Soldier Complains After Bible Used During Army Ball

Update: The US Army later vaguely said it was “looking into” the complaint, though no complaint had been filed.

A US Army Soldier was “completely flabbergasted” that the POW/MIA ceremony at the Adjutant General’s Corps Regimental Association ball in South Korea included a Bible:

During the toast portion of the event, soldiers stationed throughout the crowd brought forward items used to construct the missing man table…

As the soldiers came forward, they briefly spoke about their item’s significance, the anonymous soldier said. The last of the items brought forward was a Bible.

The soldier who brought it forward talked about “strength through faith, and reminding us that we were founded as one nation under God,” the attendee said.

According to the article, the anonymous Soldier said 

I’m sitting there going like, ‘No, we weren’t. We’re a secular nation.’

In his publicized email to Michael “Mikey” Weinstein, the Soldier said

Much to my surprise, the last component to this POW / MIA table was a bible. I was completely taken aback by this.

The Soldier’s complaint is made-for-TV. Saying he was “flabbergasted” is sensationalist melodrama. To the contrary, he likely not only wasn’t surprised, but was also expecting it. After all, the Bible has been part of similar ceremonies for decades, and Bibles in POW/MIA ceremonies have obviously been in the news recently.  To be “surprised” by that would be like being surprised that NASCAR drivers turn left.  Thus, his call to Weinstein, who has just coincidentally been attacking Bibles in POW/MIA displays over the past few months.

His retort that we are a “secular nation” is a non sequitur. Whether or not the US is a “secular nation” is irrelevant to the POW/MIA ceremony, because saying “we were founded as one nation under God” does not mean the US is a sectarian nation.

The Soldier also chose his other words very carefully [emphasis added]:

As a Secular Humanist Atheist, there is no way that I felt part of the team after this transgression. Placing the Christian label on all uniformed personnel is a gross violation of religious freedom, and a warning shot to “fit in, or be ostracized.”

This is essentially Mikey Weinstein throwing mud against the wall to see what sticks. Weinstein included the kitchen sink in his complaint to LtGen Tom Vandal, commander of the Eighth Army in Korea, even going so far as to say the Army had managed to illegally endorse the non-profit organization Operation Worship. And how did that happen?

They’re the ones that printed the Bible used in the display. Makes sense, right?

And make no mistake: This is Mikey Weinstein, not oppressed US troops. He is the one making sure these “helpless subordinates” hit as many marks as they can:

  • Unable to use chain of command for fear of retaliation
  • Feel like a second-class citizen, ostracized
  • Loss of unit cohesion
  • Endorsing Christianity
  • Endorsing non-Federal entity
  • Violation of US Constitution
  • Violation of Joint Ethics Regulations
  • Etc, etc, etc.

In reality, none of these accusations is true. In some cases, the MRFF “clients” making these complaints didn’t even have a complaint until they talked to Mikey Weinstein — they just didn’t like what they saw. Only after they talked to the MRFF did they realize their personal dislike could be crafted into a message of helpless repression.

Other “clients” merely have a personal grudge either with seeing something religious or with Christianity in particular, and it is that personal motivation upon which they are acting, nothing more. For them, the MRFF becomes a tool with which they can attack the religious freedom of their peers (and they, in turn, become a tool for the MRFF).

By covering as many bases as possible with a laundry list of complaints, Weinstein hopes that one of them will be enough to scratch an itch and achieve his ends.

Not only do these troops not want to see or be exposed to anything religious, they also don’t want to allow their religious peers to do so, either — even if they want to.

That the presence of a Bible on a table neither picks their pocket nor breaks their leg matters not: If they do not like it, they think they should be able to stop it. They are not acting for the benefit of those the ceremony is intended to honor, nor those around them who might appreciate the ceremony.

They’re acting out of personal convenience — that they’d like to impose on everyone else. They believe their personal offense overrules any other consideration — including the religious liberty of fellow troops.

And that makes them a perfect fit with Mikey Weinstein, whose purpose is to fulfill his personal vendetta in his attacks on military religious freedom, restricting the presence of religion — or Christianity — wherever he finds it.

To be clear, this Soldier voluntarily attended a social event sponsored by a civilian non-profit organization, merely observed a traditional ceremony, and then decided he had to stop others from experiencing or participating in similar ceremonies — even if they wanted to.

He complained to Mikey Weinstein, who emailed LtGen Vandal. In a move he may come to regret, LtGen Vandal personally responded to Weinstein.

So this particular story may yet continue.

Regardless of Mikey Weinstein’s machinations, there is nothing wrong with having a Bible in a POW/MIA remembrance ceremony. (There’s also nothing wrong with not having one.)

Weinstein is free to complain, of course. And the US military is free to ignore Mikey Weinstein — encouraged, incidentally, by both civil rights groups and the US Congress to do so.

As an aside, the Army Times article included a poll question in its article:

“Should POW/MIA “missing man table” displays on federal or military installations, or showcased during events involving troops on duty, include a Bible?”

The breakdown in responses tended toward 60% for the Bible, 40% against — even after a couple of anti-theists tried to tilt the poll results.  One of those was Daron Williams, apparently the same guy who was encouraging people to undermine Strong Bonds retreats a couple of years ago — not because it affected him, but only because he wanted to deny that resource to others.  See the pattern?