The drama over Bibles in the military seems to be heating up, with church-state separatist groups setting their sights on ensuring that the holy book's influence -- and presence -- declines in the ranks.
The Blaze previously reported about the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers (MAAF) success in convincing the Air Force to remove Bibles from a required room-preparation checklist. Now, another group -- the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) -- is taking efforts further, calling select military Bibles a "threat to national security."
In what will surely raise eyebrows among those who have traditionally appreciated the military's often Christian undertones, officials have revoked approval for a series of military-themed Bibles. This action was purportedly taken, as Fox News Todd Starnes notes, over trademark issues (or rather: an overt decision to no longer allow the images to be utilized).
In addition to protesting the Bibles that have now been banned, the MRFF, according to Starnes, is now demanding that the remaining books be removed from base exchanges (stores). The group claims that the books, which have official branch insignias on them, pose a risk to U.S. national security.
Starnes has more about the Bibles and the controversy surrounding them:
The military series of Bibles were published by B&H Publishing, a division of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest non-Catholic denomination. They published four versions of the Holman Christian Standard Bible – representing the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.
The Bibles are tailored to each specific military branch. For example, the cover of the Marine version says “The Marines’ Bible” – along with the USMC emblem. The Bibles contain special prayers and devotional material for military personnel.
But the Military Religious Freedom Foundation complained that the Bibles were an official endorsement by the U.S. Military. They alleged the Bibles not only violated the U.S. Constitution, but also violated Defense Department regulations.
Now, the military will no longer allow for the use of official branch logos on these Bibles. While LifeWay initially secured the permission to use the insignias back in 2003, they were recently informed that they may no longer use them.
"We received notice last year from the various branches withdrawing authorization," a spokesman for LifeWay told Starnes. "After selling existing inventory of those bibles, B&H replaced the official seals with generic insignias which continue to sell well and provide spiritual guidance and comfort to those who serve."
The military is claiming that the revocation had nothing at all to do with religion, but the MRFF seems to indicate its belief that anti-theist advocacy is what led to the trademark change-of-heart.
"If their logos are being placed on a particular version of Christianity – particularly when we are engaged in a war with fundamentalist Muslims that are trying to view this as a cosmic war between Jesus and Allah – it’s a security threat," MRFF spokesperson Mikey Weinstein said of the Bibles. "It’s neither a problem, it’s not an issue or a challenge. It’s a national security threat."
As stated, in addition to protesting the emblems -- a problem that has now been solved -- the atheist group is also demanding that any remaining Bibles that have the insignias be immediately removed from being sold on military bases. Starnes explains:
According to a letter from the chief of the Air Force Trademark Licensing Program, the Air Force withdrew LifeWay’s authority to use their trademarks in 2011. The Air Force did allow LifeWay to deplete its existing stock through ongoing sales.
Weinstein said his organization had absolutely no problem with regular Bibles being sold at base stores, but he said the military-themed Bibles were in violation of the law.
“The Bible by itself is fine to be sold,” Weinstein told Fox News Radio. But he said they also want the remaining stock removed from base stores.
“Replace those Bibles with those that don’t have the emblems,” he said.
Currently, there are fewer than 1,000 of these Bibles on military exchange shelves across the country.
(H/T: Fox News)