Air Force to remove requirement for hotel Bibles

In early February, a cockpit atheist in Kadena Airbase in Japan contacted MAAF to ask why there was a Bible posted in Air Force lodging. Because the Air Force is a government agency, there should be neutrality toward religion rather than a special privilege for Christianity. After inquiries from the Military Association of Atheists & Freethinkers and a legal review, Air Force Services Operations has promised to end their Bible requirement.

Is a Bible provided? – Air Force Lodging Accreditation Checklist

After hearing of the practice, MAAF contacted several lodging operations at major Air Force bases. All confirmed that they, too, had Bibles in their rooms. Lodging managers pointed to their checklist for “accreditation” as the reason the Bibles were in the rooms. It is standard practice for hotels, civilian and military, to have a checklist for the exact contents of a room. It is common practice for hotels to include the ubiquitous Gideon Bible. However, Air Force counsel has recognized that, while private companies may choose to privilege Christianity, Air Force leaders, including Air Force lodging managers, are Constitutionally-bound to avoid entanglement with religion. Including a Bible in every room is a privilege for Christianity.

A previous MAAF victory, removal of “Opus Dei” (latin for God’s Work) from an obscure Air Force procurement agency motto elicited outrage from no less than Congress itself, or at least the “Prayer Caucus”. Congressman Forbes, Founder of the Prayer Caucus” stated that the effort of MAAF “sets a dangerous precedent that all references to God, despite their context, must be removed from the military.” In truth, this “victory” was a minor bit of cleanup mentioned by MAAF in the context of an article about our primary mission of outreach and support. That message was lost on those trying to vilify MAAF.

Not to worry, Congressman, The Gideons can still place Bibles in designated areas like enlistment processing centers, alongside materials placed by MAAF. MAAF affirms the need for chaplains to provide religious services to those who ask. Service members can and should have their own beliefs represented on their gravesites, if they so choose.

Rep. Steve King recently spoke on the floor of the house against a new visitation policy at Walter Reed military hospital. King stirred up quite a controversy, claiming Bibles were banned. In reality, the policy prevented Christians from proselytizing defenseless patients at a government hospital. Walter Reed has not provided the policy after several requests from MAAF, but one hopes that the new policy allows patients to request and receive Bibles and religious materials from whatever private agencies will provide the materials while also protecting patients from uninvited proselytism by random visitors. (stay tuned)

The Forbes, King, and the Prayer Caucus has also pushed through two bills enshrining Christianity in government, including one promoting prayer at military memorials and one allowing for crosses at veterans memorials. MAAF protects the secular character of our government and free exercise for individuals while many promote the exclusionary and unconstitutional concept of a Christian Nation.

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  • Pete

    Why care if there is a Bible. An athiest belives its just words on paper. Perhaps having it there will help fellow service members, are you against giving them helpful resources? Hotels will provide books for other faiths also, all you have to do is ask the front desk. If they dont have one (they usually do) they WILL get one.

  • http://www.facebook.com/shawnjaustin Shawn J Austin

    I think groups like this are sad. They are so busy trying to protect THEIR rights with zero regards to everyone else’s. If you do not believe in God so be it but why do you have to go around making it hard for everyone else. I am sure you say you are sick and tired of having it crammed down your throat welllll my friends guess what you are no better with your little buddy in Japan that has now caused the Bibles to be pulled out of hotel’s it just shows you care about your own beliefs ONLY with no regard to anyone else’s. . This world is hard enough and if people can live and let live. If we all wish to live this fairy-tale as you call it so be it but our fairy-tale at least has a happy ending can you say your will?

  • Torch

    So now what, no Newspapers for the Freethinker? You’re free not to believe, so why trample on my right to believe? If you don’t want to read the Bible, read the Guestbook.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jasontorpy Jason Torpy

      Have a Bible all you want. Bring your own. Maybe the hotel will have one behind the desk that they received for free. Visitors can ask if they’d like additional reading material, Bible or otherwise. What Christians are asking for is the opportunity to have their personal beliefs distributed around the world in government facilities. Don’t confuse the right to worship with the right to have the government promote your personal beliefs.