ADF to Navy: Don’t surrender to atheist group’s push to purge Bibles

Letter explains allowing Bibles in guest rooms at Navy lodges is constitutional
Thursday, August 14, 2014

Attorney sound bites:  Joseph La Rue #1  |  Joseph La Rue #2

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Alliance Defending Freedom sent a letter to the Navy Exchange Service Command Wednesday after it needlessly agreed to remove Bibles from guest rooms in hotels and lodges on Navy bases after receiving a complaint from an atheist group.

Freedom from Religion Foundation complained that allowing groups like Gideons International, a Christian organization, to place Bibles in guest rooms violates the First Amendment. The ADF letter debunks this claim, explains that allowing the Bibles does not violate the Constitution, and encourages the Navy to reverse its decision instead of surrendering to the atheist group’s unfounded legal threats and inaccurate demands.

“Chaplains on Navy bases and ships aren’t illegal, and neither are Bibles in Navy guest rooms,” said ADF Legal Counsel Joseph E. La Rue. “For decades, the Navy has respected the constitutional freedoms of service men and women of faith by allowing the placement of Bibles in lodges at no expense to the military. By deciding to change directions based on the flawed legal reasoning of an activist organization known to be hostile to religion, the Navy is violating the First Amendment freedoms our military has fought so hard to preserve.”

“Gideons Bibles in guest rooms are simply a discrete way of accommodating the needs of traveling guests,” La Rue explained. “They are in no way a government promotion of religion.”

As the ADF letter explains, “No court in the country has ever issued a ruling that
government-run guest facilities allowing Bibles to be placed in their rooms violate the First
Amendment. Rather, the Establishment Clause allows for private individuals and groups, like
the Gideons, to place Bibles at their own expense on government property.”

The letter also explains that the “Supreme Court and numerous other federal courts have repeatedly condemned efforts to exclude or restrict religious materials, while allowing other materials, as viewpoint or content discrimination.”

Americans concerned about the Navy’s decision can respectfully contact NESC Vice President Michael Bockelman’s office at (757)502-7496.

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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