Navy Investigating Inclusion of Bible on POW/MIA Table Following Complaint

OKINAWA — The U.S. Navy is reportedly conducting an investigation after an organization that seeks to separate the Messiah from the military filed a complaint about the presence of a Bible and a notation of America being “one nation under God” at a POW/MIA missing man table at a Naval hospital in Okinawa, Japan.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), led by Mikey Weinstein, recently submitted a complaint through New York-based attorney Donald Rehkopf Jr., requesting that both the Bible and the placard be removed. Weinstein states that 26 service members, including those who profess to be followers of Christ, are a part of the complaint.

“Why is that Bible there?” Weinstein remarked to the publication Stars and Stripes. “Can you imagine if somebody put a Quran there, or the book of Satan, or the Book of Mormon? It violates the [First Amendment’s Establishment Clause] as well as DoD and Navy regulations.”

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.

The Okinawa display includes a placard explaining the meaning of the items, and the above quote, written in both English and Japanese. Weinstein wants the wording removed.

“The statement on the exhibit’s placard is nothing more than an illegal, unconstitutional proselytization from an extremist, fundamentalist Christian sect,” the complaint, submitted by Rehkopf, reads. “It ignores all followers of other religions and totally ignores all those who subscribe to no religion—all in blatant violation of [Department of Defense] and [Department of the Navy] regulations.”

Weinstein initially contacted officials at the hospital to request that the Bible and placard be removed, but they declined to do so without the permission of the facility commander, who was away on assignment.

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Attorney Rehkopf then submitted the complaint to Rear Adm. Paul Pearigen, the commander of Navy Medicine West in California, who, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune, ordered an investigation into the matter on Friday. Weinstein says that if the Navy does not oblige the request, he will file a third-party inspector general complaint and possibly a lawsuit.

“Here, they translated a phrase into Japanese in order to proselytize the Japanese. This might have violated our treaty with Japan,” he asserted to the Union-Tribune.

In addition to requesting removal, Weinstein wants those responsible for including the Bible and the “one nation under God” wording to face disciplinary action.

As previously reported, Weinstein has a long history of objecting 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.

In 2015, 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.


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