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"We continue to ...weigh our multiple First Amendment practices and obligations."
Military atheists are increasingly making their voices heard. The Blaze has previously reported about the Rock Beyond Belief concert at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. Now, there is a situation developing in which non-believers in the military (and their supporters) are attacking a policy that has led to Bibles being placed in on-base lodging facilities.
According to WRWR, Air Force officials have agreed -- at least in principle -- to remove Bibles from rooms after being pressured by the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers (MAAF), an atheist group that is led by Jason Torpy. The MAAF's self-described goal is to combat "...insensitive practices that illegally promote religion over non-religion within the military or unethically discriminate against minority religions or differing beliefs."
The group apparently maintained that the presence of Bibles, which are placed in the rooms by Gideons, is "a special privilege for Christianity." While the Air Force has not demanded that the holy books be removed from inns, a revised checklist will take effect on October 1 (at the start of the 2013 fiscal year). The books, of course, will be removed from the required items.
A legal review, according to Air Force Services Agency Spokesman Michael Dickerson, found that there is "no requirement to have Bibles in the lodging checklist." According to WRWR, he also said, "We continue to review the situation and weigh our multiple First Amendment practices and obligations."
According to One News Now, Dr. Gordon Klingenschmitt, a former Navy chaplain and the head of The Pray In Jesus Name Project, is less than pleased with the military's decision. Rather than making a move to create a non-discriminatory environment, Klingenschmitt believes the Air Force is merely bowing to the demands of the MAAF, among other atheist groups.
"The Air Force is apparently complicit to this. I don't know if they're removing the Bibles, but at least they're removing [them] from the checklists, [the result being that] whoever cleans the rooms is no longer required to check whether the Bible is in place," he explained. "So if somebody steals one of those Bibles or if they're confiscated by atheist complainers or put in the trash, then sadly Christian people will not have access to read the Bible at night."
So, it seems the Air Force will be removing the requirementthat Bibles be placed in on-based rooms. Whether those who prepare these rooms will follow suite -- that is yet to be seen. Walter Reed National Military Medical Center also implemented more ardent restrictions -- then rescinded them -- months ago.
Should the Air Force remove the requirement that Bibles be placed in rooms? Take the poll:
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