “Millions of innocent men, women and children since the introduction of Christianity have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned. Yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools and the other half hypocrites. . .”

 

Even in boot camp the soldiers have freedom from religion by not having to attend church but their punishment for staying away is cleaning their barracks.

 

The Treaty of Tripoli was signed at Tripoli on November 4, 1796.It was submitted to the Senate by President John Adams, receiving ratification unanimously from the U.S. Senate on June 7, 1797, and signed by Adams, taking effect as the law of the land on June 10, 1797; a mere 8 years since our Constitution went into effect. If what was written was wrong in anyway, there would have been uproar. But, it passed unanimously and confirmed that America was not founded on Christianity.

Treaty of Tripoli:

As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen [Muslims],—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan [Mohammedan] nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

The Constitution reflects our founder’s views of a secular government protecting the freedom of any belief or unbelief.

 

The historian, Robert Middlekauff, observed, “The idea that the Constitution expressed a moral view seems absurd. There were no genuine evangelicals in the Convention, and there were no heated declarations of Christian piety.”

 

“The Salem witchcraft was the rock on which the theocracy shattered”. George Lincoln Burr (1857 – 1938), Professor of History and Librarian at Cornell University

 

“Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, then that of blindfolded fear.
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr, August 10, 1787

“History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.”

Thomas Jefferson: in letter to Alexander von Humboldt, December 6, 1813

“The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.”
John Adams, “A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America” 1787-1788

“If I could conceive that the general government might ever be so administered as to render the liberty of conscience insecure, I beg you will be persuaded, that no one would be more zealous than myself to establish effectual barriers against the horrors of spiritual tyranny, and every species of religious persecution.”
George Washington, letter to the United Baptist Chamber of Virginia, May 1789

Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814

“The civil government functions with complete success by the total separation of the Church from the State.”
James Madison, 1819, Writings, 8:432, quoted from Gene Garman, “Essays In Addition to America’s Real Religion”

“Strongly guarded as is the separation between Religion and Government in the Constitution of the United States, the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies, may be illustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history.”

James Madison; Monopolies, Perpetuities, Corporations, EcclesiasticalEndowments

“God has appointed two kinds of government in the world, which are distinct in their nature, and ought never to be confounded together; one of which is called civil, the other ecclesiastical government.”
Isaac Backus, An Appeal to the Public for Religious Liberty, 1773

“During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.

What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; on many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty may have found an established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate it, needs them not.”

James Madison 1785 Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments

 

“Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting “Jesus Christ,” so that it would read “A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;” the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination.”

As Thomas Jefferson wrote in his Autobiography, in reference to the Virginia Act for Religious Freedom

 

The Unites States is not a theocracy and according to our Founding Fathers the Constitution is not based on Christianity or biblical law.

 

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

 

AFI (Air Force Instruction) 1-1, Section 2.12:

2.12. Balance of Free Exercise of Religion and Establishment Clause. Leaders at all levels must balance constitutional protections for their own free exercise of religion, including individual expressions of religious beliefs, and the constitutional prohibition against governmental establishment of religion. They must ensure their words and actions cannot reasonably be construed to be officially endorsing or disapproving of, or extending preferential treatment for any faith, belief, or absence of belief.

 

To place the Christian god above all others is in violation of the Separation of Church and State codified in the First Amendment by Reynolds v. U.S.; Lemon v. Kurtzman; the Lemon Test; Parker v. Levy and AFI 1-1, Section 2.12.

 

COL Stacy J Huser USAF AFGSC 90 MW/CC wrote:

I’m grateful they [MRFF’s current 36 USAF clients at F.E. Warren AFB] felt comfortable contacting you for your advocacy.  Our chaplains are purchasing a generic “book of faith” on Thursday and will let me know when that book is expected to arrive.  Until it arrives, I’ve asked them to rotate the book placed on the table (rotate it through various faiths).  Yesterday they placed the Book of Mormon on the table.  I will contact you again when our permanent “book of faith” is on display.

Thank you again for taking care of our Airmen.  One of my focus areas is increasing a sense of belonging for all our Airmen a large part of that effort is ensuring that the religious and non-religious feel included and cared for.

Take care –

I hope this clears up any concerns you have because of misinformation from Fox News.

