PHOENIX — The U.S. Army has ordered the removal of a sandwich board outside of an Arizona recruiting office because it included the phrase “On a mission for God and country.”
The sign, which has been posted outside of the recruiting office since at least last October, was removed on Friday following complaints. A photo of the sandwich board had been proliferated online, drawing ire from atheists and church-state separation advocates.
The most vocal opponent to the sign was Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. The Daily Kos had published an article by Weinstein, who decried the sign as being a “painfully pathetic poster,” a “stunning unconstitutional disgrace” and a “poster of shame.”
“Long story short, the poster at the Phoenix armed forces recruitment hub is an absolutely abominable slap in the face of everyone who’s ever taken the time to digest, understand, and swear the service members’ sacred oath to protect and defend the United States Constitution, let alone those who made the ultimate sacrifice for the values, rights, and protections contained therein,” he wrote.
Weinstein, who stated in the article that he is on an “aggressive fight against fundamentalist Christian extremism,” is believed to be influential in the removal of the sign, although the Army Times said that the sandwich board was removed just hours after it called superiors to ask about the display.
Army Recruiting Command spokesman Brian Lepley told the publication that the local recruiting office had made and erected the sign without prior approval, and although it used a permissible image of a special forces patch for the background, the text posed a problem.
“Had the process been followed, the copy shown would not have been approved,” Lepley said.
Now the Army is investigating who is responsible for ordering the customized sandwich board, which originally would have come with the slogan, “We don’t call for reinforcements. We make them.”
“[W]hoever, in any way, shape or form, allowed that poster to be designed, prepared and displayed, those individuals should be aggressively investigated and very visibly punished,” Weinstein told reporters.
But while some were concerned about the display of the sign, others are now even more concerned about its removal.
“[Saying that] ‘On a mission for both God and Country,’ is unconstitutional is an outright lie,” asserted writer Terresa Monroe-Hamilton. “There is absolutely nothing unconstitutional about it.”
“The saying has been around forever, and during battle, the military has always turned to God for comfort and for guidance,” she continued. “Now, the American military leadership and Obama’s administration have turned from God in a stark manner and God is likely to do the same in return. … May God have mercy on our country.”
According to reports, after Navy Seals carried out their mission to execute Osama Bin Laden four years ago, they radioed in the code, “For God and country—Geronimo, Geronimo, Geronimo.” Barack Obama was also gifted with a signed flag following the return of the men, which read, “From the Joint Task Force Operation Neptune’s Spear, 01 May 2011: For God and country. Geronimo.”
Photo: Military Religious Freedom Foundation