Navy Brings Bibles Back; Removal Order Under Review
The U.S. Navy ordered on Thursday that Gideon Bibles, which were recently removed from Naval lodges, be returned to their rooms on the military bases.
The Navy said the decision to remove the Bibles was made without consulting senior leadership.
Their removal was reportedly part of a new policy from Rear Adm. Robert J. Bianchi, the CEO of NEXCOM, the Navy Exchange Service Command.
The Navy Exchange sent an order in June to the lodge managers stating that all the religious materials in the rooms should be removed using the lost-and-found property procedures.
The policy affects 34 Navy lodge locations and 24,000 Navy gateway guest rooms on Navy bases worldwide.
The American Family Association said the move came after a letter from the atheist Freedom from Religion Foundation.
The AFA cites a letter from a hotel housekeeper who said, "They told us to put them in boxes, where they would be taken to a donation center somewhere."
Ron Crews, director of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, called on the Navy to reverse its "censorship."
"A Bible in a hotel room is no more illegal than a chaplain in the military," Crews stated. "It's tiresome to see senior military leaders needlessly cave in to activist groups offended by anything Christian."
AFA President Tim Wildmon said this incident highlights another religious freedom issue. He thinks the Navy is discouraging Christianity while defending Islam.
"The Navy is pushing for the mass removal of Bibles in hotel rooms across the country, yet U.S. soldiers are being encouraged to respect Muslims," he said.
Earlier this summer, soldiers were told to respect the rights of Muslims during Ramadan through a directive at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, a Department of Defense medical and graduate school in Bethesda, Maryland.
"Where is the priority here in a country founded on religious freedom? Take Bibles out of hotel rooms but support an Islamic observance. This is a truest definition of a double standard," Wildmon said.