By: Sam Dorman – FoxNews.com – May 30, 2019
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is calling the display ‘repugnant.’ The First Liberty Institute’s Mike Berry, who represents the group who donated the Bible, reacts.
Amid a nationwide controversy over religious displays in veterans’ facilities, the law firm First Liberty is asking Veterans Affairs (VA) to allow Bibles on all its prisoners of war and missing in action remembrance displays — overriding potential objections from facility directors.
“Our veterans — especially those who spent time captured or missing — deserve a uniform policy that allows Americans to honor and remember their service and sacrifice at all VA facilities,” the group’s letter, sent to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie on Wednesday, read.
If enacted, First Liberty argued, the policy would effectively settle a series of lawsuits surrounding those displays and relieve the government of having to defend these types of challenges to individual facilities.
“With the stroke of a pen, Secretary Wilkie can help put an end to senseless and wasteful lawsuits like the one in New Hampshire that the current policy allows,” First Liberty Institute’s Director of Military Affairs Mike Berry said.
Across the country, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) has challenged the inclusion of religious displays on First Amendment grounds. The group specifically advocates against what it perceives to be instances of individuals improperly using the government to promote their own religious beliefs.
In May, the MRFF sued over a POW/MIA memorial table which included a Bible at a VA facility in New Hampshire — an inclusion founder Mikey Weinstein called a “repugnant example of fundamentalist Christian triumphalism, exceptionalism, superiority, and domination.”
The VA responded by saying it wouldn’t allow the MRFF to bully it on this issue. “This lawsuit – backed by a group known for questionable practices and unsuccessful lawsuits – is nothing more than an attempt to force VA into censoring a show of respect for America’s POW/MIA community,” VA Press Secretary Curt Cashour previously told Fox News.
First Liberty, which represents the organization that donated that display, thanked the VA in its Wednesday letter but urged it to do more.
“While we are grateful and we commend the VA for its refusal to be bullied, we also encourage you to seize this opportunity to put an end to these incessant complaints and lawsuits,” the letter read.
“Although the inclusion of a Bible in a POW/MIA remembrance display is perfectly permissible under the U.S. Constitution, current VA policy guidance delegates the discretion to authorize such displays to individual VA facility directors.
“As a result, it is conceivable that some VA facilities will authorize POW/MIA remembrance displays that include Bibles, some will authorize POW/MIA remembrance displays that do not include Bibles, while others still might not authorize any displays at all.”
In an email to Fox News, the VA said it would respond directly to First Liberty. “VA appreciates this organization’s views and will respond to it directly,” the VA’s public affairs office said.
To see this article, click read more.