The Military Religious Freedom Foundation filed a complaint on April 5th over a Bible and other religious language on a display table at the Naval Hospital in Okinawa, Japan. At issue is a POW/MIA display table in a public portion of the hospital. The table includes a Bible and a placard written in both Japanese and English. One portion of the placard reads, “The Bible represents the strength gained through faith to sustain those lost from our country, founded one nation under God.”
The foundation, based in New Mexico, filed the complaint on behalf of twenty-six of their members who are stationed in Okinawa. They expressed concern over the inclusion of the Bible in the “command-endorsed” display because it is, “endorsing Christianity (versus other major religions or non-religious beliefs) as expressed in the Christian Bible to the total exclusion of any other belief systems or non-belief traditions.”
In addition, the complaint summarizes the foundation’s issue with the placard, saying, “Anyone with a modicum knowledge of American history should know that this is false – the very purpose of the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment was to make it clear, to any and all, that the United States was conceived as religiously neutral, viz., that there was absolutely no religious component to our Founding. Nowhere in our Constitution does the word “God” appear even once.”
The vice chairman of the National League of POW/MIA Families, Mark Stevenson, says the fault is with the complainants rather than the display. He told Religion News Service, “The POWs held in Hanoi vehemently turned to God for comfort and safety and persistence… I don’t see where the harm is. If somebody’s going to take offense to it, they’re making a conscious effort to be offended.”
The complaint outlined three actions the group would like for the Rear Admiral in charge of the hospital to take. They want the Bible removed from the display, the language removed from the placard, and an independent investigation to be launched to determine who was ultimately responsible for the display. In addition, they want “appropriate disciplinary measures administered to those responsible.”
In response to the complaint, Real Admiral Paul Pearigan ordered an investigation.
Photo courtesy: ©Thinkstock/Enterline-Design-Services-LLC
Publication date: April 10, 2018