Beliefs Culture Institutions Politics

Bibles booted from U.S. Navy base guest rooms

Navy has reversed course and restored Gideon Bibles to its lodges/hotel rooms.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is hailing a decision by the Navy to remove Gideon Bibles from its lodges/hotel rooms.

Photo courtesy of Joshua H., via Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Navy will no longer allow Bibles and other religious materials in the guest rooms of Navy lodges, a decision that has infuriated some conservative groups, which recently learned about the new policy.

(RNS) The U.S. Navy will no longer allow Bibles and other religious materials in the guest rooms of Navy lodges, a decision that has infuriated some conservative groups, which recently learned about the new policy.

The Navy’s decision came after the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter questioning the constitutionality of religious literature in the Navy lodges’ 3,000 guest rooms.

The June 19 directive from the Navy Exchange Service Command, which runs the Navy’s 39 guest lodges in the U.S. and abroad, allows religious materials to be made available to guests. But it forbids religious items to be placed in guest rooms, aligning the command, known as NEXCOM, with U.S. Navy policy, said NEXCOM spokeswoman Kathleen Martin.

On Tuesday (Aug. 12) the American Family Association made the directive the subject of its latest “action alert,” asking members to call Navy officials to reverse the decision. The Chaplains Alliance for Religious Liberty has called on the Navy to do the same.

“Our U.S. soldiers are being asked to respect the Muslim religion while Christians are being categorically discriminated against,” said AFA President Tim Wildmon. “Such an attack on religious liberty has no place in the United States military.”

But supporters of the Navy directive, said it rights a constitutional wrong, in that the Establishment Clause does not allow the U.S. government to promote or favor any particular religion.

Guests enjoy the lobby area of the newly opened Navy Lodge Hawaii located on Ford Island.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy, photo by Photographer’s Mate 1st Class William R. Goodwin. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Guests enjoy the lobby area of the newly opened Navy Lodge Hawaii located on Ford Island.

“We would be just as angry if there was a Quran or a Torah or Richard Dawkins’ ‘The God Delusion,'” in the bedside tables of these Navy lodges, said Mikey Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.

The directive asks lodge managers to work with Navy chaplains to determine “the method to remove religious material currently in the guest rooms.”

The Chaplains Alliance for Religious Liberty said NEXCOM was trampling on a long-standing tradition.

“A Bible in a hotel room is no more illegal than a chaplain in the military. They are there for those who want them,” said retired Army Reserve Chaplain Ron Crews, the alliance’s executive director. “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.”


About the author

Lauren Markoe

Lauren Markoe has been a national reporter for RNS since 2011. Previously she covered government and politics as a daily reporter at the Charlotte Observer and The State (Columbia, S.C.)


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  • You can tell the argument for the Bibles was complete bullcrap.

    Reference to tradition is never a good legal argument. Failing to note the difference between something people come to voluntarily and something they get without asking for is also pretty bad.

    Plus if a Wildmon is all for a policy, you know nothing good will ever come from it. Its got to be garbage by association. 🙂

    There is simply no excuse for the military to be endorsing blatantly sectarian actions.

  • Mickey Weinstein?

    Not surprising.

    Bet he has no problem with all american people being taxed for a jewish state though.

  • “The liberty enjoyed by the people of these states of worshiping Almighty God agreeably to their conscience, is not only among the choicest of their blessings, but also of their rights.” –George Washington, to the Annual meeting of Quakers, 1789

  • Jsmith,
    Have you been to Quaker meetings? I have, and recently. No Bibles, crosses etc., were in evidence. They preferred to wait on inspiration. I suggest you do the same.

  • Your comments come across as disturbingly anti-Semitic and you ought to be ashamed for posting it.

  • All biblical literature, all religious literature of every kind, should be promptly removed from all civil locations. The only exception warranted would be places such as chapels provided for military personnel serving this country when their service locations prevent them from access to religious locations because of their enforced separation.

