Conservative Christians infuriated that Navy orders Bibles removed from its lodges
Religion News Service reports that the United States Navy has angered conservatives with its decision not to allow complementary Bibles in the guest rooms of its lodges.
The nonprofit atheist group Freedom From Religious Foundation (FFRF) sent a letter in March complaining that “[p]roviding bibles to guests in Navy-run hotels amounts to a government endorsement of that religious text. Including bibles sends the message to non-Christian and non-religious guests that they should read the bible… Such a practice alienates non-Christian guests whose religious beliefs are inconsistent with the message being promoted by the bibles, including the 20% of the U.S. population that is nonreligious.”
The Navy Chaplain has responded, ordering the Navy Lodge General Manager to “remove religious material currently in the guest rooms.”
FFRF Staff Attorney Sam Grover said that “[b]y removing bibles from Navy-run lodges, the Navy has taken a step to ensure that it is not sending the impermissible message that Christians are favored over guests with other religious beliefs or over those guests with no religion.”
However, the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty struck back this week, with former chaplain Colonel Ron Crews saying that “[a] Bible in a hotel room is no more illegal than a chaplain in the military. 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. Our service men and women are often away from home, sometimes for long periods of time. It’s perfectly constitutional and legal to allow the Gideons to provide, at their own expense, this source of comfort for service men and women of faith.”
The American Family Association released an “action alert” on Friday which stated that “[o]ur U.S. soldiers are being asked to respect the Muslim religion while Christians are being categorically discriminated against. Such an attack on religious liberty has no place in the United States military.”
[“Gideon’s Bible” via Joshua H. on Flickr, Creative Commons license]