I posted last week about a controversial “Missing Man” table at the F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming. These are tables dedicated to prisoners of war or those missing in action and are fairly common at military bases. The problem here was that the table included a Bible, suggesting that POW/MIAs were only ever Christian and that atheists and people of other faiths didn’t make the same sacrifices as other soldiers.
You can read more details about the case here, but the short version is that the Military Religion Freedom Foundation raised concerns with the base’s commander, Col. Stacy J. Huser, and she agreed that this was a problem.
Huser said they would remove the Bible and replace it with a generic “book of faith” which was more like a blank journal representing all religions and no religion. That’s the right move, at least if something needs to be there.
A new article about the controversy was just posted at Religion News Service, and it includes comments from the conservative Christian group Family Research Council. The group’s senior fellow for regulatory affairs, Chris Gacek, wanted to argue that the Bible was perfectly fine… but check out how he did it:
“The commander made a big boo-boo when she substituted another book,” said Gacek. Creating the interfaith book could be seen as violating the First Amendment by demonstrating government bias in favoring one kind of religious content over another and establishing a preferred religion — or in this case, many religions.
So a book representing all religions (and none at all) would somehow be a violation of the Establishment Clause… yet the Bible by itself would be just fine.
That is some messed up #ChristianLogic right there.
Gacek wasn’t done making a fool of himself, though, because he also tried to gaslight everyone on American history:
Gacek… contended that America’s Founding Fathers understood “that a society with any hope of being well-ordered” is dependent on shared, religiously rooted values. “The U.S. was not founded by people who were atheists.”
Thomas Paine, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson were all Deists who rejected the notion that God played any role in our lives. (Jefferson famously cropped out all the miracles from his copy of the Bible because they were absurd.) If they weren’t atheists who adopted that label, keep in mind we still didn’t know anything about evolution, genes, DNA, etc. We didn’t have naturalistic explanations for how life came to be. They can be forgiven for letting God fill in that massive gap.
Many of the Founders who called themselves Christians would also never have been aligned with the sort of theocratic fantasy held by Religious Right groups today.
To pretend, though, that because our Founders were mostly nominally Christian (even when they rejected biblical teachings), we should mandate a Christian symbol on a military display is just bizarre.
These people don’t want religious neutrality. They want Christian supremacy. That’s why the military should ignore the whining coming from the FRC and the FOX News crowd and do the right thing.