  • Your comments, as Larry’s, would confound, discomfit, and dismay the bulk of our founding fathers, and the early citizens of the American Republic. Many of our earliest citizens may not have been particularly pious, but they held a respect and regard for the bible that is utterly lacking today. The only reference to religion in the constitution lies in the oft quoted and wholly misinterpreted 1st Amendment. Anyone with a basic understanding of the founding and the language of the period recognizes and understands that the establishment clause, in effect, meant that Congress could not establish an official ‘National” Church, such as the Church of England in Great Britain. This supposed government ‘Neutrality’ that is touted is in fact hostility to religion, particularly Christianity.

  • Man, some folks are plan fidephobic. Afraid of a little book. Afraid of a book. What’s next? Book burnings? I see two common threads between the far right Christian religious nuts and the far left athiest/humanist nuts: first both are so arrogant they presume to know how everyone else should live because they don’t believe people should have freedom to decide for themselves. Second, they want need to control.

  • Actually Mickey has a track record of threatening the military over Christian presentations (such as nativity scenes) but never once has he threatened over a Menorah or other Jewish rite or presentation. He does seem to have a demonstrated bias against Christianity in favor of Judaism underneath his so called call for freedom from religion. I think it is more that he wants freedom from one particular religion.

  • A slight correction, Article VI of the Constitution states that “…no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” Still not the same as a wholesale exclusion of spiritual precepts (primarily Christian within the context of the time) from the operation and actions of government. Upon further research, it is plainly obvious from the writings of the founders themselves, that “an establishment of religion” was clearly meant as the legal establishment of a particular sect of Christianity. PERIOD..

  • That was a rather ridiculous comment John.

    The blatant Christian sectarianism which has crept into the military as of late has been well documented. Your feeble claim of bias ignores the fact that we are not seeing Jewish military leaders abusing their position with coercive prayer functions, denying access to military facilities based on religion or blatantly proselytizing among the ranks.

    Coercive presentations of any religion is out of bounds for people working on behalf of the government. Government cannot be seen to show favoritism to any given religion.

    You really have no valid excuse for having the Bibles on military property in a setting which is not voluntarily chosen by the given personnel. A hotel room is not a chapel. The guests did not chose to have a Bible there. It has no place. The only response you have is rank character assassination.

  • You are reading too much David Barton nonsense. Everything you said about the Establishment clause is utter fiction.

    Separation of Church and State as the bedrock of religious freedom was a concept in existence a century before the Constitution. This was an integral part of the colonial charters of Rhode Island and Pennsylvania, was a key part of New York’s history as a Dutch and subsequently British colony. Diogenes, you really have no idea what you are talking about when you claim to understand “what the founders intended”.

    Your reading of the Establishment clause is so reductive as to be completely ineffective for anything. The Founders and every subsequent person who has had to interpret the 1st Amendment took issue with any kind of entanglement of government and religion inevitably leads to sectarian discriminatory behavior. Something which always undermines free exercise of religion.

    This religious neutrality is hostile to people who want to create a theocratic government, who have no respect for freedom of religion. Christians like yourself have no respect for the faiths of others, want to spread it by coercion and engage in religious discrimination under the law. You rail against religious neutrality and the separation of church and state because you can’t get your way.

    “Upon further research, it is plainly obvious from the writings of the founders themselves, that “an establishment of religion” was clearly meant as the legal establishment of a particular sect of Christianity. PERIOD..”

    NONSENSE, You are going to rely on FABRICATED QUOTES from David Barton’s little cabal or outright lying to try to prove this. I am well aware of your sources. They are by all objective standards a load of horsecrap.

  • So you are saying everyone in the military is a Christian? or should be?
    Are you saying the military is run solely for the benefit of Christians?

    That seems to be the case here. How dare you call yourself an American.

  • The activities of the Freedom from Religion Foundation have nothing to do with liberty and everything to do with socially-sanctioned aggression. Same for their enablers in the legal profession and same for their defenders in fora like this.

