“Books of Faith” to Replace the Bible

“Repugnant,” it was labeled.

“Constitutionally-offending,” denounced another description.

Or how about this one: “implied religious supremacy and divisive unconstitutional sectarian religious branding”?

It might surprise you to know that it is the Bible that is being characterized in such terms—all by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), a nonprofit organization self-described as a defender of personal religious rights.

On May 7, 2019,this same organization filed a lawsuit on behalf of one of its members, U.S. Air Force veteran James Chamberlain, against Dr. Alfred Montoya, director of the Manchester Veterans Affairs Medical Center in New Hampshire.

Its target is a Bible, one of several items traditionally displayed on “the Missing Man Table,” a memorial for prisoners of war and those missing in action and a well-known staple “at military and other public forums around the nation.”

Since the Vietnam War, these tables have been regularly set up to feature specific symbolism. There is an “empty chair” for “all who are not here with us.” Then, among the items on the table is a “red rose” for “families and loved ones” as well as a “bread plate” with “salt” to symbolize their “tears,” and, of course, the item in contention: the Bible, which “represents faith in a higher power and the pledge to our country, founded as one nation under God.”


The Book of Faith

In September 2018, following official approval from the hospital, the remembrance table at Manchester VA was put in place in the facility’s lobby by the Northeast POW/MIA Network, a private organization dedicated to the well-being of those indicated.

The Bible in the Network’s display was donated especially for this purpose by one of its members, a veteran named Herman “Herk” Streitburger, who survived as a POW during World War II in a German camp. He attributed his strength during his imprisonment to his faith. The Bible he gave to the Missing Man Table was his personal Bible.

According to the lawsuit, MRFF contacted the VA in response to 14 anonymous complaints from its members, requesting the aforementioned Bible be removed. After promptly complying, however, several weeks later, on February 23, the VA returned the Bible to the table, this time “in a locked plexiglass box.”

Chamberlain, a member of MRFF, subsequently sued, citing the unconstitutionality of the featured item and demanding that the court “issue a permanent injunction requiring the removal of said Bible.” Chamberlain is himself a Christian.

While not the defendant in the original lawsuit, the Network, represented by First Liberty Institute, filed a motion to intervene, given that the Bible is considered its private property. The document cites that Chamberlain’s request is actually an act of religious discrimination that likewise violates the First Amendment, “‘abridging the freedom of speech’ of private individuals and groups.”

After subsequent action taken by First Liberty, on July 3, 2019, the VA clarified its written policy regarding such items. Its current directive now reads, “Religious symbols may be included in a passive display in public areas of VA facilities.”

Nearly two years later, on July 26, 2021, MRFF filed an amendment for Chamberlain, modifying the original request. Instead of the permanent removal of the Bible, the group now wants another book to replace it, an alternative “Book of Faith [that] contains spiritual writings and prayers from seven faith groups—Protestant, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu.” Also commonly included is a “set of blank pages to represent those who find solace by other means,” like, for example, atheists.

 The idea was patterned after a similar situation in Cheyenne, Wyoming, in 2018, in which MRFF successfully incited the replacement of the Bible on public display at the Missing Man Table at the F.E. Warren Air Force Base.

We have yet to see what will be decided in New Hampshire.


The Truth of the Matter

Two groups on opposing sides claim to uphold the law of the land as staunch advocates for religious liberty. Which is right?

The fact of the matter is that there is an objective truth that exists in the world: The Bible is the Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16). This God is the only real God in existence (Isaiah 46:9). This God created the whole universe, including you (Colossians 1:16). His character is the absolute embodiment of love (1 John 4:8), and He has proved this by the gospel (Romans 5:8). His great purpose for you, if you believe these facts, is to tell what He did for you to everyone you meet (Mark 16:15).

Whether or not everyone likes that reality, that’s what it is. One day, everyone who has ever lived on this earth will come face to face with that reality (2 Corinthians 5:10).

When viewed in this light of absolute truth, cases like the ones MRFF so adamantly brings against the Bible in the name of religious freedom seem so futile. And the plaintiff, Chamberlain, identifying himself as a Christian while his actions work against the very definition of a Christian, seems like a tragic contradiction. Whatever anyone may believe, the truth is that “the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8).

Ultimately, herein lies the beauty of true love: God allows, God advocates, God treasures free will. We can either live in accordance with reality or deny it—it’s our own individual choice (Joshua 24:15). You can learn all about what’s at stake in that decision in another free video presentation, “What You Get Is Not What You See.” Make your choice for eternity today. 


Kris W. Sky
Kris W. Sky is a writer and editor for Amazing Facts International and other online and print publications.
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