MRFF Advisory Board Member John Compere’s Op-Ed: “POW/MIA Displays Are For Remembrance Not Religion”


A Veterans Hospital is being sued by a Christian military veteran after he and other patients complained about fundamentalist Christians putting their religious scripture in the middle of a secular prisoner of war and missing in action remembrance display to publicly proselytize their private religious beliefs and the hospital refused to remove it (ARN, May 11th).

Originated in 1967 by a group of our Vietnam War combats pilots, the River Rats, without religious scripture and continued thereafter by the American Legion without religious scripture, the POW/MIA display purpose was and is to leave a place at the dinner table for those military comrades and not forget them. It has always been about remembrance – not about religion. Religious scripture can be placed in the hospital chapel for those who want to see it.

The government hospital’s recalcitrance is malfeasance because it:

(1) disobeys the Constitution 1st Amendment prohibiting our government from endorsing or promoting a religion and requiring government neutrality regarding religion (neither pro-religion nor anti-religion, but religion-neutral);

(2) distorts the remembrance tradition with dominating religious scripture;

(3) distracts from remembrance by promoting religion not shared by all POWs, MIAs or military veterans;

(4) disrespects millions of Americans who are not fundamentalist Christians; and

(5) disregards normal dinner table settings that do not include religious scripture placed in the middle of them.

“It has been suggested that [the military chaplaincy] has a tendency to introduce religious disputes into the Army, which above all things should be avoided, and in many instances would compel men to a mode of Worship which they do not profess.” – 1st President and Commander-in-Chief GEORGE WASHINGTON

Brigadier General John Compere, US Army (Retired)
Disabled American Veteran (Vietnam Era)

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