Bible in missing POW memorial

From:  (name withheld)
Date: March 1, 2019 at 10:59:13 AM MST
To: [email protected]org
Subject: Bible in missing POW memorial
Your organization has recently filed a complaint about a Bible being displayed in a missing POW memorial in Manchester NH. This is the most unconscionable action that I have ever heard of. It is obvious that this Bible helped one of our finest military veterans get through the most difficult time in his life and the religious freedom granted to all U.S. citizens by our Constitution is being violated by your small minority organization.
The liberalized Democratic movement across this country has gotten too far out of hand and your action is just one more sign of this.
I am extremely appalled by your action and if continued, not only will the congress of New Hampshire receive my belief, but every U.S. congressman, every news organization, and even the President of the U.S. will receive this memo.
I hope to shut you down as you are an embarrassment to all of the men and women who have ever served our country.
(name withheld)

Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member John Compere

On Mar 1, 2019, at 12:02 PM, John Compere  wrote:

Mr. (name withheld),
The historic tradition of the POW/MIA dinner table display was originated by the River Rats, a group of American combat pilots from the Vietnam War, who began this military tradition without religious books. Thereafter, the American Legion continued the tradition also without religious books. A few religionists have disregarded & disrespected this non-religious military tradition by placing their religious books on the display & publicly imposing their choice of religion on others without lawful authorization.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation represents military men & women who have requested the religious books of others be removed from POW/MIA displays because it (1) disobeys the US Constitution, military regulations & established American law by endorsing a religion, (2) distracts from the original non-religious purpose of POW/MIA remembrance by promoting a religion, (3) distorts the original non-religious purpose of POW/MIA remembrance by inserting a religion, (4) disregards common dinner table settings that do not include religious books, & (5) disrespects all military members & all Americans who do not want someone else’s version of religion publicly proselytized on POW/MIA displays.
The purpose of POW/MIA dinner table displays is to leave a place at the table for our prisoner of war & missing in action comrades for when they return. It is intended to be a respectful remembrance of THEM. It is not now & has never been about other’s choice of religion.
Please feel free to include this response to all recipients of your “memo”.
Most Sincerely,
Brigadier General John Compere, US Army (Retired)
Disabled American Veteran (Vietnam Era)
Advisory Board Member, Military Religious Freedom Foundation (over 80% are Christians)

Response from MRFF Founder and President Mikey Weinstein
On March 1, 2019 at 1:06 PM Mikey Weinstein <[email protected]> wrote:

Hello (name withheld)… Thanks for reaching out brother… I can assure you that the 14 New Hampshire military veterans who are our clients and are patients at this Manchester New Hampshire VA medical facilities are very pleased with our civil rights activism in support of their constitutional rights… By the way, the majority of them happen to be Christian… Maybe do your homework before you start throwing stones at people and organizations?… Have a nice weekend… Mikey Weinstein…

From: (name withheld)
Subject: Re: Bible in missing POW memorial
Date: March 19, 2019 at 7:04:50 AM MDT
Reply-To:  (name withheld)

I am sure that the 14 veterans that you represent do not represent the sentiment of the vast majority of Americans on this issue. I believe that minorities have a right to their feelings, but to degrade and force their beliefs on others do not represent the feelings of the vast majority of Americans. Defacing the family memorial of a POW veteran dishonoring his religious beliefs that carried him through the most deplorable of life existences is unconscionable. When do the feelings of the majority begin to matter? Your insult of me not doing my homework is also degrading and I take offense to it. The Constitution declares religious freedom for all. I am sure that you were never a POW and I doubt that you are a veteran, but not respecting their beliefs is not acceptable, just like not respecting our flag and all that it stands for. The liberal leftist movements have gone way to far and your action in this matter is just another example.
(name withheld)

Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member Mike Farrell
On Mar 19, 2019, at 1:44 PM, Mike  wrote:

Hi Mr. (name withheld),

I’ve seen the correspondence between you and Mr. Weinstein and thought I might be able to help.

I’m afraid you’ve misunderstood the situation, so let me try to explain.

It appears that you feel our opposition to the Bible in the POW/MIA display is somehow an attack on the Bible, on Christianity, or on the faith or beliefs of those being  honored. I’m afraid you’ve missed the point entirely. If, for example, someone had chosen to include a Koran on the table instead of a Bible, our position would be the same. The reason is that these displays represent all of those captured or lost regardless of their belief system. To assume a Christian or Islamic religious artifact properly represents them all is not only improper, it’s unjust.

Displays such as these are meant to be non-denominational for that reason. Nothing representing our government or our military should suggest or imply a preference for one belief system over another because that violates our constitutionally protected freedom of religion.

For that reason, POW/MIA tables are never supposed to include a religious item. It’s not because those who are being honored had no faith or belief system, it’s that we must honor all of them rather than any single one.

I hope that helps you better understand our action here.

Mike Farrell

(MRFF Board of Advisors)

On Tue, Mar 19, 2019 at 11:09 AM  (name withheld) wrote:
Unfortunately, I disagree. If a U.S. citizen that had been a POW passed serving our country and his family wanted to display a Koran, I respect their right and support of his memory as a veteran. In this particular case, this particular Bible was carried by a veteran as he experienced the most deplorable of experiences giving him the support that he needed to survive. It is more than just a religious symbol. Again, I feel that the vast majority of U.S. citizens will support this position. Your group represents a very small minority group and should not be allowed to avert the wishes of the majority and I am confident that the U.S. courts will agree. As I stated previously, the recent extreme movements to the left have gone too far. This action is just one more example. To me, this mirrors the disrespect of our flag and all that it stands for, including our pledge of allegiance which is being band in our schools, again funded by the vast majority of tax payers.
I will spread this message to whoever will listen.
(name withheld)

Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member Mike Farrell
On Mar 19, 2019, at 12:42 PM, Mike  wrote:

Well, sir, this is America, so you’re welcome to disagree. But as far as the display of religious artifacts is concerned, the First Amendment says otherwise.

Do you mean to suggest that the individual to whom you ascribe ownership of that particular Bible had an experience that was more deplorable than the others being honored by the display in question? Did they have nothing to provide them the support they needed to survive?

The display in question is the same as one used at many military installations and the Bible is not, nor should it be, included.

I think your defensiveness about the Bible, if I may say so, speaks to a somewhat different agenda.

Mike Farrell

(MRFF Board of Advisors)

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