by Chris Woodward and Jody Brown
A national traditional-values group is taking the U.S. Navy to task for directing that Gideon Bibles be removed from every hotel room on its military bases.
A June 19 directive from NEXCOM (Navy Exchange Service Command) has resulted in housekeepers at Navy Lodges and base hotels being instructed to remove Gideon-placed Bibles from the rooms and put them in boxes that would be taken to donation centers. One of those housekeepers informed the American Family Association (AFA) of the new policy via an email.
In an Action Alert to its supporters on Monday, AFA says the directive orders lodge managers to contact base commanders and chaplains and facilitate removing the Bibles and other “religious material currently in the guest rooms.” According to the NEXCOM directive, the action is to be completed by September 1.
AFA’s director of governmental affairs, Sandy Rios, finds the Navy’s move upsetting. She says Christians need to fight back.
Sandy Rios”We can’t let this stand,” she stated on American Family Radio today. “The Air Force did this … when Mikey Weinstein, now the famous atheist, came after them. But there was a lot of pushback and so they reversed their decision.
“That’s what we have to do this time,” she continued. “We have to shout loudly on behalf of our service members and their families who would be staying in these facilities.”
In 2012, the Air Force tried to remove Bibles from its lodgings but reversed itself after public outcry. AFA has urged its supporters to contact both Rear Admiral Robert Bianchi, asking him to reverse the decision; and Michael Bockelman, VP NEXCOM, who actually approved and signed the directive.
Both AFA and Fox News point out the directive came after an atheist group – Freedom From Religion Foundation – filed a formal complaint over the placement of Bibles in the rooms.
Pattern of religious hostility in the military
Mike Berry is director of military affairs for Liberty Institute, which is based in Plano, Texas.
“Many of our military’s religious traditions and observances pre-date America’s founding, but groups like the Freedom From Religion Foundation want to erase that history,” states Berry.
“We’ve seen Bibles temporarily banned from military hospitals, demands that veterans’ memorials be torn down, and crosses removed from military chapels. This is just the latest in a well-documented pattern of hostility against religion in our military.”
He points out the Department of Defense issued a directive in January that strengthened religious rights for service members – then asks: “How is that possible when the Navy decides that Bibles are no longer allowed in guest rooms? It appears that the Navy does not want its Sailors to enjoy religious freedom.”