CHEYENNE, Wy. — A commander at an Air Force base in Wyoming has decided to replace a Bible on a “missing man” table meant to honor prisoners of war and soldiers missing in action with a “generic book of faith” filled with blank pages following receipt of a complaint lodged by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF).
According to a post on the MRFF website, 31 individuals at the F.E. Warren Air Force Base contacted the organization in May to complain about the inclusion of the Bible on the POW/MIA table, set up in the dining facility.
MRFF asserts that more than half (19) of the complainants identify themselves as Protestants or Catholics, with the remaining being Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, atheist, humanist, deist or agnostic.
As previously reported, 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.
President Mikey Weinstein consequently wrote to leadership at F.E. Warren Air Force Base and soon received correspondence from Col. Stacy Jo Huser, commander of the 90th Missile Wing of the Air Force Global Strike Command, who advised that she would look into the matter.
After not receiving an update for many weeks, Weinstein wrote again to the base this month, stating, “Our MRFF clients under Col. Huser’s command remain resolute in their most fervent objection to this blatant display of fundamentalist Christian supremacy, domination and exceptionalism.”
In a follow-up to a subsequent telephone conversation with Weinstein, Huser soon advised that the chaplains at F.E. Warren Air Force Base would be ordering a “generic book of faith” to replace the Bible. She said that the chaplains were instructed to switch out the Bible with a rotation of various religious texts in the meantime.
“Our chaplains are purchasing a generic ‘book of faith’ on Thursday and will let me know when that book is expected to arrive. Until it arrives, I’ve asked them to rotate the book placed on the table (rotate it through various faiths),” Huser wrote. “Yesterday, they placed the Book of Mormon on the table. I will contact you again when our permanent ‘book of faith’ is on display.”
When Weinstein inquired about what Huser meant by a “generic book of faith,” stating that he was “concerned that it might still be slanted towards the majority faith in this country—Christianity,” she explained that it would be like a “journal with blank pages” so that “we aren’t emphasizing a particular faith, or any religion at all.”
MRFF has applauded the outcome of the situation, and is touting that it has succeeded in having the Bible removed from eight POW/MIA tables to date, including in Akron, Ohio; Houston, Texas; Denver, Colorado and Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania. Weinstein also recently wrote to officials with the Veterans Medical Center in Buffalo, New York, and was advised that the Bible had already been removed.
As previously reported, Weinstein has a long history of objecting to the promotion of Christianity 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 nation’s 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.
However, in an order to the U.S. military, then-General George Washington wrote on July 9, 1776, “The blessing and protection of Heaven are at all times necessary, but especially so in times of public distress and danger. The general hopes and trusts, that every officer, and man, will endeavor so to live, and act, as becomes a Christian soldier defending the dearest rights and liberties of his country.”
Read Washington’s order in full here in the National Archives.