VP Mike Pence to Mikey Weinstein: The Bible Stays

Vice President of the United States Mike Pence spoke at the American Legion National Convention in Indianapolis yesterday, and he had a message about a lawsuit against the Manchester VA for its display of a Bible on a POW/MIA table (previously discussed here):

You might’ve heard even today that there’s a lawsuit to remove a Bible that was carried in World War II from a Missing Man Table at a VA hospital in New Hampshire. There’s a lawsuit underway. It’s really no surprise because, under the last administration, VA hospitals were removing Bibles and even banning Christmas carols in an effort to be politically correct. But let me be clear: Under this administration, VA hospitals will not be religion-free zones.

We will always respect the freedom of religion of every veteran of every faith. And my message to the New Hampshire VA hospital is: The Bible stays.

A standing ovation followed.

Pence is incorrect on one point: There’s no evidence the Bible was “carried in World War II,” though it has occasionally been portrayed that way.

Atheist Hemant Mehta accused Pence of “spreading a lie” that Obama “removed Bibles from VA hospitals” — except that VP Pence didn’t say that. The examples Pence cited did happen under the Obama administration (as discussed here), so Mehta should probably reconsider the accusation. While no president can be held personally responsible for every action taken by individuals within the executive branch while they are in the White House, there is little doubt that they set the tone — and the tone that President Trump has set has been markedly different than that of his predecessors. Under President Trump, the VA is not folding to the critics; rather, they are standing up to the bullies.

Michael “Mikey” Weinstein — the self-proclaimed instigator of the lawsuit, though he is not a party to it — is normally quick to fundraise off things like this, but he’s been oddly silent. He will likely send out an email later today decrying the dominionist Christian Vice President violating the Constitution, or some such thing, and asking people to send him money so he can…put up a Facebook post? That’s just about all Weinstein does anymore.

The Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs, Robert Wilkie, has similarly said in the past few days that the unclear policies from the Obama administration had led to instances of incorrect treatment of religious liberty — including the initial temporary removal of the Bible from the Manchester VA:

Mr. Wilkie, noting the department’s murky directives on religious memorabilia, said he empathized with VA administrators who initially removed the Bible decorating the POW/MIA memorial table before replacing the book. The Bible was donated by a World War II veteran who had survived a German prisoner of war camp.

“I think the leadership of the VA hospital was still not sure how to act given the directives of the last administration,” Mr. Wilkie said.

A ruling in the lawsuit will likely be issued in the next few weeks.

This is what happens when you have people in government who understand religious liberty — and the government’s role in enabling it, not stifling it.

This is what happens when you vote.

You can read the full text of VP Pence’s speech, or watch it here.