Wednesday, March 09, 2016

VA Removes Bible from POW/MIA Table After Activists Complain

Brittany M. Hughes | March 8, 2016 10:57am ET

A Veterans Administration clinic in Ohio just removed a Bible from its POW/MIA display after activists complained it violated the religious freedom rights of non-Christians.

According to the Christian Post, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation contacted the clinic and asked that the Bible be taken off the display because it was offending veterans of other faiths.

From the report:

Mikey Weinstein, founder and president of the MRFF, told The Christian Post that his organization became aware of the Bible at the display after they were contacted by 11 veterans of diverse faiths who were receiving treatment at the clinic.

"The New Testament only represents one particular perspective and it doesn't honor all veterans and all POWs and MIAs," said Weinstein, who noted that seven of the 11 veterans were Christian.

Weinstein also told the Christian Post, "The VA is not a private separate little hospital unit. It's an organ of the United States government and in this country we separate, with our wonderful Constitution, church and state.”

Unfortunately for Weistein and his argument, the U.S. Constitution does not actually guarantee a “separation of church and state,” but rather ensures that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

And the last time we checked, placing a Bible on a display as a symbol of faith to honor prisoners of war or those missing in action doesn’t establish Christianity as the official national religion, nor does it prohibit those of other faiths from practicing their religions freely.

In fact, the Christian Post notes the National League of POW/MIA Families official policy for the so-called “Missing Man Table” allows for the inclusion of a Bible among the authorized display items as a symbol of a person's faith. According to the policy, the Bible “represents the strength gained through faith to sustain us and those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God.”

The Christian Post added that not everyone was happy about the Bible’s removal from the table:

Ron Crews, a retired chaplain who serves as executive director for the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, told CP that he was "disappointed" by the removal of the Bible.

"The table has been part of military tradition for many decades. When I was on active duty we often had such a table at special events," said Crews.

There were precise elements for the table and a Bible was included to reflect the faith of the missing person. I have read the accounts of many former POWs and all spoke of how faith sustained them."

Crews also told CP that he felt "just because something offends does not mean that it has to be removed."

"At some point we have to take a stand for all those who do find comfort and strength in their faith. A Bible on the Missing Man Table is a small way to acknowledge their sacrifice," added Crews.



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