The Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado, has removed an open Bible from the workstation of Major Steve Lewis while an investigation determines if the Bible contradicts separation of church and state, or is covered under religious freedom.
"The basic premise of the Air Force instruction [on religious freedom], grounded in Department of Defense policy, grounded in law is, people have an inherent right to free exercise of religion within boundaries," Colonel Damon Feltman told the Colorado Springs Independent.
"At the same time, people have freedom to be left alone," Feltman added. "It's finding that right balance. The challenge of the commander is to be sure both people are treated fairly."
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MMRF) wrote a letter about the open Bible to Feltman, notes the Friendly Atheist:
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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 but they have not sought to officially seek redress and remediation from this outrageous display of callous and bold Christian primacy from their respective USAF chains of command due to all-too-credible fears of reprisal and retribution from same…
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.
A Peterson military service person, who has requested anonymity, told the Colorado Springs Independent: "It certainly gives the appearance of favoritism toward one religion. I'm a Christian myself, and it's concerning. I don't think people should be promoted or given opportunities based on whatever [religion] they are. It should be about your performance."
Objections to the open Bible were mentioned in a survey of military personnel in 2015, but the Bible wasn't removed.
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That's because Feltman originally thought the Bible display complied with regulations, but the MRFF's letter prompted him to state: We're going to go back and look at that to see if we're in compliance and if not, we're going to take corrective action. If a person has a Koran display or book of Satan, they're free to have that on display and read it as long as they're not proselytizing, trying to entice someone to their particular viewpoint.