  • I have a plan. Let us form a charitable society, dedicated to putting a copy of the Koran in every hotel room, every doctor’s office, and every hospital room. Perhaps we could get funding from the Saudis.

  • So in other words, the only excuse you have for the Bibles is an ad hominem character assassination of the person/group who made the complaint. Attack the person making the complaint rather than address it on its merits.

    No explanation why Bibles belong in US Navy hotel rooms?
    No alleged flaws in the arguments against them?

    It may be “socially sanctioned aggression” as you call it, but it is clearly justified in light of some very improper and blatantly sectarian actions by people in leadership positions within the military. Obviously the Navy believed the policy was not a good one once it was brought to light.

  • If you’re going to have Bibles in government housing, then you have to permit every other available religious (or atheist) text as well, from the Koran to Bhagavad Gita to The God Delusion. Every bedside table would have to contain at least a fifty volume library. It’s ridiculous. Anyone is welcome to read whatever religious books they like, as much as they like. They simply have to bring their own. It’s high time people started acting like grown ups about religion in the United States. You are welcome to practice your own religion as you see fit, but you don’t get to have an assist from the government to help spread it around. The American people in their enormous generosity, have already declared all religious property (churches, mosques, etc., etc.,) to be tax free. That is a gift from taxpayers that is estimated to be worth 71 billion per year. That’s more than enough to assist the religious among us.

  • Yes, and anyone may bring whatever religious text they prefer along with them, and read it as much as they like.

  • “Reference to tradition is never a good legal argument.”

    First Amendment disallows “prohibiting the free-exercise thereof.” A little bit stronger argument than the “tradition” you cite.

  • “Government cannot be seen to show favoritism to any given religion.”

    Where is this stated Constitutionally?

    I am aware that CONGRESS cannot pass any laws endorsing a religion, but this was not a Congressional Law. This was simply a Navy Policy enacted by the Navy. This was individual citizens within the Navy utilizing the First Amendments’ “Free Exercise Thereof” Clause explicitly stated.

    I would ask you: From a legal standpoint, what do you hang your hat on to favor this policy? Please cite the Statute/Law/Amendment you are referring to.

  • Your opinion has no legal standing on a Federal, or a State Level.

    Please provide the legal statute referring to why it is legal to remove all of this material.

  • How is having a book available in a room “spreading by coercion.”

    It was YOUR side that went crying to the Navy to get them removed. THAT is coercion.

  • You also provide no basis for your arguments, but simply imply that his quotes are wrong because “they just are.”


  • Blame the chaplains organization for making such a poor argument. They cited “tradition” in their defense.

    Free exercise does not extend to actions taken on behalf of the government. That would constitute “Establishment of religion” by government which is prohibited.

    The problem with “the free exercise of religion” in this case in this case is it is not the free exercise of those using the Naval facilities for its intended purposes. Your right of free exercise of religion does not extend to appropriating government facilities, in service of your beliefs. Worse still, it does not apply to giving the public the impression your religious faith is supported by government institutions.

  • Please paste the quote where John states that “everyone in the military is a Christian? or should be? Are you saying the military is run solely for the benefit of Christians?”

    In order to persude, must you put words in others’ mouths they did not say?

  • Its called the Establishment Clause and all of its interpretations under the law since. Re-read the 1st Amendment.

    You seem to be under the mistaken impression that the Judiciary does not exist. That Congress has the role of interpreting laws in a Constitutional framework. The Supreme Court has that role. On numerous occasions has had the duty of interpreting the 1st Amendment religious freedoms in light of the military. Including the interplay of free exercise and establishment clauses.

    “This was simply a Navy Policy enacted by the Navy. This was individual citizens within the Navy utilizing the First Amendments’ “Free Exercise Thereof” Clause explicitly stated.”

    No it wasn’t. Whose free exercise?
    The naval personnel using lodges? No.
    The free exercise of those running the lodges? No.

