Facing Blowback, Navy Retreats From Removing Hotel Bibles

Friday, 15 Aug 2014 06:07 PM

By John Blosser

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Bombarded by angry protests, the U.S. Navy has reversed a decision to remove copies of the Bible from guest rooms at Navy base lodges as demanded by an atheist group.

Fox News reports that the Navy has overridden an order from Navy Exchange Command (NEXCOM) to remove the Bibles pending a review of the situation and, in the meantime, Bibles that were removed from Navy guest rooms will be returned.

Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) attorney Andrew Seidel filed a complaint stating, "Providing Bibles to guests in Navy-run hotels amounts to government endorsement of that religious text" and is, therefore, unconstitutional. 

The FFRF even complained that copies of the Book of Mormon or the Koran were not to be found in Navy lodgings.

NEXCOM issued a directive that the Bibles, donated by Gideons International at no taxpayer cost, were to be removed from 34 Navy Lodge locations and 24,000 Navy Gateway Inns and Suites guest rooms, according to The New American. 

FFRF spokesman Sam Grover said the group was "pleased" with the Navy's decision, but it triggered a roar of protest from people like Ron Crews, a retired military chaplain and executive director of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, who told The Washington Times, "A Bible in a hotel room is no more illegal than a chaplain in the military.

"It's tiresome to see senior military leaders needlessly cave in to activist groups offended by anything Christian." 

Mike Berry, director of military affairs at Liberty Institute, told The New American, "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."

Fox News quoted Navy spokesman Ryan Perry, who said, "In June 2014, NEXCOM made a decision, without consultation of senior Navy leadership, to transfer religious materials from the Navy Lodge to the local command religious program. That decision and our religious accommodation policies with regard to the placement of religious materials are under review."

The Air Force ran into a similar situation in 2012 when the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers wanted the Air Force to ban Bibles from Air Force guest lodging, but the Air Force allowed the Bibles to remain, according to The New American.

"This reversal proves that those who believe in religious freedom can make a difference when we take action," Tim Wildmon of the American Family Association said. "We must be alert to what the secularists are doing inside the military."

Crews told Fox News he has been deluged with calls from angry veterans and service personnel and believes the reversal took place because "people like these veterans rose up and said enough is enough."

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