Removal of Bible MIA POW Table

Published On: July 30, 2018|Categories: MRFF's Inbox, Top News|4 Comments|

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From: (name withheld)

Subject: Removal of Bible MIA POW Table
Date: July 30, 2018 at 12:15:04 PM MDT


Dear Sir or Madam,

The decision to remove the Bible is a complete tragedy and a frightening statement of where our country is headed.
I personally know the families of two of our most famous POW’s Morgan Donahue and Charles Shelton and I can fully assure you these men would be horrified by your decision.
Stop trying to “include” everyone.  This is a recipe for failure as there will always be those that try to undermine the simple truth that our nation was founded on Christian principals… period.

Matthew 10:33 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

All humans are invited into the family of Christ.  Some chose for and some against.  Who are you choosing?

Thank you for your time.
(name withheld) (daughter of WWII Veteran a tireless believer and advocate for Jesus Christ)

Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member Mike Farrell

From: Mike
Subject: Re: Removal of Bible MIA POW Table
Date: July 30, 2018 at 2:18:54 PM MDT

To: (name withheld)

Dear (name withheld),

Sadly, your message is an example of the kind of misunderstanding suffered by too many who think of
themselves as Christians but are not very Christian in their attitude about others.

You cite the names of two POWs and suggest their families would be “horrified by” our “decision.”

The only decision we made was to alert those in charge that the placement of a Christian Bible on their “Missing Man” table was inappropriate. It was inappropriate because not all those who were captured or killed in service to our country were Christians; the two you care about may have been, but their belief system is no what the table is about, so adding a Bible to it violates both the law and military regulations. It was inappropriate because our government and our military may not promote or appear to promote one faith or belief system over all the many others,  For those reasons, the original “Missing Man” table did not include any religious book or reference to a religious belief.

I understand that you believe “all humans are invited into the family of Christ.” Aside from the arrogance inherent in such a statement, which suggests you have something that is correct and available to everyone if only they will allow themselves to be “saved” as you appear to believe you have been. But you see, in a nation in which everyone is free to believe as she or he chooses, not all are anxious to become as narrow in their outlook as you give evidence of being.
Though you didn’t elaborate on it, your suggestion that removing the Bible from the table was not only a
tragedy but a “frightening statement of where our country is headed” implies a great deal about what you
think is needed to heal the problems in our land. Let me suggest that if your remedy is “my way or the highway,” you’ve got a lot to learn about being both an American and a Christian.
Mike Farrell
(MRFF Board of Directors)

Response from MRFF Founder and President Mikey Weinstein
From: Mikey Weinstein <>

Subject: Re: Removal of Bible MIA POW Table
Date: July 30, 2018 at 12:23:45 PM MDT
To: (name withheld)


…WOW??!!…..sorry, Susan, you are just so VERY and wretchedly wrong……did you REALLY just say what you said below??!!….seriously???…..look, .”including everyone” IS the American way…and the Constitutional Way as well…..our nation was NOT founded as a Christian nation…but a secular representative democracy… Sandra Day O’Connor said from the SCOTUS bench, “In America we don’t count heads before enforcing the First Amendment”….Mikey Weinstein

Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member Joan Slish

On Jul 30, 2018, at 1:44 PM, Joan Slish  wrote:

Dear (name withheld),

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


A lot of Christian news media deliberately leave 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.


Check out our mission statement.


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 –

Mikey will not be going to hell as you wish because God has already taken care of him.

“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, there shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:

For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.

As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes.

For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” Romans 11:25-29

I understand your anger after you read the article, which is not true.

If the military abided by the Constitution, Supreme Court rulings and the UCMJ we wouldn’t be having this fight.

Joan Slish


Daughter of WWII vet; sister of Vietnam War vet; mother-in-law of Iraq War vet; aunt of Iraq War vet; retired ordained minister in the Christian faith

MRFF Advisory Board Member

Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member John Compere

From: John Compere
Subject: Fw: Removal of Bible MIA POW Table
Date: July 30, 2018 at 2:02:54 PM MDT
To: (name withheld)
Cc: Military Religious Freedom Foundation <>

Reply-To: John Compere

Dear (name withheld),
For your information, 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 tradition of the original POW/MIA table display.
The tradition of the American POW/MIA table display 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 display continued the tradition without religious scripture.
Today, some who want to impose their religious scripture on others violate the law, regulations & tradition without any legal authorization by placing their version of Christian scripture on the secular POW/MIA table display.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is an American non-profit constitutional rights organization (composed of more than 80% Christians) dedicated solely to ensuring the right of our military women & men to constitutional freedom of religion (to which all Americans are entitled under our Constitution). We represent over 56,000 military members (96% of whom are Christians) who requested our assistance in protecting their right to “choose” their own beliefs without uninvited interference from others (just like you, me & all Americans). We “choose” to represent them & will continue to do so with patriotic pride.
Also, please be advised it is fact, history & law we were created as an independent secular republic (not founded on religion). This was established by the 1787 Preamble & Constitution, confirmed by the 1791 1st Amendment & further confirmed by the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli, a publicly recorded international legal document, officially notifying the world “THE UNITED STATES IS NOT IN ANY SENSE FOUNDED ON THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION.” It was negotiated during 1st President Washington’s administration , unanimously ratified by the Senate & signed by 2nd President Adams. The American Consul to Algiers, Joel Barlow (Revolutionary War chaplain & Washington appointee), negotiated the treaty, co-authored the Arabic version signed abroad during Washington’s presidency & authored the English version ratified & signed in the USA during Adams’ presidency without opposition. These historic documents prove the intent of our Founders beyond any reasonable doubt.
Most Sincerely,
Brigadier General John Compere, US Army (Retired)
Disabled American Veteran (Vietnam)
MRFF Advisory Board Member

