Bibles removed from Navy guest rooms
The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to the U.S. Navy that triggered a response of removing all the bibles from their 3,000 Navy lodge guest rooms.
According to The Washington Post, the decision has enraged some conservative groups. The letter questioned the constitutionality of religious literature in the Navy.
The new directive allows religious materials to be available to Navy Lodge guests, both stateside and overseas, if requested. However, it disallows any religious items to be put in the guest rooms.
The American Family Association had asked their members to rally and contact Navy officials to reverse the decision. In agreement with their request is the Chaplains Alliance for Religious Liberty organization. They will be asking their member to do the same.
Fox News reported that a directive approved by Michael Bockelman, the director of the Navy Lodge Program read, “The Navy Lodge General Manager should advise the Installation Commanding Officer of our intention to work through the chaplain’s office to determine what installation policy is and the method to remove religious materials currently in the guest rooms.”
Kathleen Martin, a spokesperson for the Navy Exchange Service Command, stated, “Lodge managers are coordinating with base chaplains regarding the disposition of all religious material.”
The president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, Mikey Weinstein, told Fox News that he was happy to find out about the Navy’s decision. For seven years, the organization has requested that all religious materials be removed from military hotel rooms.
A supporter of the directive, he noted that it rights a constitutional wrong as the Establishment Clause does not allow the U.S. government to promote or favor any particular religion.
“We are happy to see the military doing that,” said Weinstein. “For years we’ve been telling them those Bibles are a violation of the Establishment Clause.”
The Chaplains Alliance for Religious Liberty said the Navy Exchange Service Command was trampling on a long-standing tradition, according to The Washington Post.
“A Bible in a hotel room is no more illegal than a chaplain in the military. They are there for those who want them,” said retired Army Reserve Chaplain Ron Crews. “There is nothing wrong with allowing the Gideons to place bibles in Navy lodges, which it has done for decades at no cost to the Navy.”
“This is just one more assault by military leaders against anything Christian,” Crews stated. “It’s getting tiresome to see senior military leaders cave in to those who appear to be offended by Christians, by Christian symbols and now by the Bible itself.”