Michael “Mikey” Weinstein announced that his MRFF — which is currently suing to have a Bible removed from a POW/MIA display at the Manchester VA — had staged a stunt in which a “client” placed a stack of texts on the POW/MIA table of varying faith traditions.
The VA said it would not “tolerate” organizations messing with the displays and would remove the other books, which mirrored their other forceful statement protecting the display.
Importantly, having other faith texts placed on the display is not the “relief sought” in the current lawsuit. The suit seeks only the removal of the Bible.
James L. Chamberlain, the token plaintiff and Read more
VA spokesman Curtis Cashour’s statement was quoted in the last article, but it turns out it had been slightly edited. This was the full sentence that spoke to the VA’s feelings on the lawsuit — and Mikey Weinstein [emphasis added]:
“This lawsuit – backed by a group known for questionable practices and unsuccessful lawsuits – is nothing more than an attempt to force VA into censoring a show of respect for America’s POW/MIA community.”
or, as paraphrased at Read more
As previously noted, both the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation claimed they contacted the VA Medical Center in Manchester, New Hampshire, to demand a Bible be removed from the POW/MIA display in the foyer. The Bible was removed “out of an abundance of caution,” but the backlash — and a subsequent legal review — led the VA to apologize and return the Bible, which was donated by World War II POW and Army Air Corps TSgt Herman “Herk” Streitburger [emphasis added]:
“Manchester VAMC officials temporarily removed the Bible from the display out of an abundance of caution,” VA spokeswoman Kristin Pressly said in a statement provided to USA TODAY. “Following that removal, Manchester VAMC received an outpouring of complaints from Veterans and other stakeholders – many of whom dropped off Bibles at the facility – in protest of this action.”
Pressly said that after consulting with lawyers, the facility determined the Bible will stay and “remain indefinitely as part of the missing man display, a secular tribute to America’s POW/MIA community.”
“We apologize to the Veterans, families and other stakeholders who were offended by our incorrect removal of this Bible,” she said.
Note that this apology came from Kristin Pressly, speaking for the VA, not the Manchester medical facility.
Now, James Chamberlain, described as a “devout Christian” and “Air Force veteran,” has filed a lawsuit (PDF) to force the Manchester VA to remove Read more
The US Court of Appeals for the DC circuit ruled last week that the US House of Representatives was not required to permit an atheist to “pray”. Dan Barker of the Freedom From Religion Foundation had sued Patrick Conroy, the former House Chaplain, for denying him the opportunity to “pray” at the opening of the legislative day.
Importantly, the court made a point of saying the House’s exercise was a religious exercise — and since Barker wasn’t offering a religious exercise, he had no claim: Read more
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 Read more
Writing in the Stars and Stripes, First Liberty attorney Mike Berry rebutted recent calls to restrict religious freedom in the US military.
Referring to last month’s appeal by the Freedom from Religion Foundation and American Atheists for Secretary of Defense James Mattis to end military prayers, Berry pointed out the errors of the groups’ demands and then said [emphasis added]
Were the DOD to give in to the groups’ demands, the harm our military would suffer would be catastrophic. Religious freedom in the military is not a luxury; it is every bit a necessity as bullets, beans and bandages. Religious freedom is a force multiplier that enables all troops — regardless of their faith, or no faith — to prepare themselves for what may be required of them in military service.
The taking of a life — or indeed, the ultimate sacrifice of one’s own life — while Read more
The Freedom From Religion Foundation and American Atheists sent a letter (PDF) yesterday to Secretary of Defense James Mattis calling on him to act to end “coerced religious observances” within the military. Alison Gill and Rebecca Markert write that
The complainants allege, among other things, that facility organizers regularly include scheduled prayer in graduation ceremonies, cadets who opt not to attend worship services on Sundays are instead given menial tasks to perform, and instructors regularly lead recruits in prayers prior to administering tests.
The letter provides no examples. It appears to Read more
Many have grown accustomed to Congress taking the military to task for what it considers breaches of the religious freedom of US troops. Sometimes those congressional reprimands seem to have “fixed” issues. Other times they haven’t — and Congress has decided to pass a law to fix it instead.
It was an interesting turn, then, to see Congress go out of its way not to chide once more, but to laud the Air Force for defending religious liberty:
Congressman Doug Collins (R-Ga.) and Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.) led a bicameral letter of support to Pease Air National Guard Base (ANGB) in response to a complaint that the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) lodged against the base…
As you’ll recall, the FFRF lodged vague, vicarious complaints about chaplains’ prayers during official events. Pease AFB was so unmoved it didn’t even bother to respond to the FFRF.
Congressman Collins, who is also an Air Force Reserve Chaplain, led Read more