The Freedom From Religion Foundation needs your help to keep pressure on the Navy not to renege on its decision to remove Christian bibles from Navy-run lodges.
The Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM) issued a quiet directive on June 19 in response to a complaint by FFRF, ordering removal of religious material from Navy-run lodges by Sept. 1.
The American Family Association learned of the action and recently issued a noisy alert calling on the Navy to reverse course. Hysteria spread quickly.
By early this week, FFRF was inundated with requests for interviews on why the Navy’s preferential treatment of bibles is unconstitutional. In response, Staff Attorney Sam Grover went toe-to-toe with hostile religious news anchors and fanatical guests (including debating former Navy chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt yesterday — jump to 2:04:17 of the America’s Forum newscast).
Yesterday (Aug. 14), it was reported that the Navy had temporarily caved and ordered the return of the bibles to hotel rooms while it reviewed its policy. Theocrats are loudly declaring victory in an effort to silence the objections of the nonreligious.
The Religious Right has orchestrated a media frenzy to intimidate the Navy into maintaining its illegal policy of providing bibles in all Navy-run hotel rooms. FFRF needs your help now to give the Navy some backbone. The Navy needs to hear from the one in five who are nonreligious and those who honor the constitutional wall of separation between state and church. (Read more about the background or scroll down for contact information and talking points.)
Two concerned service members separately contacted FFRF earlier this year to report finding Christian bibles in every Navy-operated hotel room in which they had stayed during decades of service. Over 24% of FFRF’s members are active duty military or veterans and over 23% of military personnel identify as atheists, agnostics, or have no religious affiliation. FFRF sent a letter on March 12, 2014 to NEXCOM noting that placement of bibles in all such lodging shows unlawful favoritism to Christianity over all other religions and to religion over nonreligion.
The Navy has a constitutional obligation to remain neutral toward religion. By countenancing the placement of bibles in Navy-run lodges, the Navy is sending the impermissible message that military personnel are expected to be Christian, thus turning atheists and agnostics into outsiders.
FFRF has long advocated that nonreligious consumers ask for “bible-free rooms” at private motels and hotels because we shouldn’t have to pay high prices to be proselytized in the privacy of our own hotel or motel room. FFRF’s bible warning labels remain popular with freethinking travelers who so frequently encounter in their bedside table a so-called "holy book" which glorifies violence and discrimination against nonbelievers, women, gays and children. While private hotels may choose to succumb to the lobbying of The Gideon Society, the U.S. government has an obligation to ensure secular accommodations that do not give the appearance of governmental endorsement of religion.
Please immediately voice your support for the Navy’s decision, to counter action alerts by the Christian Right against this decision:
Be sure to identify any relationship you may have with the Navy or military. Use your own words or feel free to copy any part of the message text below:
Dear Director Bockelman,
[I am an active member/veteran of the U.S. military / a family member of a U.S. military service member and] I am writing to thank you for your correct decision to remove Christian bibles from all Navy Lodge guest rooms. As an atheist/nonbeliever, I’m part of the one in five U.S. adult citizens who is nonreligious — the fastest growing segment of the population by religious identification. I’m deeply offended when I go into a hotel room and find a bible there, which sends a message that I need to be converted or am somehow the “wrong” religion. Today nonbelievers make up about a quarter of active military personnel. So I know how “atheists in foxholes” would feel in encountering someone else’s “holy book” in what should be secular military accommodations. Military service is, in part, about defending the secular constitutional principles on which this country was founded. The separation between government and religion is one of those key principles that has allowed our country to thrive. Thank you for ensuring secular accommodations, which guarantees that some military personnel are not made to feel like “outsiders” because they are non-Christians or nonbelievers. Thank you for showing me that the Navy is willing to stand by that principle, not because it is a politically popular thing to do, but because it is the only appropriate course of action.