A copy of the Holy Bible and an accompanying verse have been removed from the prisoners of war (POWs) and missing in action (MIA) display inside an Ohio Veteran's Administration clinic after the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) filed a complaint against it.
The display was part of a "Missing Man Table" recently erected by volunteers at an outpatient clinic in Akron, according to Fox News.
When MRFF founder Mikey Weinstein saw it, he claimed that the inclusion of the Bible was in violation of the U.S. Constitution. He also claimed that he was intervening only in behalf of about a dozen, mostly Christian, military veterans who use the clinic.
But as far as clinic administrator Brian Reinhart is concerned, no one who uses the clinic has ever complained about the display until Weinstein said so. In order to avoid stirring up any trouble, he decided to just remove the Bible from the display.
"I just wanted to let you know that the Bible has been removed from our POW table and the Bible verse has been removed from the framed scripture," Reinhart wrote in an email to Weinstein.
Weinstein lauded Reinhart for his quick decision. He wrote in a statement, "MRFF's veteran client soldiers and we at the MRFF as well, applaud this VA Clinic Administrator's sage wisdom and courage in recognising that the U.S. military is comprised of hundreds if not thousands of diverse faiths as well as no faiths."
"We heartily commend his taking decisive and swift action to remedy the situation so that the MIA/POW table truly honours all," he added.
Meanwhile, Reinhart said he alone was responsible for the removal of the Bible from the display. "In discussing it with the volunteers, we thought as though it was the best course of action since several veterans did express concerns regarding it," he said.
Weinstein might have praised Reinhart for his "wisdom and courage," but Ron Crews, the executive director of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, does not agree.
"MIA/POW tables have been part of military tradition for generations," said Crews. "They have always included certain elements including a Bible."
"It is a sad day when the Veteran's Administration caves to one narrow view of the proper way to honour the courage and sacrifice of those who have dedicated their lives in service of their country," he continued. "Many have died to protect the right of Americans to have and read the Bible. Surely we can honour their sacrifice by allowing a Bible at their table of remembrance."