Sunday, 17 August 2014
Navy Reverses Decision to Remove Bibles From Rooms, Reviews Policy
Navy rooms, and has noted that it would be reviewing its policy.
Navy Exchange Service Command officials had previously said
they would be removing all religious literature, following
complaints from an atheist group.
"That decision and our religious accommodation policies with
regard to the placement of religious materials are under review,"
Navy spokesman Lt. Chika Onyekanne said in a statement.
"While that review is underway, religious materials removed
from Navy Lodge rooms will be returned."
The Navy's decision to put Bibles back in its lodge and guest
rooms came on Thursday, Navy Times reported. The reversal
follows backlash from religious groups who had asked why the
Navy is giving in to demands from the Freedom From Religion
Foundation, which filed a complaint against the Bibles earlier
"A Bible in a hotel room is no more illegal than a chaplain in the
military. They are there for those who want them," Chaplain Col.
Ron Crews, USAR retired, executive director of Chaplain Alliance
for Religious Liberty, said in a statement earlier this week.
"There is nothing wrong with allowing the Gideons to place
Bibles in Navy lodges, which it has done for decades at no cost
to the Navy. Our service men and women are often away from
home, sometimes for long periods of time. It's perfectly
constitutional and legal to allow the Gideons to provide, at their
own expense, this source of comfort for service men and women
FFRF had argued that the presence of the Bible in Navy rooms
"amounts to a government endorsement of that religious text."
The atheist group had praised the initial decision to remove
religious literature from such rooms, with FFRF representative
Sam Grover telling Fox News' Todd Starnes in an email:
"FFRF is pleased to learn that NEXCOM has taken seriously its
constitutional obligation to remain neutral toward religion as a
representative of our federal government."
NEXCOM clarified in its latest statement that managers had
historically been allowed to place Gideons Bibles in guest rooms
free of charge, but now all requests to distribute religious
materials would have to go through the chaplain's office of each
"This will allow the commanding officer to determine, in
accordance with personnel readiness and military regulations,
whether the materials will be accepted and how they will be
handled and distributed," the statement read.
Navy Times noted that there are 40 Navy Lodges in 16 states
and five countries around the world, where active, reserve and
retired sailors and their families are offered discounted hotel rooms.