Navy to put Bibles back in lodges

Navy Chaplain reading the Bible

Navy decides to put Bibles back in lodges

In June, the Navy ordered all their lodges to remove all religious materials, including Gideon Bibles, from their thousands of guest rooms. Last week they reversed their decision, telling hotel management to return the Bibles back to the rooms.

According to Stars and Stripes, the brief removal of the good book raised protest from several Christian organizations.

With the decision to put the Bibles back in the guest rooms, America Family Association President Tim Wildmon rejoiced on the association’s web site posting, “This is great news!”

The Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, which advocates for the free practice of religion in the military, called it an act of censorship and criticized the Navy for bending to the atheist complaint.

“It’s tiresome to see senior military leaders needlessly cave in to activist groups offended by anything Christian,” Ron Crews, a retired colonel and chaplain who is the executive director of the group, said in a released statement when the decision to remove the Bible was first discovered.

Atheists had applauded the initial decision after a complaint prompted the decision to remove the Bibles to its lost-and-found bins this summer, but the Navy said it renounced the decision because it was made without consulting senior leadership.

The Washington Post reported that the Freedom From Religion Foundation expressed their disappointment.

“The bottom line is that the Navy’s preferential treatment of Bibles shows an unconstitutional preference for Christianity over all other religions and over non-religion,” Sam Grover, the atheist group’s staff lawyer said. “We are confident that ultimately the Navy will revise its policy to conform to the requirements of the Constitution, which each Navy service member has sworn an oath to uphold and defend.”

Grover said the Freedom From Religion Foundation did not expect Bibles or other religious materials to entirely disappear from Navy lodges. The organization offered a suggestion that Bibles and other religious and atheist texts be available upon request at the front desk.

According to The Washington Post, FFRF is not only pressuring the Navy for change. Grover said the group has sent a similar letter to the Air Force, which removed the Bibles from its lodges in 2012 and returned them after a similar outcry.

“That decision and our religious accommodation policies with regard to the placement of religious materials are under review,” Navy Spokesman Cmdr. Ryan Perry stated via email to Stars and Stripes. “While that review is under way, religious materials removed from Navy Lodge rooms will be returned.”

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