POW/MIA Network Seeks to Intervene in Lawsuit over Bible
POW/MIA lawsuit may be decided on National POW/MIA Recognition Day…
The Northeast POW/MIA Network has asked the Courts to allow it to intervene in the lawsuit between James Chamberlain and the Veterans Administration, in which Chamberlain (who is being ‘sponsored’ by Michael “Mikey” Weinstein) has claimed the Manchester, NH, VA Medical Center is violating the Constitution by allowing a Bible to sit on a POW/MIA remembrance table. The Network sponsored the display in question, and provided the Bible:
The veterans group that sponsors the oldest continuing POW-MIA vigil in the country is asking a federal court to allow it to intervene in a case that centers on whether a former POW’s Bible can be featured in a lobby display at the Manchester VA hospital…
The Manchester display includes a Bible donated by Herman “Herk” Streitburger, a Bedford man who served in the U.S. Army Air Corps in World War II and was captured and held as a German POW before managing to escape. Streitburger…is now 100 years old…
Texas-based First Liberty Institute is representing the Northeast POW/MIA Network in its motion to intervene in the case.
That statement probably hits they key points of why this makes Mikey Weinstein — the impetus behind the lawsuit — nervous.
First, it highlights the fact the POW/MIA remembrance table was set up by an actual POW/MIA group, and the Bible came from an actual former POW. Contrast that with Chamberlain — a veteran with no apparent connection to POW/MIAs — and Mikey Weinstein, who, as an Air Force Captain, faced his only hostilities in the military while making briefings about the breakup of AT&T.
Mikey Weinstein comes across as a vindictive malcontent with the gall to tell a former POW how POWs should be remembered. Those optics could take some serious winds out of Weinstein’s fundraising sails.
Further, Chamberlain and Weinstein probably want to keep this between them and the faceless government. Not only would the POW/MIA network’s involvement put a human face on the ‘defendant,’ it would also officially bring First Liberty into the fray. First Liberty is an actual religious freedom advocacy group (as opposed to Weinstein’s wrongly-named MRFF), and they’ve been quite successful in their recent influence regarding military religious freedom. (See, for example, their call for the VA to change its policies on religious issues — and their subsequent response.) By contrast, Weinstein has not.
The Chamberlain lawsuit was futile from the start (assuming winning the lawsuit was the actual goal, which, in Weinstein’s case, is questionable). With the advocacy of the POW/MIA Network and First Liberty, however, it is almost certainly doomed.
The article indicates a hearing on a motion to dismiss is set for September 16th. A dismissal that day would apropos, given that the National POW/MIA Recognition Day is a few days later on September 20th. The end of the case would remind people of religious freedom — both that of the POW/MIAs and those around them, reassuring them they can remember the faith of POW/MIAs, and do so with a Bible.
For context, to date, no religious liberty lawsuit by the MRFF has survived the motion to dismiss.
- 2005: Weinstein v US Air Force, dismissed
- 2007: MRFF & Hall v Gates, voluntarily dismissed
- 2008: MRFF & Chalker v Gates, dismissed
- 2010: Weinstein v Ammerman, dismissed
- 2011: MRFF v Gould, dismissed
Weinstein also claims he “joined” the American Humanist lawsuit against the Bladensburg Peace Cross — which the AHA lost at the Supreme Court. Not exactly a sterling record, is it?