As we learned a couple of weeks ago, the U.S. Naval Hospital in Okinawa, Japan now has a “Missing Man” table dedicated to prisoners of war or those missing in action. That’s perfectly fine, but this particular table included a Bible, suggesting that POW/MIAs were only Christian and that atheists and people of other faiths didn’t make the same sacrifices as other soldiers.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation’s founder and president Mikey Weinstein (on behalf of more than two dozen mostly Christian clients) sent a letter to Rear Admiral Paul D. Pearigen saying this Bible had to go.
Pearigen has now responded, and he says the table and the Bible are staying put.
When depicted with the other eight ceremonial items, the book is not the focal point of the table. As one of nine symbolic references on the table, the purpose of the book and accompanying description is not to promote religion, but to commemorate the strength and resolve required of POWs and MIA personnel in the most difficult of times… In light of the forgoing, neither further review nor an investigation of this matter is necessary.
Weinstein said MRFF’s legal counsel would be responding to that letter soon, but that didn’t stop him from reacting to it:
[MRFF] rejects entirely and effusively condemns the embarrassingly imbecilic decision of Rear Admiral Pearigen to refuse to remove the unconstitutional placement of the Christian Bible from the POW/MIA display at the U.S. Naval Hospital on Okinawa.
… that Christian Bible stands out like a tarantula on a wedding cake. It is not somehow camouflaged or invisible because there are 8 other items (one of which is the script with the religious language) on that POW/MIA table. In fact, this Christian Bible is one of the largest items on the table — well over double the size of even the American flag!
Weinstein said more about the history of these tables and how they’ve successfully removed bibles in other cases. So if Pearigen won’t do it, they’ll make use of other means. MRFF will soon file an official complaint with the Department of Defense Inspector General.