    An outside group acting with endorsement from military leaders. By doing so it gave the impression that the Gideons are wholly supported by the Navy. Any act which gives the impression that government is favoring a given sect or religious faith is establishment of religion.

    The military has no business acting in any way which shows endorsement, entanglement or favoritism towards any given faith. The role of a chaplain is to see to the voluntary religious needs of its soldiers. As another poster mentioned, if they want religious expression, they have to ask for it themselves. It will be provided within reason. It is not the role of military leaders to act as religious figures or to use government facilities to further their faith.

    I get the impression that you probably get your information about religious freedom from those theocratic revisionists who like to think Separation of Church and State does not really exist. It does. Without it, you cannot have effective free exercise of religion. Of course the reality is such people who attack separation of church and state don’t really like free exercise either. That is unless it applies to only themselves.

  • It is a religious text. It gives the impression that the Bible, or more exactly Christianity is wholly supported by the US Navy exclusively, at the detriment of others. Its coercive because the people using it don’t ask for the Bibles in the room.

  • You are trolling and feigning ignorance. Evidently your copy of the 1st Amendment is missing the Establishment Clause.

  • Research the following and get back to me:
    Roger Williams
    William Penn
    The Flushing Remonstrance
    Every Supreme Court holding on the Establishment Clause. Most notably Lemon v. Kurtzman

    And throw in a little Wallbuilders and David Barton for how not to make arguments about the separation of church and state.

  • Please learn to read before you continue trolling. I am merely putting John’s statement in the plainest of terms. What he is implying with his statements.

    John was saying that. He is saying, “what is the harm in something which shows the military is acts which blatantly favor Christianity?”

  • If you’re going to have Bibles in government housing, then you have to permit every other available religious (or atheist) text as well, from the Koran to Bhagavad Gita to The God Delusion. Every bedside table would have to contain at least a fifty volume library.

    Only in an imaginary world which had no dominant culture. The presence of bibles in hotel rooms reflects the following:

    1. That a volunteer society saw fit to put them there, with the co-operation of the hotel management.

    2. That no one found it objectionable. You do not actually have to read the Bible and it leaves you uninjured if you are not a master of the fancied slight.

    The people who find it objectionable are the sorts who spit in other people’s cookie dough. A well run society does not truckle to such people or pay them any heed at all.

  • The people using the rooms didn’t ask for them. So no.Try again.

    What you have is an outside group using military facilities to promote their sectarian ends and giving the impression that the US military wholly supports their religious beliefs exclusively. Establishment of religion.

  • Your “Establishment” example only holds-up if it is based on a Congressional law, which this directive is not.

  • It may be “socially sanctioned aggression” as you call it, but it is clearly justified in light of some very improper and blatantly sectarian actions by people in leadership positions within the military. Obviously the Navy believed the policy was not a good one once it was brought to light.

    It’s not justified in the least, Larry. You’re projecting your own character and personality defects on pleasant and benign people. If the authorities care about justice and order, they show you the door and do not give you franchise to harass others.

  • They did not ‘ask’ for a whole mess of accessories in the hotel room. They’re free not to use them. They don’t need your intercession, and the quality of that intercession is repulsive.

  • You seem to forget those hotels are owned by the US government.

    1. The “hotel management” here cannot assent to using facilities for the furtherance of sectarian religious beliefs under the Establishment Clause.

    2. As for objections, its presence as the sole religious text in a hotel room run by the military is objectionable enough on its own. The harm done to the reputation of the Navy already existed even without complaints.

    People who feel the need to use public resources for the furtherance of their religious belief have zero respect for any faith but their own. They spit upon our constitution and American culture of diversity. A society which respects the religious beliefs of others does not engage in such selfish sectarian acts.

  • The legal advice you’ve been receiving is woefully bad, Larry. The Congress who sent the 1st Amendment to the state legislatures also hired a chaplain.

