Mikey Weinstein Continues War on POW/MIA Tables
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein continues to scour the country in search of POW/MIA remembrance tables about which he can complain — if they should have the gall to have the traditional Bible on them.
Weinstein has had some (though not total) success over the years wielding his “ignoramus’ veto” over the Bibles in the displays. It has tended to be the gift that keeps on giving, because no matter how the targeted organization responds, Weinstein will try to vaunt the story in the press and use it as fundraising material. Either it is a great victory for his anti-Christian cause, or it is an indicator of Christians trying to take over the world. Either way, he tells his followers, send more money.
Many of the groups that have responded by removing Bibles from POW/MIA tables have done so simply because it seems like the “easier” course of action — to make the loudest critic go away. As a result, when the opposing viewpoint raises cries later, the organizations shrug.
However, the First Liberty Institute recently weighed in when the MRFF demanded a Bible be removed from a VA Medical Center table in Manchester, NH. In this case, Weinstein appears to have pushed his luck too far, because the Bible in question was an actual POW’s Bible. During World War II, US Army Air Corps TSgt Herman “Herk” Streitburger was a B-24 radio operator and gunner flying out of Italy when he was shot down and held as a Prisoner of War by the Germans (until he escaped).* It was the 99-year old Streitburger who donated the Bible for the display erected last fall. (Streitburger has spoken to Air Force audiences in the past.)
First Liberty noted the VA was “absolutely within the law to allow the display of a donated Bible.”
When Weinstein initially complained, the VA acquiesced and removed the Bible. Given that it was personal property and of some notable value, they placed it in a glass case by the door while they determined its disposition — to which Weinstein objected even more strongly. Clearly, it was the existence of the Bible at the VA at all, not merely on the POW/MIA table, that had raised Weinstein’s ire.
(Somewhat comically, the completely separate Freedom From Religion Foundation also claims they were responsible for getting the Bible removed from that display — and they were “satisfied” with the VA’s response. The atheist FFRF and bigoted MRFF are sometimes confused for each other.)
Though the story has died down in the press (which may explain Weinstein’s sudden lack of interest in it), local reports indicated the Bible was set to return to the POW/MIA table — protected by a case.
Meanwhile, the VA Medical Center in Sioux Falls, SD, was the victim of a similar attack by Weinstein — and they had an interesting response [emphasis added]:
You expressed concerns about a Bible being in the front lobby and requested immediate removal. An inspection of the front foyer was conducted, and there was one displayed in the POW/MIA Missing Man display.
After consulting our legal counsel, we do not agree this display violates the U.S. Constitution, particularly the Establishment Clause. In an effort to resolve your concerns, the Bible was removed from the enclosed historical Missing Man case on March 27, 2019 and replaced with a donated artifact belonging to a former WWII POW.
The “donated artifact” was another Bible.
While this reliance on historical Bibles (as opposed to symbolic ones) is an entertaining and a valid turn of events, it should not undermine the core statement that the Bible itself — historical or not — is not unconstitutional, illegal, or otherwise in violation of any policy.
It’s good to see organizations stand up to professional bullies like Mikey Weinstein. Perhaps the nation can return to honoring and remembering its POWs and MIAs, rather than promoting Mikey Weinstein’s flavor of bigotry.
Also noted at the Northeast POW/MIA Network, whose president, Bob Jones, was the primary voice opposing Mikey Weinstein.
Also at the FRC.
*Some quotes say Streitburger carried the Bible as a POW and escapee. Streitburger himself doesn’t appear to have said that, and given the size of the Bible and his bailout, capture, and escape, it seems unlikely — though it would be a great story if true.