ack in 2012, after receiving countless complaints about Bibles bearing the official military branch emblems showing up on PX and BX shelves across the military, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) took action, successfully getting these military Bibles, published by Holman Bible Publishers, disallowed by all four military branches. This wasn’t a difficult fight, given that Department of Defense (DoD) trademark and licensing regulations are crystal clear on the subject, unambiguously stating that official military emblems cannot be used on items promoting religion. Holman Bible Publishers changed the covers of their military Bibles from sporting official military branch emblems to a more generic design, and life went on.
In recent years, the most common complaint received by MRFF, replacing the previous most common complaint of the Holman Bibles, has been the placement of Bibles on POW/MIA table displays at military installations and VA facilities. These tables, also called “missing man” tables, are a tradition started during the Vietnam War era in which a table is set with an empty chair, acknowledging those service members who are missing in action or prisoners of war. These tables are found in military dining facilities and elsewhere on military installations, set up as permanent displays, and it is also a common practice at events such as military balls and banquets to perform a ceremony during which the table is set while a script is read explaining the symbolism of each item as it is placed on the table.
Now these two issues have collided at the Navy Operational Support Center (NOSC) Alameda, California, where a POW/MIA table in the facility’s break room not only contains a Christian Bible, but the particular Bible displayed is the Holman “Sailor’s Bible,” one of the Holman military Bibles with the official branch emblem that MRFF got banned by the military back in 2012!
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