FE Warren Air Force Base Commander Pulls Bible from POW Display

Update:  “Shame” from the Washington Times.  Also at the Baptist Joint Committee., with more vitriol from the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

I lived on what I referred to as faith. There were four. One was faith in myself. Two was faith in those around me. Three was faith in my country. And four was faith in my God.
– US Air Force Capt (Ret) William Robinson, the longest-held enlisted Prisoner of War in American history

Michael “Mikey” Weinstein is again gloating about his success in persuading a military base to remove a Bible from a POW/MIA remembrance table.

But it isn’t the giant scandal it may seem.

For Weinstein, POW displays are the gift that keeps on giving. There are literally thousands of them around the world, and, despite some apparent implications, there is no unified policy on what is “approved” in such a display. Thus, local commanders or office managers make those decisions — making each one an “opportunity.”

Mikey Weinstein can demand a Bible be removed from a POW/MIA display every few weeks and, one way or the other, try to stay in the news. This pattern has repeated for years, and Weinstein is not always successful — though his stinging defeats seem to be less well known than his “victories.”  (Several years ago, an Inspector General even defended the inclusion of Bibles in POW displays.)

In other words, Weinstein’s current display of bigotry isn’t anything new.

To the meat of the issue, as has been repeatedly noted before, there is no policy or law requiring a Bible in a POW/MIA display. There is also nothing that prohibits one from being there.  The problem arises when someone of governmental authority takes action against a displayed Bible based only upon the religious nature of Bible. That’s discriminatory. But because the Bible is generally associated with Christianity, it is also socially acceptable.

No one is prowling the country demanding the inclusion of Bibles on POW/MIA tables. Someone is prowling the country demanding their removal. Since Weinstein sometimes “wins,” the net effect is fewer Bibles on display, which is exactly what Mikey Weinstein wants — because he is offended by the Bible.

And make no mistake, it is the offense of Weinstein and his ilk driving this public Bible scrubbing; his demands have nothing to do with “inclusivity.” At FE Warren, Weinstein made a point of saying:

Our MRFF clients under Col. Huser’s command remain resolute in their most fervent objection to this blatant display of fundamentalist Christian supremacy, domination and exceptionalism…

To which Col Stacy Huser replied:

One of my focus areas is increasing a sense of belonging for all our Airmen a large part of that effort is ensuring that the religious and non-religious feel included and cared for.

The obvious issue, of course, is that the POW/MIA table is not about anyone “feel[ing] included and cared for.” This is not about them. The POW/MIA table is designed to remember others, not commemorate — or support the self esteem of — current troops or veterans. That a current US Airman, Soldier, Sailor, or Marine is offended by the Bible on the POW table is irrelevant — the Bible is a callback to the experiences of the POWs, not that offended troop.

But it seems Mikey Weinstein has managed to convince some troops their personal feelings are more important than the memory of the POW/MIAs.

As for the former POWs themselves, not a single one has gone public against the display of the Bibles — something Mikey Weinstein would certainly consider a coup. By contrast, many former POWs have spoken of the faith that got them through their captivity, as well as the group activities that bonded and strengthened them — including commander-ordered prayer, songs, and even a “church riot.”

As every script demonstrates, the Bible is intended to represent “faith in a higher power” — the faith that supported their resilience during captivity.

That isn’t “Christian supremacy, domination and exceptionalism.” That isn’t intended to make all Airmen today feel “cared for.” It’s intended to cause you to pause and recognize the pain, suffering, sacrifice, strength, and courage of the POWs who returned with honor — as well as those still missing.

It’s not about you.

Mikey Weinstein’s ego knows no bounds, so it is not surprising he would make this about himself. His hatred for Christianity is similarly unrestrained, so it is not surprising that he would twist this memorial into an attack on the public display of the Bible.

But it’s also not a surprise that he’d sometimes “win,” because the world is made up of all kinds of people — including people just like him.

What is surprising is the DoD’s decision to let this “controversy” play out over —  and over — and over — and over — and over — and over — and over — again. Clearly, either the DoD believes this to be a niche “scandal” that blows over with little repercussion, or the military isn’t willing to touch a unified policy — in either direction — with a ten-foot pole, apparently figuring the policy chaos is a better option than a potential legal morass.

Ultimately, removing Bibles from military displays because of complaints of offense by the likes of Mikey Weinstein has potentially unintended effects some seem to forget.

After all, what service member is “excluded” or “uncared for” if a Bible sits on a memorial table? Answer: Absolutely no one.

By contrast, what service member is “excluded” or “uncared for” if the military advances a bigot’s vendetta against Christianity by removing a displayed Bible? Answer: Every single Airman, Soldier, Sailor, and Marine for whom the Bible holds meaning.

Those troops don’t require a Bible on a POW/MIA table to feel “included.” But when the military validates or legitimizes the claims of a bigot that a Bible is an illegal and unconstitutional display of “supremacy” and “domination,” what message does the military send to those who follow that Bible?

It sometimes seems as if the military is willing to offend its own troops to placate the faux offense of an extremist agitator.

As noted by Todd Starnes (two more times), the FRC, the Washington Examiner, and the Military Times.


One comment

  • William Robinson

    Welcome back, CFP. We’ve missed you.

    That Mikey has no other script but this tired saw and so few “victories” these days is testament to the fact that nearly all senior leaders now completely ignore his bigotry. That’s progress.

    Unfortunately, this commander is learning a hard lesson she will regret, however well-intentioned she may have been. Hopefully, wiser commanders will learn from her error and not make the same mistake down the road.

    It’s an expensive professional development lesson for Huser and her SJA, but it may pay dividends for others who see—again—that Mikey is all about Mikey.

    Half of all military commanders swap out every single year, and none of them want to fail…or make fools of themselves the way Huser has. Which is why CFP should stay on the job of beating back bigots like Mikey. And teaching commanders to do the same.