The Military Religious Freedom Foundation along with 26 families in Okinawa filed a complaint with the Office of Inspector General requesting the removal of the Bible on the POW/MIA table display at the U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa.
In addition to the removal of the Bible, the complaint also requests language about the Bible and the phrase “one nation under God” be eliminated from an accompanying explanatory placard, an investigation into how the book came to be displayed, who authorized it and “appropriate disciplinary measures administered to those responsible.”
The foundation’s complaint was answered by a refusal to remove the Bible citing it was “consistent with Department of the Navy and Department of Defense guidance, as well as the U.S. Constitution.”
Since the inception of the POW/MIA table display, a Bible has always been included to signify the “strength gained through faith to sustain us and those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God.” I applaud the leadership of Naval Hospital Okinawa for holding fast to traditions.
In our world today, it seems traditions are tossed aside the moment someone is offended by its existence with little consideration of the tradition’s origins, true meaning and the beliefs of those who honor them.
That being said, the Naval Hospital may be fighting a losing battle.
For years the Bible has been met with similar opposition resulting in the removal of the book from many displays throughout the United States. The Military Religious Freedom Foundation argues having the Bible as a part of the POW/MIA table display is a violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, which states the government is forbidden to make a law establishing a national religion and must avoid favoritism or the preference of one religion over another.
Rear Adm. Paul Pearigen, Navy Medicine West Commander was given a compromise by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and their attorney to include “holy books of other religions” in additional to the Bible in the display. At this time there has been no indication whether this option is being considered or has been rejected.
As a lifelong Christian when I first heard of this complaint, I thought “Really?! Atheists seem preoccupied with religion which is ironic since their beliefs are built on the idea that religion and God do not exist.”
After some reflection and time to consider my stance I realized that I have never experienced the rejection of exclusion or the sting of not being represented, so maybe this argument is more about acceptance and less about religion.
In my opinion, including holy books of other religions should be the action taken in this situation.
Over the years our nation has become increasingly divided. It seems people are no longer allowed to express opinions and beliefs without having to constantly defend them. Discussions about religion or politics are now all-out brawls. Disagreements become yelling matches in which people shout over each other, leaving everyone feeling unheard.
I truly believe all humans share the same hopes and dreams.
We all want to live in a country free of hatred and violence.
We all want to raise our children in safe environments where they can grow to become emphatic productive members of society.
We all want to make a reasonable wage which will allow us to provide the basic needs for our families.
We all want the ability to take our aging parents or sick children to receive quality medical care without going bankrupt in the process.
These hopes and dreams should unite us, not divide us.
As Americans, we all share the same basic goals. We just have different ideas on how to achieve them.
The next time someone expresses an opinion or belief contrary to your own, ask them to help you understand their position. This conversation will not change your mind but may provide insight into theirs.