Buying a Brick?

Members of MRFF,

You have said that it is “intolerable” and “unconstitutional” for a bible to be displayed
at a memorial. Well, to that I say you all are very intolerable to me and my family. With
you asking for money to supposedly protect service members from something that is
already protected, you are therefore running a scam. You are running a con on the US
military and people that support the military. I’m ashamed and embarrassed that there
are people like you all trying to make money this way. The first amendment already
protects religious freedom for all. If you did a little research you would discover that there
are many faiths in the military today. Even the chaplains now must be trained in how to
perform services for all the faiths that are represented in the military. And with that, I
believe that you are running a scam to simply make money.

So I put it to you that you all are intolerable and unconstitutional. You are intolerable
because you have offended me and millions of military veterans with this scam, and you
are unconstitutional because you are running a con on the American people with this

“buying a brick” ruse. You should be ashamed of yourselves for wanting to have this bible
removed from this display. I’ll bet if it was a koran you would not even give it a second

I’m praying for your salvation through Jesus Christ.

(name withheld)

Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member John Compere

From: John Compere
Sent: Friday, March 01, 2019 4:05 PM
To: (name withheld)
Cc: Military Religious Freedom Foundation
Subject: Fw: Buying a Brick?

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 tradition of respectful comrade remembrance with no book of religious scripture. Thereafter, the American Legion continued the tradition also without religious scripture. A few fundamentalist Christians have disrespected this non-religious military remembrance tradition by placing their religious scripture on the display & imposing their version of religion on others without lawful authorization.

Military Religious Freedom Foundation represents military men & women who have requested the religious scripture of others be removed from POW/MIA displays because it (1) disobeys the US Constitution, military regulations & American law by endorsing one version of religion over all other religions, (2) distracts from the original non-religious purpose of POW/MIA remembrance by inserting a religion, (3) distorts the original non-religious purpose of POW/MIA remembrance by imposing a religion, (4) disregards common dinner table settings that have no religious scripture on them, & (5) disrespects military members & Americans who do not want someone else’s religion proselytized on public POW/MIA displays.

There are over 10,000 distinct world religions recognized & at least 2,000 vastly different Christianities in America alone (World Christian Encyclopedia). The US Department of Defense official list of religions for the military alone currently includes 221 different belief groups. If the traditional non-religious POW/MIA displays are changed to promote a religion instead of POW/MIA remembrance, whose religion do we use – yours, mine or someone else’s?

The purpose of POW/MIA dinner table setting 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 a religion. However, this is a good example of how the unauthorized imposition of religion into a non-religious military matter creates unnecessary & unneeded conflict, controversy & contention.

We realize willful ignorance is difficult to dissuade when infected with arrogance & acrimony, but we earnestly endeavor to enlighten.

Most Sincerely,

Brigadier General John Compere, US Army (Retired)

Disabled American Veteran (Vietnam Era)

Advisory Board Member, Military Religious Freedom Foundation (over 80% of whom are Christians)

From: (name withheld)
To: ‘John Compere’
Sent: Friday, March 1, 2019, 6:30:47 PM CST
Subject: RE: Buying a Brick?


Yes, what you say is all true and every year that I attend my combat unit reunion we have one of these
tables and no one ever, ever says anything about the bible being there. And I can tell you form serving
with these guys, that it is not about religion.

(name withheld)

 Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member John Compere
On Mar 1, 2019, at 6:03 PM, John Compere  wrote:


Ralph, thank you for your civil response. As a high mileage military retiree, certified United Methodist Church lay leader & biblical history teacher for many years, I have never encountered anyone who claimed the countless versions of biblical scripture were not about religion. It is an unusual & interesting concept. Sincere best wishes with your reunions. John

OK, I’ll reply to all. Mikey, I apologize for calling your organization a scam and a con.

I also apologize for say anything that might have been defamatory toward you or
your character. Sorry for all of that.


(name withheld)

Response from MRFF Advisory Board Member Mike Farrell

On Mar 3, 2019, at 6:01 PM, Mike  wrote:


Hi Mr. (name withheld),

I see you’re all “het up,” as my mother used to say. No need, I suspect it’s just a misunderstanding.

Let me explain by taking your points one at a time. Hopefully that will help clear things up and at the same time calm things down.

“Intolerable” and “unconstitutional” are certainly words that have been used to describe, in this case, the inappropriate placement of a Bible on what is known as either a POW/MIA Table or a “Missing Man Table.” The words are good ones and they apply to many situations. They apply directly to this particular one, but their use is probably the result of the avalanche of protest that has been organized around this, the latest episode of what is an oft-repeated campaign on the part of people with a specific religious agenda.

You see, the “Missing Man Table” was originated by the VFW Ladies Auxiliary and the National League of POW/MIA Families with reference to those captured or lost and unaccounted for during the war in Vietnam. The idea was later picked up and promoted by the American Legion.

When created and set up by all three organizations, the tables came with a specific description of what was to be placed on them. A Bible was not included for very important reasons: many of those lost and captured were not Christians and all were to be remembered and honored equally. And, aside from the fact that many of those men were either of another faith or non-believers, the founding organizations realized that as official, U.S. Government recognized and approved displays, the tables cannot appear to promote one belief over all others. That’s the way we in America honor the freedom of religious or non-religious choice.

I hope that helps you better understand the situation. As you correctly say, the 1st Amendment protects religious freedom for all. It does so by ensuring that no government entity promotes or appears to promote one belief system over all others.

Now, to your next point about the “brick” campaign: you seem for some reason to have connected it to this issue of the POW/MIA Tables. There’s no reason to make that connection as it applies to all the work we’re involved in. You see, the MRFF is a charitable non-governmental organization whose mission is to protect the freedom of religious or non-religious choice of the women and men in the military. The brick campaign has long been a theme meant to encourage financial support for all our work by, in effect, ‘buying a brick to help build the wall of separation between church and state.’

The separation of church and state, a concept of the nation’s founders, is the way they determined would best protect the right of every person to believe as he or she chooses. I’m sure you know that, but perhaps you didn’t get the connection.

So, in your message you seem to have conflated a couple of things and come to an erroneous conclusion. I hope this explanation helps clarify things for you. But just to be clear, we have no quarrel with the Bible or what people believe, that is up to each individual. For some reason, many of those who don’t bother to look deeply enough to understand, leap – or are pushed – to the conclusion that we are anti-religious or even anti-Christian. No so. In fact, while our staff, supporters and list of clients is quite diverse, over 95% of them identify as Christian.

Let me only add that I’ve made mention here a couple of times of people with a specific religious agenda or people being pushed to a certain conclusion. What I’m referring to is literally an effort, or perhaps I can call it a campaign, by members of a fundamentalist Christian sect that believes their particular viewpoint is the one and only true belief system and that anyone who doesn’t subscribe is damned to hell. They believe America is a Christian Nation for Christians only and that the military should be Jesus’ Army. They sometimes call themselves “Dominionists” and condemn the rest of us.  It probably goes without saying that they hate the MRFF because we support free thought and free choice and they are constantly on the attack against us. As someone who was raised in a Catholic household I think that attitude is completely contrary to the teachings of the Jesus I learned about, so I’m proud to associate myself with the MRFF.

I hope this helps and I wish you well.


Mike Farrell

(MRFF Board of Advisors)


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