ACLJ: VA Appeasing Mikey Weinstein, Discriminating Against Religion
In a well-written piece posted at the ACLJ, senior counsel Skip Ash (who recently disassembled an MRFF attack on religious liberty) wryly noted that Michael “Mikey” Weinstein is saving the world, one “New Testament Bible” at a time:
In fact, he has been on an anti-“New-Testament-Bible” (using Mr. Weinstein’s words) warpath of late, writing to various VA facilities demanding that any and all Bibles be removed forthwith. To make matters worse, some VA officials have actually caved to his demands.
Ash notes the same thing said here many times: When the government singles out one viewpoint or one religion for special treatment (that is, the Bible), it violates the very rules its claiming to defend [emphasis added]:
Government-run facilities, like VA facilities, may not generally single out religious expression for detrimental treatment. In other words, if non-religious literature is available for use by persons waiting for appointments, for example, religious material cannot be excluded. Once again, Mr. Weinstein has concocted a Constitutional crisis where none, in fact, exists. Worse, VA’s actions to seek out and remove only religious materials actually violated the law!
The simple answer, of course, is to ignore Mikey Weinstein and let the Bibles sit there. There is no law, regulation, or policy that bans Bibles from public view, even in government facilities. The military had demonstrated that if you ignore him, Weinstein eventually sulks away — his dramatic threats and bombast notwithstanding.
The ACLJ has responded to these issues in the past, and religious liberty groups have been successful in having the VA issue policies reminding its employees they cannot discriminate against religion just because Mikey Weinstein wants them to.
To that end, the ACLJ has sent a letter (PDF) to the VA which says, in short:
VA patients are deemed to be “reasonable observers.” As such, they are deemed to know that the presence of religious reading material placed with other, non-religious reading material does not mean that the VA is endorsing a religious message, just as the placement of some non-religious literature to the exclusion of other secular literature does not mean that the VA endorses the secular message of the materials it provides.
As with its prior correspondence, the ACLJ also spent a few pages introducing the VA to Mikey Weinstein in his own hate-filled words, something that has been an effective technique to date.
Given his prior reactions, stand by for a letter from Mikey Weinstein to the VA in response, saying, essentially, “But…but…but…”
Mikey Weinstein is waging a long-running war in his attacks on military religious freedom. Fortunately, there are organizations like the ACLJ who are defending US troops against his efforts to restrict their rights.