MRFF Ad. Board Member, John Compere’s Latest Article: “What is wrong with Fundamentalist Christians placing their religious scripture on secular American POW/MIA dinner table displays to promote their religious beliefs?”



Lawful Answer – The US Constitution prohibits our government or its representatives (which includes the military) from promoting or endorsing a religion. US Armed Forces regulations prohibit the military from promoting or endorsing a religion. The US judiciary has continuously confirmed this constitutional prohibition as the law of our land. The military’s secular mission is to defend our nation against its enemies – not promote or endorse a religion. The secular sworn military service oath is to bear true faith and allegiance to the secular Constitution – not to a religion or  scripture.


American religious beliefs are as diverse as believers. For example, there are 10,000 distinct religions world-wide and 2,000 vastly different varieties of only American Christianity with variable scripture versions (World Christian Encyclopedia). The US Department of Defense publishes an official list of recognized religions for the military alone currently including 221 different belief groups. It is unlawful for our government or military to promote or endorse one version of religion or non-religion over all of the others. This is the established law of our land as well as mandatory military policy.


Historic Tradition Answer – The historic tradition of the secular American POW/MIA dinner table display was originated by the River Rats, an American group of Vietnam War combat pilots, who began this military tradition in 1967 with no book of religious scripture. Thereafter, the American Legion continued this secular military tradition with no book of religious scripture. A few Christian fundamentalists are disregarding and disrespecting this historic secular military tradition and forcing their religious beliefs on everyone else by placing their religious scripture version on the secular POW/MIA dinner table display without authorization.


Common Sense Answer – The purpose of the secular American POW/MIA dinner table display is to leave a place at the dinner table for those military comrades who are prisoners of war or missing in action for when they return. American POW/MIAs have never been and are not now only fundamentalist Christians. The display is a respectful remembrance to never forget them. It is not about a religion or scripture. Traditional American dinner table settings are secular and commonly include table cloth, plate, utensils, glass, napkins, candle and flower with no book of religious scripture which is not essential for the dinner table setting or remembrance for our American POW/MIA missing.


What is wrong with fundamentalist Christians placing their religious scripture versions on secular American POW/MIA dinner table displays to promote their religious beliefs?


It is wrong because it (1) disobeys the Constitution, military regulations and the law of our land, (2) distracts from the secular American POW/MIA remembrance purpose to promote a version of religion and scripture, (3) distorts the historic tradition of the secular American POW/MIA dinner table display, (4) disregards common secular dinner table settings that do not include religious scripture, and (5) disrespects millions of Americans who are not fundamentalist Christians.


“Man is the Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion – several of them.” – MARK TWAIN


“God enters by private door into every individual.” – RALPH WALDO EMERSON


“We were founded as a nation of openness to people of all beliefs. And so we must remain. Our very unity has been strengthened by our pluralism. We establish no religion is this country, we command no worship, we mandate no belief, nor will we ever. Church and state are and must remain separate. All are free to believe or not believe, all are free to practice a faith or not.” – RONALD REAGAN


John Compere

Brigadier General, Judge Advocate General’s Corps, US Army (Retired) Former Chief Judge, US Army Court of Military Review

Disabled American Veteran (Vietnam)

Military Religious Freedom Foundation Advisory Board Member

Texas rancher

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  1. QForce USA

    Hey Gen Hick.

    Why don’t you just put a sock in it.

  2. Grey One talks sass

    Why do Fundamentalist Christians continue to force their holy book where it doesn’t belong?

    A. Fundamentalist Christians aka FC’s aka the Christian Taliban have no respect for anyone anywhere other than their own tribe.

    B. See A.

    Lately I’ve heard so many hysterical cries of ‘Christian persecution’ from souls whose only hardship thus far is not having Merry Christmas emblazoned over every commercial surface.

    My advice is they need to take a page from their savior and walk a mile or two in the shoes of those they persecute themselves. Might open some eyes.

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