Wednesday, August 24, 2016


Activist Seeks ‘Aggressive Punishment’ of Air Force Major Who Left Open Bible on Desk

SEE: below in full unedited for informational, educational, and research purposes:

COLORADO SPRINGS, Co. — The leader of a prominent activist organization that seeks to separate God from the military is asking that the Air Force “aggressively punish” a superior officer who has long displayed an open Bible on his desk.
According to reports, Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) recently sent a letter to Col. Damon Feltman, the commander of the 310th Space Wing at the Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, to issue a complaint about the Bible displayed by Maj. Steve Lewis, a supervisor at the Reserve National Security Space Institute.
“For years, [Lewis] has kept an open, yellow-highlighted Christian Bible displayed front and center, quite prominently, on his official USAF work desk in an open office work environment,” Weinstein said.
“The egregious constitutional and DoD regulatory violations of such a brazen display of sectarian Christian triumphalism and exceptionalism have been noted by many USAF members through the years,” he asserted, but none have expressed objection due to “fear of reprisal and retribution.”
Weinstein demanded that the Bible be moved out of sight, and kept to his own personal use.
“MRFF now demands that you order this Major Steve Lewis to immediately take down his Christian biblical display from his official USAF desktop,” he said. “It is fine, of course, if he wishes to keep his Christian Bible, replete with yellow-highlighted verses, in a desk or office drawer or even in a handy, nearby office bookcase but NOT open, yellow-highlighted and at the very epicenter of his USAF work desk for all of his helpless subordinates and many others to view continuously on a daily basis.”
Weinstein further requested that Lewis be investigated and “aggressively punished” for “poisoning” the environment at the institute with the biblical display.
“MRFF demands that … pending the results of the investigation, both he and his direct supervisor, Colonel Lisa Johnson, be swiftly, visibly and aggressively punished for allowing this long-running, repulsive violation of USAF regulations and bedrock Constitutional law to fatally poison the Command Climate in the RNSSI,” he wrote.
Following Weinstein’s letter, Lewis removed the Bible while the Air Force investigates the complaint.
“He has removed the Bible voluntarily because he didn’t want this to cause attention or disruption to his unit,” Feltman told conservative reporter Todd Starnes. “I’ve performed a walk-through of the office and everything seemed to be in compliance with Air Force regulation.”
He explained that he is waiting on the unit commander to review the situation, who will determine whether or not the presence of the Bible was inappropriate.
“As long as he’s not doing something excessive, the existence of a Bible or the Koran or the Torah or some other religious article is not prohibited,” Feltman said. “It’s what you do with it when you have it.”
“The 310th ‘Space’ Wing is NOT called the 310th ‘Space For My Personal Proselytizing Christian Bible Shrine’ Wing for a [expletive] good reason,” Weinstein said in a statement. “Major Steve Lewis has created an around-the-clock Christian Bible Shrine on his official USAF workstation desk that has been in prominent static display for YEARS.”
But some state that Air Force officials should ignore Weinstein as Lewis has done nothing wrong.
“I want to personally thank Major Steve Lewis for displaying his Bible replete with yellow highlighted verses, as I do all of the time. Major Lewis has a constitutional right to embrace his sincerely held theological convictions without anyone abridging his free exercise of religion,” Sonny Hernandez, an Air Force chaplain assigned to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, wrote in an article last week about the matter.
“His devotion to Scripture is evidence of being a Christian (Ps. 1), which is why it is important for the military to ensure that anti-God, anti-Christian hate groups do not subdue his rights that many soldiers, sailors, Marines, and Airmen have died defending,” he continued. “Supporters of religious liberty should be defending the Constitution, not denigrating Christians, which is why Weinstein should be ignored.”
“Mr. Weinstein’s legal affronts can easily stir emotions and cause foreboding, but this need not be,” Hernandez said. “[W]hen contacted by Weinstein, don’t act hastily; continue to protect the free exercise of religion for all your Airmen, and resist him—because once Weinstein is ignored, he will flee.”



Bibles Removed From College Hotel Following Complaint From Atheist Activist Group

republished below in full unedited for informational, educational, and research purposes:

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Officials at a public university in Arizona recently agreed to remove Gideon Bibles from the school’s hotel rooms following a complaint from a prominent professing atheist organization.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) sent a letter earlier this year to the CEO of the Thunderbird School of Global Management, which is part of Arizona State University. It said that an employee, who remained unidentified, had contacted FFRF to express their objection to the presence of the Bibles at Thunderbird Executive Inn.
FFRF also asserted that the Bibles violate the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution, which reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”
“If a state-run university has a policy of providing a Christian religious text to guests, that policy facilitates illegal endorsement of Christianity over other religions and over non-religion,” the letter, written by attorney Madeline Ziegler, read. “Permitting members of outside religious groups the privilege of placing their religious literature in public university guest rooms also constitutes state endorsement and advancement of religion.”
“Providing Bibles to inn guests sends the message that ASU endorses the religious texts,” it asserted. “It sends the message to non-Christian and non-religious guests that the university expects they should read the Bible, and specifically the version of the Bible provided; the Gideon Bible.”
The correspondence also contended that “[r]egardless of whether the Bibles were donated by a private party, the placement of a holy book in guest rooms for guests to read demonstrates government endorsement of a religious message.”
FFRF consequently requested that the Bibles be removed from Thunderbird Executive Inn.
On July 19, CEO Allen Morrison provided notice to FFRF that he had instructed staff to remove of the Gideon Bibles from rooms.
“I have … requested that religious materials be removed from the inn’s guest rooms,” he wrote in the brief correspondence. “I trust that resolves your concerns.”
FFRF, which announced the development on Tuesday, applauded the outcome.
“Anyone zealous enough to need the Bible as bedtime reading will travel with one,” said Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor in a statement. “The rest of us paying guests seek a vacation from proselytizing when we’re on vacation. What is offensive at private hotels and motels, however, becomes unconstitutional at public-supported rooms.”
As previously reported, FFRF has also convinced the Iowa State University, the University of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania State University, Portland State University and Northern Illinois University to remove Bibles from their guest rooms.
But the religious liberties group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) has asserted that FFRF’s contentions are in error.
“[B]y succumbing to FFRF’s demands, you may have exposed yourself … to potential liability. Presumably, your guest rooms include a variety of printed materials, including magazines, phone books, and information about the campus and guest facility,” it explained in a letter to officials at Iowa State University and the University of Wisconsin. “By removing the Bibles because they are religious, you may have engaged in viewpoint discrimination, which is ‘an egregious form of content discrimination’ and a ‘blatant’ violation of the First Amendment.”
Gideons International was founded in 1899 in Janesville, Wisconsin, and first began distributing Bibles in 1908.
“In view of the fact that almost all of the Gideons in the early years of the association were traveling men, the question quite naturally arose regarding how they might be more effective witnesses in the hotels where they spent so much of their time,” the organization explains of its history on its website. “One trustee went so far as to suggest that the Gideons furnish a Bible for each bedroom of the hotels in the United States.”
Gideons International now is active in 190 countries worldwide, and has printed Bibles in over 90 languages.
“Through God’s grace and to His glory, more than 1.9 billion Bibles and New Testaments have been placed through our association, and the work continues,” the group says.