A U.S. Air Force chaplain will continue to distribute Bibles at a military base despite complaint and legal threats from a group that is pushing the separation of church and state.
The Wright-Patterson Air Force base in Ohio previously removed a Bible from a missing man table after the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) filed a complaint, saying that nobody's religious affiliation should be on display.
The missing man table is set at military dining facilities to honour prisoners of war or those missing in action.
Eventually the Bible was removed by the Air Force base.
"We thoroughly assessed this particular situation and made the determination to remove the Bible," said Marie Vanover, a spokeswoman for the base, according to the Air Force Times. "Mutual respect is an essential part of the Air Force culture and we must ensure we create an environment in which people can realise their highest potential, regardless of one's personal religious or other beliefs."
This didn't sit well with U.S Air Force Chaplain Sonny Hernandez, who started distributing copies of the Bible on June 4 in the base "to support the religious needs of the Airmen and civilians throughout the base."
"This was also an evangelistic endeavour I led to exercise my faith. The Constitution protects the rights of Airmen at Wright Patterson to receive support for their spiritual needs, and it supports my First Amendment rights, without government interferences and censorship, to exercise the irreducible tenets of my faith," he wrote on the God and Country blog.
He vowed to ensure "that Bibles are interminably distributed and exhorting other Christians to do the same."
Hernandez said MRFF leader Michael Weinstein "is a self-described defender of religious liberty who has conspicuously targeted conservative Christians, which contravenes the Constitution that he professes to safeguard."
He said Weinstein "hates conservative, Bible-believing Christians and makes legal threats to intimidate senior military leaders," adding that the MRFF leader "should not be taken seriously."
Hernandez vowed that every month, he will ensure Bibles are distributed and will place the banner of Jesus Christ at the base.
"Mr. Weinstein may remove one Bible from WPAFB, but thousands will take its place," he said.