Two organizations dedicated to military personnel are locked in conflict over a Bible display dedicated to POWs and service members missing in action.
The Manchester Veterans Affairs Medical Center in New Hampshire featured the Bible, which belonged to a prisoner of war in WWII, as part of a memorial called The Missing Man Table. The medical center removed the Bible in response to a complaint from Military Religious Freedom Foundation claiming that it constituted government preference of one religion over another, but the bible’s new placement in a nearby display case angered the organization even more. (RELATED: Navy Investigates Complaints Of Christian Evangelization In Military Hospital)
“That is still a Christian Bible. It is still promoting — particularly in the surrounding aspect of the POW-MIA remembrance, one of the most sacred things you could do in the military — one faith over another faith,” organization spokesman Mikey Weinstein told WMUR9.
A concerned veteran of the Manchester VA Medical Center reported to FFRF that the center’s “missing man” table display honoring POW/MIA soldiers included a bible. FFRF took action to ensure that non-Christian service members were being equally honored. https://t.co/OSicvjUl9J pic.twitter.com/LkAzhDCje9
— FFRF (@FFRF) February 27, 2019
Paul Martin of The Northeast POW-MIA Network, which constructed The Missing Man Table in 2018, countered that the Bible is a historic artifact symbolic of the WWII POW’s strength of faith and hope that he would return home. Martin said the Bible is not a government establishment of religion and that his organization hopes to return it to the memorial display under a protective casing to prevent damage and theft.
“That Bible is not just a religious artifact. That some people would say they’re stuffing religion down my throat. What it means is this guy held on to a lot of faith and hope, family and trust in this nation that they would do everything they possibly could to bring him home,” Martin said.