ST. LOUIS – A prominent humanist organization sent a letter earlier this week to the Missouri National Guard, demanding that ‘immediate action’ be taken to remove a display of Bibles from a military base.
The American Humanist Association (AHA) is a group committed to promoting the so-called “humanist worldview.” According to the organization’s website, AHA “strive[s] to bring about a progressive society where being good without a god is an accepted and respected way to live life.”
On Monday, AHA attorney Monica Miller sent a 9-page letter to the Missouri National Guard, demanding that the guard immediately remove a display of Bibles from the guard’s General Services Administration building in St. Louis. The letter argues that the Bibles’ presence in the government building “represents a clear breach of the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution.”
“The machinery of the U.S. military … is being used to distribute Bibles,” the letter claims. “ … The religious endorsement is particularly egregious in this case because unlike in many of the school cases where private citizens distributed the Bibles, the government is the entity distributing the Bibles here.”
Evidently, the Bible stand is sponsored by Gideons International—a Christian ministry committed to providing Bibles to people around the world. For over 100 years, the Gideons have distributed free Bibles in hotels, schools, prisons, and many government buildings. The ministry places a special emphasis on making Bibles available to military personnel, saying “there’s something especially urgent about giving God’s word to the men and women in the Armed Forces.”
However, AHA insists that the Scriptures must be removed from Missouri National Guard property.
“Numerous cases have ruled that when the government offers biblical literature, even if done indirectly, it is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion,” Miller said in a statement.
According to reports, the Bibles on the base are not handed or distributed to the military personnel—they are simply available to read if someone chooses to do so. Nevertheless, AHA believes the Bibles’ presence on the base is illegal.
“Throughout the recruitment process, soldiers endure stressful conditions, making them susceptible to the pressures of conformity,” AHA executive director Roy Speckhardt asserted. “The U.S. Armed Forces should respect the belief or nonbelief of all recruits and should not pressure them to support a particular religion.”
In the AHA letter, Miller warns of possible legal action if the Missouri National Guard does not remove the Gideons Bibles right away.
“This letter demands that the government immediately cease this practice and remove the Bibles from its possession,” Miller wrote. “To avoid legal action, I kindly ask that you notify me in writing within two weeks of receipt of this letter setting forth the steps you will take to rectify this serious constitutional infringement.”
Despite AHA’s threats, many believe that the Bible stand is legal.
“The Founders never contemplated that any mention of God would be prohibited in the public square,” one commenter reasoned. “Just because atheists are offended at the mere mention of God doesn’t give them the right to force believers to keep silent.”
“There is no obligation to take a Bible that is placed there by a non-government entity,” another wrote. “Therefore the atheist group does not have a valid reason to protest.”
As previously reported, atheists and humanists have objected to Gideons Bibles on multiple occasions. In the past two years alone, the Gideons have faced opposition in South Dakota, Kentucky, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and British Columbia.