  • So any pretense to belief in religious freedom is a load of bullcrap. If an act doesn’t further Christianity, you have no use for the free exercise of religion.

  • Well actually they do. Everything else in the rooms serves a function for the convenience and comfort of the guest. A Bible serves no such function unless requested. The government gives no impression of favoring a given faith with a hairdryer. It does with Bibles.

    Having it there tells guests that the Navy only respects Christians and nobody else. That is repulsive.

  • Now you are trying to attack my character rather than discuss the issue.
    You really don’t have an argument.

  • You don’t have a clue what you are talking about.

    A chaplain is there for the benefit of the soldiers. They ask to see one. Nobody is under any compulsion to see one. A chaplain is not allowed to administer religious rites to people who do not assent to them. A chaplain’s duty to a soldier is considered more important than their duty as a member of a given faith. A chaplain many times has to serve the needs of many faiths for the good of the military.

    The same can’t be said about Bibles being placed into a room involuntarily. It endorses a specific faith. It is not something asked for by the person staying there. Its purpose is to serve a given religious end, not those of the military.

  • The first amendment is not “Congressional law”?

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”

    Have you read this before? I don’t get that impression

    Of course the stupidity of your argument is that if true, your “free exercise of religion” also subject to the same lack of standing.

  • If there had been Korans in the rooms, everyone who is upset about this decision would be shrieking about “sharia,” “jihad,” the “Muslim usurper in the White House,” etc. Except for Lles Nats. whom I expect to suicide-bomb a Jewish center any day now.

  • I joined the FFRF because I wanted to support their work. I often hear that line “freedom of religion does not mean freedom from religion” and wonder “why not?” It is baffling to me that people would believe in heaven and hell or that a being created the universe. They would have to ignore so incredibly much to think that. I pretty much ignore religious symbols. I am lucky enough to live in a part of the country where there are lots of different religions and lots of non-believers. People don’t shun you if you are and atheist here. But I hear stories from people I know that live in the South or the Midwest who are afraid to talk about their beliefs. That seems terrible to me. Bizarrely Christians are whining that if people try to protect non-Christians from persecution they are infringing on the Christian’s rights, as if persecuting people is a fundamental Christian value. If you look at the history of Christianity it is pretty to extrapolate that this is the case. Others have said it but it is incomprehensible to me that someone would think that it is OK to put a bible in someone room but not the Q’uran. I have Muslim friends, Hindu friends, Buddhist friends, Atheist friends, Christian friends, Zoroastrian friends and friends who have made up their own religions. To get along we have to (tacitly) agree that everyone’s religion is in its own sphere and they are all fine. So freedom from religion partially encourages people to give up religion altogether but it is also about not laying your trip on others. I support that and there is nothing I have seen by the most central of the Founding Fathers to lead me to believe they felt any differently. I think your hostility to the Freedom From Religion Foundation is misplaced. I interpret it to be that any person should be free from having any religion forced on them no matter what their beliefs. Besides, as Buddha said: “holding onto anger is like drinking poison and hoping the other person will die.”

  • Fixed headline: “U.S. Navy announces service members will be able to read the bible, just as they’ve always been. Donated bibles still available in millions of private sector locations.”

  • One of us does not know what he’s talking about, and it ain’t me. The Bibles are also there for the benefit of those using the facilities.

  • Larry, do you think no one here has not encountered your type in workplaces? Your character is what’s at issue. You have no argument, and are referencing no authentic problem. You have only aggression against others. Intelligent supervisors tell people like you to quit irritating their co-workers or find another job. There’s no accommodating them and they merit no accomodation.

  • No. There would not likely have been Korans in the room without other literature because Muslims are only 1% of the population. By the way, the military can be right ‘accommodating’ of Muslims (see Hassan, Nidal).

  • People who feel the need to use public resources for the furtherance of their religious belief have zero respect for any faith but their own.

    The Gideon Society puts a book on a night table in a hotel room and you fancy you live in Calvin’s Geneva. Get help.

