The Bibles are back: Navy lodges scuttle removal plan
    August 18 2014 by Cathy Lynn Grossman, Religion News Service

    The Gideon Bibles are going back in the Navy’s nightstand drawers

    In June, the U.S. Navy ordered housekeepers at thousands of Navy-owned guest lodges near U.S. and international bases to remove the Bibles and any other “religious materials” from their rooms. Scriptures would remain available on request.

     
    navy08-18-14.jpg

    Photo courtesy of Official Navy Page from United States of America MC2 Timothy Walter/U.S. Navy [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
    Lt. Cmdr. Jose Arana, maintenance officer for Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 9, stands at attention during a change of command ceremony in the squadron’s hangar at a Naval station.

    But public outcry, prompted this week by a social media alert from the American Family Association (AFA) and protests by the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, led the brass to reverse course Friday (Aug. 15).
     
    Now, the Navy’s “religious accommodation policies with regard to the placement of religious materials are under review,” Navy spokesman Cmdr. Ryan Perry wrote in an email to Stars and Stripes, the daily military newspaper. Meanwhile, the Bibles (New Testament and Psalms but no Hebrew Bible) will be tucked back into nightstand drawers.
     
    AFA President Tim Wildmon rejoiced on the association’s web site: “This is great news!”
     
    A letter from the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) prompted the original order to remove the Bibles. The atheists proposed that the Navy offer Bibles and other texts – including an atheist treatise, “The Born Again Skeptic’s Guide to the Bible” – on request at lodge front desks.
     
    “The bottom line is that the Navy’s preferential treatment of Bibles … shows an unconstitutional preference for Christianity over all other religions and over nonreligion,” Sam Grover, the atheist group’s staff lawyer, told Religion News Service Friday (Aug. 15).  “We are confident that ultimately the Navy will revise its policy to conform with the requirements of the Constitution, which each Navy service member has sworn an oath to uphold and defend.”
     
    FFRF is not only pressing 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.
     
    (EDITOR’S NOTE – Cathy Lynn Grossman is a senior national correspondent for Religion News Service, specializing in stories drawn from research and statistics on religion, spirituality and ethics, and manager for social media.)

    8/18/2014 12:44:59 PM by Cathy Lynn Grossman, Religion News Service | with 0 comments
    Filed under: Bibles, Freedom From Religion Foundation, U.S. Navy




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