 Response from MRFF Supporter Susan Zanol

On Jul 30, 2018, at 4:44 PM, Susan Zanol  wrote:

Hello, (name withheld).
Susan here. I fear where our country would be headed if the Bible were left in place! It would mean that we are in the process of shredding the Constitution which ensures protections for all citizens. I for one never want to live under the tyranny of a state sponsored religion. Would you want to be forced to follow a particular religion, including a Christian one that differs from yours, and not be free to worship as you please?
As you may know, in English history there was a period where if an Anglican sat on the throne, practicing Catholics were tortured and killed and when a Catholic was in charge, Anglicans were burned at the stake regularly. Ironically, both groups trying to annihilate the other were Christian. This is not an isolated story. There are many examples of state religions in history and in the world today. Not pretty.
As for the two gentlemen you mentioned who would be horrified by the decision to remove the Bible. You don’t really know what they would think, correct? They swore an oath to support and defend our Constitution. I realize that you believe yours is the right religion just like all extremists in all religions, which is why our founding fathers included the First Amendment. Note that it is the First Amendment. The point is, in our democratic nation there is a separation of church and state. We are all free to have our own beliefs and I should not have to walk by a table of honor that only honors Christians, as implied by the Bible on it.
Consider how you would feel if you were not included in your “stop trying to include everyone.” It doesn’t feel good, does it?
SUSAN P. ZANOL, Lt Col, USAF (ret)
MRFF Supporter


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  1. bill stewart August 14, 2018 at 4:46 pm

    what a bunch of prissy bitches, oh holier then thou, the bible placed on the missing man table and you are all in a knot? silly bunnies, don’t give me that constitutional crap,,,,,i’m not a christian, and I don’t object to it, don’t care what the law says, common sense says otherwise, what’s the harm, how about if it were the koran, how about we place both, pick some other texts, maybe a little Sarte>? geez, farrel lighten up you prig, the thought is genuine, the sentiment real, stop with the aclu, bunch of jewish winers, who are intent on destroying the country, slinking to gamorra, p.s. get a clue and stop the silly bullshit there is enough to do in the world without this kind of grammer school debate.

  2. no February 4, 2020 at 5:13 am

    Hopefully this is just a troll website. The down talking response and then the line about violating the Constitution at the end are comedy gold.

  3. James Peterson May 18, 2022 at 1:33 pm

    When I joined the service (volunteered) in March of 1965 and was issued my first set of ‘dog tags’ I had the line reserved for religion embossed with NON-PREF as I did not have a religion and wanted to express that. I did spend 2 1/2 tours with the 5th SFGA in 66 – 67 – 68 and served with many people that had all sorts of different religions and beliefs — but we were as they say ‘Brothers in Arms’.

    Over my long career stationed and serving in many lands with many different principles – ideals – religions and even moral codes which allowed me to see that none of us have the right to suggest what type, kind or how to worship what ever brings a person solace. Even my lack of belief does not give me the right to push my opinion on others and I expect respect from others in return, I can only state my views. Even today when I travel I wear a set of ‘dog tags’ with my old RA number as a just in case.

    When I set up the POW MIA Missing Man table I do not include any religious book — but I happen to have a poster board that is near by that shows the Emblems of Belief that is currently authorized by the VA National Cemetery Administration to give a better understanding that not everyone believes the same.

    Just remember the fallen, those that are missing and the Brotherhood / Sisterhood of serving this country.

    James Peterson
    VFW Life Member

  4. Bob January 25, 2024 at 1:28 am

    As a veteran, I firmly stand behind the inclusion of the Bible on the POW table. The Bible represents more than just a religious text; it embodies the resilience, hope, and unwavering faith that have sustained countless individuals in the face of adversity, including prisoners of war. Placing the Bible on the POW table serves as a powerful symbol of the spiritual strength and comfort that many service members have drawn from during their captivity. It honors the sacrifices made by those who have endured unimaginable hardships in service to their country, reminding us of the values and principles that unite us as a nation. The presence of the Bible on the POW table is not about imposing beliefs, but about recognizing and honoring the diverse faith traditions and sources of solace that have helped countless veterans find courage and perseverance in the darkest of times.

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