  • Everything else in the rooms serves a function for the convenience and comfort of the guest. A Bible serves no such function unless requested.

    The Bible serves a function for one type of consumer, the cable television for another.

  • Wow, lots of comments! Over what? Nothing. Separation of church and state, ’nuff said. Anytime something happens that these church/neo-con groups don’t like, they act like their daughters have been ravished by atheist midgets. I thought we were a nation of laws, not the rule of whoever can shout the loudest or whine the most. Act like men and women, you got beat, kudos to FFRF.

  • Might makes right argument? Are you kidding me?

    Rights do not follow whomever is in the majority. Quite the opposite. Civil liberties and things like constitutional guarantees of rights are there to protect minorities from a majority who would gladly vote to discriminate against them under the law.

    Nobody is being accommodated by the involuntary inclusion of a Bible in a military facility except outsiders with an agenda which runs counter to prevailing laws concerning government officials and religious endorsement.

  • Now you are trying feeble analogy or deliberately trying to misconstrue the point. Public housing is not necessarily government owned. What is done behind the doors is the business of the residents.

    They will however catch flak if they use common areas for sectarian religious displays. Because it gives the impression public housing is for Christians only.

  • Its on military property and gives the impression of government endorsement of Christianity. It doesn’t belong there. Your faith does not need government subsidy or support.

    Obviously you have no problem with such things because it is your faith. But less selfish people, people who understand civil liberties and rights would see the problem with it.

  • If customers want them, they can follow the guidelines set by the military before this clearly illegal policy. They can ask for a Bible.

    A Bible serves no function to those whose religious belief does not adopt it. Its presence as the sole religious text available in a government operated hotel is offensive to those outside of said belief.

    Unless you want to pretend that the government only serves the needs of Christians. That appears to be your point. You are a repulsive selfish human being with no respect for any faith but your own.

  • No they aren’t. They are there for the benefit of Christians. To put their “tramp stamp” on a government facility and give the impression the Navy is a Christian entity.

    If someone wants a bible, they can ask for it. The government must respect all faiths and show favoritism to none. So the Bibles serve no function except to create an unnecessary controversy.

  • You are a regular Dr. Freud.

    Art Deco do you have normal office hours or dispense your therapy online only?

    You feel like making this personal. A sure sign you have nothing of value to contribute towards an intelligent discussion.

    if you feel the need, you can pray for me in the typical passive aggressive way Christians feel they must when flustered.

  • Anti Semitic? I think you need to look up the true meaning of the misused word. Jews are not all Semitic. Jew can mean religion. Semites are people from a certain part of the world. Has nothing to do with religion. Arabs such as Palestinians are Semites. So in reality most Israelis are anti Semites and of course those who dislike Arabs and Muslims in the ME. Funny how Zionist even managed to change the meaning of a word.

  • Why is that the only book available in the rooms? Are other books allowed to be kept there? Because I have a bunch of extra copies of the first Harry Potter that I’d like to get rid of.

  • Why is that the only book available in the rooms? Are other books allowed to be kept there? Because I have a bunch of extra copies of the first Harry Potter that I’d like to get rid of.

  • Any religious person who wants to read the Bible should probably bring their own. Any bored person who just wants something to read would probably want a selection of books, including some that aren’t so preachy.

  • The Gideons leave something in your room and it’s the Lord’s work. You leave something in your room and it’s littering. Remind me why they deserve special treatment?

  • And whether or not the hotel guest uses the Bible, the cable television, the shampoo made with beer, eggs, or coconut is also his own business.

  • Obviously you have no problem with such things because it is your faith.

    No, Larry. I have no problem with such things because I’m a normal human being. I’d only object were I an obnoxious asshat.

  • But Washington probably realized that a government which endorses a given religious faith and sect would oppose the rights of people like the Quakers to worship as they please. The Quakers certainly knew that. They as a sect being against religious oaths in government and strong proponents of the separation of church and state.

