Earlier this week, following a warning from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM), which runs more than 40 Navy Lodge hotels across the world, agreed to remove all the bibles from their rooms.
That didn’t mean bibles were banned — guests could always bring in their own copies or request one from the front desk. But the default setting of “let’s promote Christianity in Navy hotels” was finally turned off.
Or so we thought.
Today, the Navy announced to Stars and Stripes that the bibles would return to the hotels rooms — First Amendment be damned — at least for now:
“That decision and our religious accommodation policies with regard to the placement of religious materials are under review,” Navy spokesman Cmdr. Ryan Perry wrote in an email to Stars and Stripes. “While that review is under way, religious materials removed from Navy Lodge rooms will be returned.”
They may be acting on the advice of retired Chaplain Col. Ron Crews, executive director of Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, who was furious that FFRF had the bibles removed. The the Christian Post quoted him earlier today:
“A Bible in a hotel room is no more illegal than a chaplain in the military. They are there for those who want them“…
“There is nothing wrong with allowing the Gideons to place Bibles in Navy lodges, which it has done for decades at no cost to the Navy. Our service men and women are often away from home, sometimes for long periods of time. It’s perfectly constitutional and legal to allow the Gideons to provide, at their own expense, this source of comfort for service men and women of faith.“
Except it’s not constitutional unless other groups are allowed to place their own religious (or non-religious) literature in hotel rooms as well, and there’s no indication that any other group will receive that privilege. There’s just no good, legal reason to keep bibles, and only bibles, in the rooms.
And who wants to bet that Crews would be flipping out if copies of the Koran were found next to those bibles?
It’s sad that the Navy is dithering on this issue. There’s no telling how long this “review” will take, and the process to get in line with the law was already underway at several hotels. There was no reason to stop it.
(Image via Shutterstock)