Joan Slish

MRFF Advisory Board Member


Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member Mike Farrell

 

On Jul 26, 2018, at 5:56 PM, Mike  wrote:

 

Hi (name withheld),

Unfortunately, those who choose to watch Fox News often get a slanted view rather than the facts.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation, founded by Mikey Weinstein, is dedicated to protecting the

freedom of all believers and non-believers to believe in and practice whatever religion or philosophy
they determine is best for them. Here in the U.S. we are fortunate to have the freedom of religion inscribed in
our Constitution. In support of it, the determination was made to separate church from state so that there
would be no “right” belief, no government-mandated belief system, forced on every American.

Sadly, some of our more zealous believers have difficulty understanding that freedom of religious choice

includes the choice of no religious belief. We at the MRFF have to explain that quite often.

In the situation you apparently heard about on Fox News, it was likely misreported. Mr. Weinstein and the
MRFF are not having “Bibles removed from USAF bases.” Anyone who chooses to have a Bible of her or
his own is certainly entitled to, just as the believers of other faiths are welcome to have their own religious

books, articles or artifacts.

What was being referred to was the practice, begun during the Vietnam War of sometimes setting up what
was known as a “Missing Man” table, also known as a “POW-MIA” table, sometimes a “Fallen Man” table.
The table usually has a flower, a candle, an empty chair, a plate and silverware and sometimes a note,
poem or message. They are intended to honor the fallen, those missing and or imprisoned. The
original tables never included any religious book, artifact or insignia because those lost in combat were men

and women of all faiths and no faith.

However, because some people apparently believe the Christian Bible is universally appropriate, or perhaps
some, given their personal commitment, feel it should be there to represent everyone whether everyone

shared their belief or not, they see that a Christian Bible is included.

Because these tables are officially sanctioned, and because the U.S. military is part of the U.S. Government, it has
long been understood that the government cannot promote, propagate or proselytize in support of one belief
system over all others. For that reason, no Bible was intended to be part of the tables’ design and placing one
where it does not belong is inappropriate. The “Book of Faith” that was created and placed on the table at the
airbase in Wyoming is an attempt by the officer in charge there to include a reference to some form of spiritual
life as part of the table. It apparently includes writings from or about many different belief systems and even, I’m
told, includes some blank pages for those who do not believe, but it was not our invention, nor was it selected
by Mr. Weinstein.

I hope that helps you better understand the situation.

Mike Farrell
(MRFF Board of Advisors)

On Friday, July 27, 2018, 8:45:22 AM CDT, (name withheld) wrote:

Hi John, thank you for your response. I also had a reply from Joan Slish of MRFF which was extremely detailed, and it explained much of the history I had not been aware of. I will copy and paste it below in case you’re interested.

Thank you for contacting us with your concerns about the bible on the Missing Man’s table.

Fox News deliberately leaves out pertinent Supreme Court rulings and UCMJ regulations in order to push an agenda of Christian supremacy in America.

“The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) is the bedrock of military law. The UCMJ is a federal law, enacted by Congress. Articles 77 through 134 of the UCMJ are known as the “punitive articles.” these are specific offenses which, if violated, can result in punishment by court-martial.”

 

The Bible on the Missing Man’s table has not always been there.

 

“Actually, the original tradition of the table was started by the River Rats, the group of Vietnam combat pilots who began this tradition in 1967, did NOT include a Bible, and neither does the American Legion’s version, which sticks to the original tradition. The Bible wasn’t added until over three decades later, when the VFW Ladies Auxiliary published a new version in a 1999 issue of their magazine that added a Bible. So, if you want to honor the original tradition, it would NOT have a Bible.” Chris Rodda Research Director for MRFF

 

Mikey and MRFF 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 (420 in total) of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) are Christians. In fact, 96% of our 56,700+ soldier clients are mainline Christians and we fight for them more than any other belief or non-belief.

We also have many distinguished and honorable military members (including Christian Chaplains and religious leaders) on our Board and Advisory Board whom we rely on for their expertise on religion in the military.

https://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org/about/foundation-voices/

Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein – Founder and President MRFF Board: Major William E. Barker (IN MEMORIAM) – As well as overseeing JROTC operations as District Military Instructor for Albuquerque Public Schools, the 28th largest school district in the country, U.S. Marine Corps Major Barker was the Chairman of New Mexico’s

 

Check out our Mission Statement.

https://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org/about/our-mission/

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is dedicated to ensuring that all members of the United States Armed Forces fully receive the Constitutional guarantees of religious freedom to which they and all Americans are entitled by virtue of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment
(name withheld)nt

Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member John Compere

On Jul 27, 2018, at 7:52 AM, John Compere  wrote:

(name withheld), you’re very welcome. Thank you for your sincere inquiry & this thoughtful response. Best wishes, John


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