Air Force Base Pulls POW Display over Bible
Patrick Air Force base removed its traditional POW/MIA table because someone raised a complaint over the presence of the Bible.
“The 45th Space Wing deeply desires to honor America’s Prisoners of War (POW) and Missing in Action (MIA) personnel,” commanders said in a written statement. “Unfortunately, the Bible’s presence or absence on the table at the Riverside Dining Facility ignited controversy and division, distracting from the table’s primary purpose of honoring POWs/MIAs. Consequently, we temporarily replaced the table with the POW/MIA flag in an effort to show our continued support of these heroes while seeking an acceptable solution to the controversy.”
“After consultation with several relevant organizations, we now intend to re-introduce the POW/MIA table in a manner inclusive of all POWs/MIAs as well as Americans everywhere.” the statement said.
It’s unclear how a POW/MIA table — which is supposed to represent POW/MIAs — is supposed to be “inclusive of…Americans everywhere.”
This isn’t the first time this has come up: An Air Force Chief Master Sergeant once lodged IG and EO complaints over the POW Bible. Both offices told him it was acceptable. Further, the table including a Bible is consistent with Air Force and Department of Defense guidance. Those instructions indicate the Bible is symbolic of the religious faith that has helped POWs persevere.
It is the commander’s prerogative to have a display at all. However, to proactively (and without necessity) restrict conduct further than DoD guidance only because of a complaint could feed the perception of hostility toward religion — or Christianity — in the Air Force.
Indeed, that’s how some people are already reacting to it.
To reiterate, Air Force and DoD policy explicitly permit a Bible to be present on a POW/MIA table. However, nothing requires a commander to have a display at all.
Choosing to censor a display, rather than defend the virtues of what the DoD has said it represents, could contribute to the perception the military is so afraid of religion or associations with Christianity that it will bend over backwards to scrub public displays of religion from within its ranks.
Which, quite honestly, is what some people want.
As an aside, this didn’t originate with FoxNews. Perhaps there’s a bigger issue than is thought.
Update: Chaplain BC — who occasionally comments here — commented on a Patheos Get Religion blog that cited ChristianFighterPilot.com. BC took issue with that author’s claim that the DoD policies cited above were “regulations.” He seems to have ignored the AFPAM.
Also at PatriotPost.