Congressman, Freedom Advocates Object to POW/MIA Bible Removals
Update: More recent coverage of this “controversy” cites the VA saying “the hospital received complaints from…a former prisoner of war who was not a Christian.” Given that such a claim would have been a coup for Weinstein, and it has appeared in no other report, it is likely an error in reporting.
Update: The ACLJ published a statement contradicting Mikey Weinstein’s machinations and a petition calling for a defense of the Bible in “Veterans’ Displays.” The Army Times covered the removal of a Bible from another display, this one at Tobyhanna Army Depot (which hosts 93 soldiers), where no one apparently knew how the Bible even got there.
US Congressmen and a variety of religious liberty groups have objected to the forced removal of Bibles from POW/MIA remembrance tables at facilities in Ohio and Texas. The removals came at the request of Michael “Mikey” Weinstein, who called the inclusion of the Bibles an act of “supremacy.”
Congressman Doug Collins (R-Ga), also a Reserve AF Chaplain, had previously said he was “appalled” that the VA “caved” to Weinstein’s “antics.”
This organization has devoted itself to attacking Christians and undermining the religious freedoms guaranteed to our men and women in uniform by the Constitution.
In response, the reliably infantile Mikey Weinstein
called Collins an ignoramus and “worthless sack of bigotry and prejudice” [and] said Collins “is to Constitutional freedom of religion knowledge as what dog crap on fine china is to a formal dining.”
…Weinstein accused Collins of “substantiating the putrescent mantra of fundamentalist Christian predators in our U.S. military…”
More recently, Congressman Mike Turner (R-OH) wrote a letter to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base’s General Ellen Pawlikowski saying it was “dangerous” for the US military to be kowtowing to activists with axes to grind [emphasis added]:
It is simply unacceptable that (Wright-Patterson) personnel removed the Bible from the display, and I am concerned that similar efforts to restrict religious freedom may be made at other military installations.
Congressman Turner said that a government installation making policy changes merely because of complaints from “a group that has an issue” sets a “very dangerous precedent.”
Congressman Turner made another point, alluding to Mikey Weinstein’s unique influence to military leaders:
“This is an issue of national policy, not an issue of individual affront or concern, and it needs to be handled in that manner…[Mikey Weinstein’s] voice should not be greater than anyone else’s.“
Tradition and policies both expressly permit the inclusion of Bible in POW/MIA remembrance displays — though neither they nor any religious belief require the inclusion of a Bible.
There are POW/MIA displays around the country — some with Bibles, some without. What you don’t see is Christians running around demanding the inclusion of Bibles where there isn’t one. Instead, Mikey Weinstein — a former Air Force JAG with the constitution of a delicate flower — is becoming proactively offended at the Bible and seeking out confrontation by intentionally targeting the Bible.
For years Mikey Weinstein has routinely cited such things as “18 complaints, 14 from practicing Christians, etc,” as if such random numbers mean anything. Unfortunately, as is his desire, some media outlets parrot the citations without thought. In actuality, he allegedly socializes potential “complaints” within his own organization, essentially trolling for internal accomplices who likely didn’t even know about the “incident” until he brought it to them — and they’re often (though not always) willing to pad his meaningless numbers.
As to the complaints themselves, some have been genuine — others, manufactured. Some of the mournful (and anonymous) letters to Mikey Weinstein bemoaning persecution by Christians have actually been written by members of Weinstein’s own MRFF — and at least one MRFF “client” admitted Weinstein coached him on how to write his letter before Weinstein published it. For example, a USAFA cadet in 2011 “didn’t really think much about” Operation Christmas Child — until the MRFF subsequently persuaded him he should be offended.
Christians aren’t threatening to sue organizations if the Bible isn’t included in their POW/MIA table, because it neither picks their pocket nor breaks their leg whether a building or group includes a Bible. However, when someone actively chooses to remove a Bible because it is a Bible, and when that someone is an agent of the US government, there is trouble to be had.
At this point, the Family Research Council, Thomas More Law Center, Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, and many others have published and publicized their objections to the VA and Air Force kowtowing to Weinstein. The letter by Congressman Turner, however, is the first in which the Air Force is being required to answer for surrendering to the anti-Christian activist and actively banning the Bible.
Regrettably, activists, extremists, and bigots like Mikey Weinstein often feel they can succeed in scrubbing Christianity from the public square precisely because Christians aren’t willing to stand up against such attacks. When an institution like the VA or the Air Force perceives they can avoid controversy by acquiescing to the bigots, they will do so.
Only when Christians voice their defense for religious liberty is the “path of least resistance” no longer an easy option to quell bad publicity at the expense of liberty.
Fortunately, there are organizations that defend military religious freedom from Mikey Weinstein’s attacks, and they have done so successfully. Whether they prevail here remains to be seen, but at least the voice of liberty will be heard.