DAYTON, Ohio — Following the removal of a Bible from a missing man table at an Ohio Air Force base due to the demands of a notorious church-state separation group, a military chaplain at the site is pushing back by distributing thousands of copies of the word of God to stationed airmen.
As previously reported, in April, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) wrote to officials at the Wright-Patterson Air Force base after the organization allegedly received more than 30 complaints about the Bible’s inclusion in the display. MRFF claims that 10 of those who complained identified as Christian.
According to the National League of POW/MIA Families, the Bible is traditionally present at missing man tables, and “represents the strength gained through faith to sustain us and those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God.” The display additionally includes a place setting, a rose and a candle.
But in its letter to the Wright-Patterson Air Force base, MRFF asserted that the table should be moved to the base chapel or that it should be more inclusive of other religions.
“This is simply an example where the Air Force should have a policy that makes it absolutely clear that nobody’s religious affiliation is on [exclusive] display,” President Mikey Weinstein told the Air Force Times.
Days later, the base chose to remove the Bible from the missing man table.
“We thoroughly assessed this particular situation and made the determination to remove the Bible,” Marie Vanover, spokesperson for Wright-Patterson, told reporters. “Mutual respect is an essential part of the Air Force culture and we must ensure we create an environment in which people can realize their highest potential, regardless of one’s personal religious or other beliefs.”
But U.S. Air Force Chaplain Sonny Hernandez, who serves at the base, decided to push back against MRFF’s efforts. Hernandez was named the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Individual Mobilization Accession Company Grade Officer of the Year in 2015, and also was recognized after organizing 70 volunteers to pack and distribute 450 meals for the homeless.
On June 4, Hernandez led a Bible distribution to airmen and civilians, which he outlined in a blog post entitled “Dear Military Religious Freedom Foundation: Remove One Bible, Thousands Will Take Its Place.”
“Mr. Weinstein does not contend with anyone who distributes material that references Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, leprechauns or fairies. Why? It is because none of them exist! Weinstein always contends with references of God because he knows God exists,” he wrote.
“Mr. Weinstein does not reject the truth of the Bible because it contradicts itself; instead, he rejects the Bible because it contradicts him, which is why he always tries to suppress the truth because he loves his sin,” Hernandez said.
He told Christian News Network this week that he has received much support from airmen at the base—a number of whom have expressed their desire to personally join the effort.
“I’ve actually been contacted by airmen at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base that are actually going to coalesce together, and they are involved now in distributing Bibles with me,” Hernandez stated. “I’ve had people call me and say, ‘Please get me boxes. I’ll fill my car up and I’ll make sure I distribute them as well.'”
“My goal now is to take thousands of Bibles there every month when I go to training,” he said.
Hernandez, who has sought to debate Weinstein on the topic of religious liberty, but did not receive a response, says that Christians should not be afraid of MRFF nor capitulate to its demands.
“If Mr. Weinstein and the MRFF try to interfere with legal intimidation,” he wrote in his blog post, “those who receive his demands will be reminded, ‘Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7).'”
As previously reported, Weinstein has a long history of expressing objection to Christian expression in the military. In 2013, he asked Department of Defense officials to punish superiors who attempted to proselytize their subordinates.
“It is a version of being spiritually raped and you are being spiritually raped by fundamentalist Christian religious predators,” Weinstein asserted.
He also appeared before Congress a year later, where he was questioned by Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) about his hostility toward Christianity.
“On June 16, 2013, you said, ‘Today we face incredibly well-funded gangs of fundamentalist Christian monsters who terrorize their fellow Americans by forcing their weaponized and twisted version of Christianity upon their helpless subordinates in our nations armed forces.’ Did you you make that quote?” Forbes asked.
“I did,” Weinstein replied frankly.
Last year, he wrote a blog post calling for the ousting of Christian chaplains who disagree with same-sex “marriage,” and also demanded that Satan, Allah Odin and others be added to a “God bless the military” display in Hawaii.
In December, Weinstein sought to stop the Colorado Air Force Academy football teams’s practice of praying together on the field before games, but his request was struck down by military officials.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed by Sonny Hernandez are solely his and do not necessarily represent the views of any government, military or religious organization.