By Tony Perkins
There wasn’t room at the inn for Jesus — and now there isn’t room at the Navy’s Lodges either! After a string of good news on the religious liberty front, the Navy seems to be falling back into the military’s bad habits on anti-faith censorship. Despite a longtime partnership with the Gideons, the director of the Navy Lodge program is tossing the nightstand Bibles, explaining that the giveaways will now be at the commanders’ discretion.
The directive, which was signed back in mid-June, started taking effect recently, as housekeepers and other sailors were instructed to purge the lodges of the free Bibles. At least two employees — one Lodge worker and an active duty serviceman — contacted our friends at AFA and Fox News to blow the whistle on the change. “We were told today… that due to a new policy by the CEO of NEXCOM, Rear Admiral Robert Bianchi, we were to remove the Bibles from the rooms,” a housekeeper said. “They told us to put them in boxes, where they would be taken to a donation center somewhere.”
The actual memo, signed by the facilities’ managers, made it clear that the Navy doesn’t “require or solicit religious items (e.g. Bibles) for its guest rooms.” “Over the years,” it continues, “organizations such as the Gideons International have offered to place Bibles in the guest room; and local management historically allowed them to be placed in Navy Lodge rooms. Some Navy Lodges have Bibles in guest rooms and some do not. To ensure a consistent policy, the Navy Lodge General Manager will refer all inquiries about placing religious materials, including Bibles, to the Chaplain’s Office for the military installation where the Navy Lodge is located.”
But instead of referring inquiries, at least 40 Lodges are just pitching the Bibles altogether. “We looked at our policy,” a NEXCOM spokeswoman told Todd Starnes, “and realized there wasn’t a consistent policy regarding Navy Lodges. We decided we needed to have some consistency.” Unfortunately, that “consistency” didn’t include a commitment to the longstanding tradition of making the Bibles available — or an acknowledgement of the important role faith plays in the military.
And it’s a prominent role — one that goes all the way back to President Franklin Roosevelt, who not only condoned the practice of Scripture reading, but wrote the introduction to the Armed Forces’ own Gideon Bibles, given to every soldier during World War II. Innkeepers are supposed to cater to the desires of the guests, many of whom probably use the Gideons’ copy. If Freedom From Religion Foundation doesn’t like the Bible, leave it in the drawer!
Late last week, the Pentagon defended the National Guard in Missouri for allowing these same Bibles to be distributed to new recruits. It’s time those same leaders came to the defense of the Gideons’ partnership with Navy hotels — otherwise, the only thing guests will be lodging is complaints. Register yours by calling 757-631-3600 or 757-502-7496 and ask Rear Admiral Robert Bianchi and Michael Bockelman to reinstate the Bibles in Navy Lodges!
Also, if you’re wondering about the downside of pulling the Bible from the military is, look no further than our public schools. Tune in tomorrow, Wednesday, August 13 at noon (ET), for an FRC lecture about the heavy price society has paid for removing God from classrooms. Don’t miss “Putting the Bible and Prayer Back in Public Schools” with Dr. William Jeynes. Click here for more information.
Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law.
(Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.