A VA medical center in Manchester, New Hampshire, has a Bible displayed in the lobby. The Bible, carried by a World War II prisoner of war, is part of the facility’s display commemorating missing and imprisoned service members.
However, the Bible Display has not been accepted by some.
Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, stated that his group has filed a suit on behalf of James Chamberlain, a New Hampshire veteran, asking for the removal of the Bible. According to the suit, the Bible display is a violation of the Constitution’s prohibition of the government’s establishment of religion.
Weinstein stated: “That is stamping it with the approval of raising one faith over all the others. From our perspective, it’s a repugnant example of fundamentalist Christian triumphalism, exceptionalism, superiority, and domination, and it cannot stand.”
In the recent years, the group has successfully pushed for the removal of Bibles from displays at other VA and military facilities, including Cheyenne, Wyoming; Buffalo, New York; and Denver, Colorado.
The Manchester VA Medical Center initially complied with the group’s demand. After receiving a complaint in January about the Bible, the facility removed it. It was then placed in a plastic case and put back on the display table.
VA spokeswoman Kristin Pressly said in a statement: “Manchester VAMC officials temporarily removed the Bible from the display out of an abundance of caution. Following that removal, Manchester VAMC received an outpouring of complaints from Veterans and other stakeholders – many of whom dropped off Bibles at the facility – in protest of this action.”
Pressly stated that the facility consulted with lawyers, and then determined that the Bible would “remain indefinitely as part of the missing man display, a secular tribute to America’s POW/MIA community.”
“We apologize to the Veterans, families and other stakeholders who were offended by our incorrect removal of this Bible,” she added.
National VA spokesman Curt Cashour called the lawsuit "nothing more than an attempt to force VA into censoring a show of respect for America’s POW/MIA community."
"Make no mistake: VA will not be bullied on this issue," he added.
In addition to the suit, Weinstein stated that his group hired a plane to fly a banner reading “Honor all POW/MIA – Remove Bible,” over the medical center.
The suit describes Chamberlain as a former Air Force pilot and “devout Christian” who maintains that the Bible should be removed.
The suit is seeking a permanent injunction requiring the VA to remove the Bible and pay the attorney fees for the plaintiff.
Sources: USA Today