The Air Force’s new policy about hotel Bibles

The Blaze reports on the US Air Force’s new policy regarding Bibles and on-base lodging facilities. Essentially, starting this October, it will no longer be a requirement that each room at an on-base lodging facility has a Bible.

It is unclear whether the existing Bibles will be removed by that day, or if the only removal is from the checklist and thus housekeeping is longer legally required to check that the Bible is in the room and usable.

The Blaze links to a news story from WRWR with more information.

The response followed a protest from the Military Association of
Atheists and Freethinkers who push, according to the [Air Force Association], to “free the U.S. military of policies that it purports promote religion.”

The group claimed that placement of Bibles in on-base rooms was “a special privilege for Christianity.” Bibles are placed in on-base lodging by the Gideons.

I agree in principle with what the MAAF is trying to accomplish here. If the Gideons wish to provide Bibles for those who want them, I am okay with it, however I also believe those of other faiths should have the same opportunities to make their holy books available. Yes, this would include the Quran or any other holy book which is roughly on par with the Bible in another faith, and it would also extend to other versions of the Bible (such as the Canon of Trent, better known as the Catholic Bible).

I am sensitive to those who may find it offensive that a Bible is in the room unsolicited. I am not a Christian myself, nor am I an Atheist, however it does fly a bit in the face of “freedom of religion” to twist that around and allow an action which in effect say “freedom to practice Christianity” (or, put another way, “freedom to practice the same religion we do”). Giving the Gideons preference by allowing placement of the Bible in each room, and not allowing other groups a similar privilege, seems to fall more under the latter headings than the former.

However, I have a clear and direct message to the Atheists who would dump the Bibles in the trash: Don’t you dare! Respect and tolerance goes both ways, and it is already difficult enough for non-Christians (in general) to get and keep the respect of Christians, particularly those Christians who feel it their duty to “convert” others. (And yes, in a past time, prior to my enlightenment, I was one of those Christians too.) I promote respect and tolerance between those of all faiths. Even if you personally believe the Bible is a work of fiction, it deserves to be treated with respect. Disrespecting the Bible makes it harder for us all to get respect in the long term.

Alice Cooper: Too hot for Tampere

Paul Cashmere writing for reports on a rather icy welcome received by Alice Cooper. Apparently, the act is not welcomed in Tampere, Finland, as he is barred from performing at Tampere Areena Oy per a statement issued by the managing director, Harri Wiherkoski, which states in part “Artists who express suspicious values from Christianity’s point of view cannot be allowed to perform at the venue.”

Not to be outdone, Alice Cooper management has invited fans of the act to come to Helsinki which, it would seem, is outside of Finland’s version of the Bible Belt. Quoting from the article:

In response, Alice Cooper management said “We hope fans from Tampere denied access to these ‘suspicious values’ can come to Helsinki and make their own judgment. What’s really ‘suspicious’ to us is the act of judging something that one has never seen, heard or, otherwise, experienced. There’s nothing like an open mind and, clearly, Mr. Wiherkoski has nothing like one.”

Some rather harsh words for Mr. Wiherkoski. But it is my firm belief that he deserves them. If Alice Cooper was booked at a church, I could see the logic behind the restrictions on “suspicious values.” Culturally literate people know what Alice Cooper is about, and can see far above and beyond attempts to unjustly paint the concert as a thinly-veiled demon worship session. Unfortunately, it seems cultural literacy is lacking in Tampere. Based on what I’ve read, I think when I go to Finland, that’s a city I’d rather avoid.

Flyover denied

An Idaho TV station, KTVB-TV, recently reported on an incident involving a local festival which usually involves a military flyover, but did not this year due to the Pentagon’s refusal of the request. The Treasure Valley God and Country Festival in Nampa (a few miles west of Boise), Idaho,

Dave Kellogg opines on this event, in essence calling out the Obama administration for discriminating against an event that has had the same military flyover for the previous 42 years, dating back to the administration of Lyndon B. Johnson. I don’t believe Obama’s administration is to blame here and I will explain why.

If one looks at the Web site of the God and Country Festival, particularly its about page, there is an unmistakably strong religious overtone. Quoting from the first two paragraphs of the about page:

The God and Country Festival in Nampa, Idaho is organized by a volunteer-driven organization called the God and Country Association, Inc. The organization is made up of Christians who are committed to strengthening the fabric of the Treasure Valley community through the Good News of Jesus Christ. We are also interested in helping believers around the nation get an independent God and Country event started.

We believe that Christians in America should have a natural affection for their country because it was founded on the godly ideal that liberty is derived, not as a gift of governments and politicians, but as a gift of our Creator.

To be honest, I’m surprised their requests have been approved for over four decades. According to this, the organization is not primarily about honoring the veterans at all, which is what some of the news quotes would lead you to believe. From what the Web site states, the organization’s purpose is more about furthering their religion as it is about honoring veterans. In fact, from the home page:

We want to make it clear that although it is unashamedly a Christian event, a major part of the Festival is honoring our troops who protect our freedom to assemble.

Yes, many of the original founders of this nation were Christian. However, the framers of the Constitution also wrote in freedom of religion for a reason. As one who practices a faith quite different from Christianity, I would feel somewhat excluded from this event, or even a similar event held locally.

Quoting the end of Dave’s post:

Isn’t this taking the separation of church and state just a bit too far? I guess it doesn’t surprise me, though, that this is taking place during the Obama administration. Considering this event has taken place during every Presidential administration over the last 42 years, including both Democrat and Republican Presidents, could it be any other reason other than someone in Obama’s administration doesn’t like the fact that it would’ve been taking place at a *** and Country Family Festival?

It doesn’t surprise me that the Pentagon has been flaunting the seperation of church and state clause of the Constitution for over four decades. I’m glad someone at the Pentagon decided to actually look up the organization before just rubber-stamping “approved” on the request.