Mikey Weinstein Attacks POW/MIA Displays
POW/MIA display tables — symbolically empty tables representing those who did not come home — have long been a fixture in military dining halls and formal ceremonies. They’ve also been a sore spot for militant secularists, who object to the traditional inclusion of a Bible on the table. Prior controversies have been discussed before, including one at Patrick Air Force Base earlier this year that resulted in the table being completely removed because it was “divisive.”
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein has now gotten into the fray, complaining to the US Navy that an official Navy blog included an info graphic of the traditional table — complete with Bible:
Weinstein had a predictably adjective-filled response:
The purpose of this letter is to inform you of an egregious and wholly unconstitutional violation committed by the administrators of the official U.S. Navy weblog…The picture included a wholly erroneous and fraudulent representation of our nation’s “Christian heritage…” [This is a] clearly sectarian and loathsome message…[which] indicates a complete and utter disregard and disrespect for the No Establishment clause of the First Amendment…which the blog unashamedly violates with astonishingly bold and brazen abandon.
Weinstein further called the display “disgustingly bigoted,” an “absolute disgrace and unbridled slap-in-the-face,” and “pathetic, consitutionally infirm.”
As has been discussed before, the inclusion of a Bible on the POW/MIA table is consistent with guidance from the Department of Defense. Truthfully, it is also consistent with the stories told by POWs themselves. Still, it is not the first time a POW/MIA table has been attacked. For example, an Air Force Chief Master Sergeant complained to both the IG and EO about the local POW/MIA table having a Bible — both of whom said it was acceptable.
For Weinstein, this may represent an attempt to test the waters on a variety of military traditions that include religious references. POW/MIA displays are normally a very sensitive subject, and if the Navy capitulates, Weinstein will have broken the ice on his ability to go after other references to faith in US military traditions, even those held virtually “sacred” — like the remembrance of the sacrifice of those held prisoner or missing in action.
As Weinstein’s backers began to attack the Navy site itself (and where it was repeated), retired US Army Chaplain (Col) Ron Crews weighed in with an interesting response:
Having a Bible on this table should be no more offensive to atheists [than] having a wine glass is offensive to teetotalers.
He’s right. These people are looking for offense, and many are militantly (and unapologetically) attempting to scrub religious references from the military. That religious freedom permits or even demands the military allow such references is of no consequence to those who hate it.
Weinstein claims the inclusion of a Bible on a POW/MIA table is a “scurrilous action of fundamentalist Christian supremacy.”
The inclusion of the Bible is a benign, symbolic expression of the faith of our troops who were Prisoners of War or Missing in Action.