COLORADO SPRINGS, Co. — The leader of a prominent activist organization that seeks to separate God from the military is asking that the Air Force “aggressively punish” a superior officer who has long displayed an open Bible on his desk.
According to reports, Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) recently sent a letter to Col. Damon Feltman, the commander of the 310th Space Wing at the Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, to issue a complaint about the Bible displayed by Maj. Steve Lewis, a supervisor at the Reserve National Security Space Institute.
“For years, [Lewis] has kept an open, yellow-highlighted Christian Bible displayed front and center, quite prominently, on his official USAF work desk in an open office work environment,” Weinstein said.
“The egregious constitutional and DoD regulatory violations of such a brazen display of sectarian Christian triumphalism and exceptionalism have been noted by many USAF members through the years,” he asserted, but none have expressed objection due to “fear of reprisal and retribution.”
Weinstein demanded that the Bible be moved out of sight, and kept to his own personal use.
“MRFF now demands that you order this Major Steve Lewis to immediately take down his Christian biblical display
from his official USAF desktop,” he said. “It is fine, of course, if he wishes to keep his Christian Bible, replete with yellow-highlighted verses, in a desk or office drawer or even in a handy, nearby office bookcase but NOT open, yellow-highlighted and at the very epicenter of his USAF work desk for all of his helpless subordinates and many others to view continuously on a daily basis.”
Weinstein further requested that Lewis be investigated and “aggressively punished” for “poisoning” the environment at the institute with the biblical display.
“MRFF demands that … pending the results of the investigation, both he and his direct supervisor, Colonel Lisa Johnson, be swiftly, visibly and aggressively punished for allowing this long-running, repulsive violation of USAF regulations and bedrock Constitutional law to fatally poison the Command Climate in the RNSSI,” he wrote.
Following Weinstein’s letter, Lewis removed the Bible while the Air Force investigates the complaint.
“He has removed the Bible voluntarily because he didn’t want this to cause attention or disruption to his unit,” Feltman told conservative reporter Todd Starnes. “I’ve performed a walk-through of the office and everything seemed to be in compliance with Air Force regulation.”
He explained that he is waiting on the unit commander to review the situation, who will determine whether or not the presence of the Bible was inappropriate.
“As long as he’s not doing something excessive, the existence of a Bible or the Koran or the Torah or some other religious article is not prohibited,” Feltman said. “It’s what you do with it when you have it.”
“The 310th ‘Space’ Wing is NOT called the 310th ‘Space For My Personal Proselytizing Christian Bible Shrine’ Wing for a [expletive] good reason,” Weinstein said in a statement. “Major Steve Lewis has created an around-the-clock Christian Bible Shrine on his official USAF workstation desk that has been in prominent static display for YEARS.”
But some state that Air Force officials should ignore Weinstein as Lewis has done nothing wrong.
“I want to personally thank Major Steve Lewis for displaying his Bible replete with yellow highlighted verses, as I do all of the time. Major Lewis has a constitutional right to embrace his sincerely held theological convictions without anyone abridging his free exercise of religion,” Sonny Hernandez, an Air Force chaplain assigned to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, wrote in an article last week about the matter.
“His devotion to Scripture is evidence of being a Christian (Ps. 1), which is why it is important for the military to ensure that anti-God, anti-Christian hate groups do not subdue his rights that many soldiers, sailors, Marines, and Airmen have died defending,” he continued. “Supporters of religious liberty should be defending the Constitution, not denigrating Christians, which is why Weinstein should be ignored.”
“Mr. Weinstein’s legal affronts can easily stir emotions and cause foreboding, but this need not be,” Hernandez said. “[W]hen contacted by Weinstein, don’t act hastily; continue to protect the free exercise of religion for all your Airmen, and resist him—because once Weinstein is ignored, he will flee.”
Editor’s Note: Hernandez’ opinions are solely his and do not necessarily represent the views of any government, military or religious organization.