    The Washington quote is inapt except as an indirect way to reference the value in the separation of church and state towards the protection of the free exercise of religion. Probably not Jsmith’s intention. 🙂

  • No, you knucklehead. There are 3 million Muslims in this country. There are 50 million evangelicals who have a standing infrastructure to distribute such Bibles. They distribute them in a country where biblical verses are common allusions and the Bible is part of popular culture, which fragments of the Koran have never been.

  • Which of those items gives the impression that the Navy endorses a given religious belief?

    A hint, it isn’t the shampoo.

    Do you see a pattern with my responses? A point I am trying to make, that you want to avoid, over and over again.

    There is no point in continuing a discussion with someone as mendacious as you. You know you don’t have a valid argument, but you continue flinging poo like a diarrhetic chimpanzee.

  • A well run society does not truckle to such people or pay them any heed at all.
    So you do have problems with the U.S. Constitution.
    The Majority do not “Rule”.
    The Rule is the Constitution. So you got your law degree where?

  • You ARE an obnoxious asshat!

    A rather dishonest and nasty minded one at that.

    Someone who thinks their religious belief trumps consideration of anyone else. You think that it is your privilege as a Christian to appropriate public resources and give insult to anyone else who believes differently than yourself.

    But this is what you are left with. Ignore the law, ignore religious freedom, just hurl insults because someone doesn’t like an obnoxious, tasteless, and thoroughly illegal misuse of public resources.

  • @ Art Deco,
    You are Clueless as to the American Constitution and the Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments).

  • You could have fooled me! You said that a minority religious group has fewer rights to free exercise of religion in disseminating their literature than your own. You called such acts insulting.

    Evangelicals are no more deserving of greater rights in this country than anyone else. Your religious beliefs do not trump consideration of the those others hold. Your religious beliefs do not grant you the right to use public facilities for the furtherance of your faith.

    The Gideons distribute the Bibles to promote Christian belief. You can stop the dishonest pretense they are there for any other reason. Obviously you would exclude other religious texts because they are not your own religion. You really have no appreciation for religious freedom whatsoever.

  • I don’t think the argument that the Navy favors a religion by allowing the Gideons to place Bibles in the rooms holds water. There are many hotels and motels across the country that are owned and operated by people who hold to a non-Christian faith. Practically all of these hotels allow the Gideons to place Bibles. None of those places allow it to show favoritism. They are merely trying to accommodate their guests. I’m convinced that is the case with the Navy, too. There are plenty of things done by governments that may show some favoritism, but I think this falls far short of establishment of religion.

  • None of those are government facilities. There is no law where a business owner cannot endorse religious belief on their privately owned property or business. Your deliberate failure to make such a distinction renders your argument somewhat dishonest in its presentation.

    The Gideons olace the bibles to further their religious belief, they are not meeting a customer need. You misrepresent their purpose.
    Just because there are more blatant acts of violating the establishment clause, does not diminish the fact that this is one as well.

  • If Barton were guilty of misrepresenting the quotes of our founding fathers, he would be called on it regularly. I have heard of such charges against him but they don’t typically hold water. The quotes are annotated, and He is not my primary source for my argument.

  • You’re seeing things that aren’t there Larry, John’s post has no reference to your charge, as one right wing religious nut to a left wing atheist nut, I find his comment pretty balanced.

  • Your grasp of the establishment clause is as infantile as most of your argument, go ahead have a tantrum, there are vast sources regarding the discussions the founders had with respect to religion and your over the top revisionism does not negate that you imbecilic moron. (Just taking a page out of your book).

  • As usual you hurl insults rather than try to refute what I said. Your sources are going to be either Wallbuilders/David Barton fictions or something derived from them. Your arguments on the subject made that apparent.

    The Founders are hardly the ultimate source on the subject of civil liberties due to a key omission which would mot be corrected for almost a century later. Such arguments rely on ignoring the existence of the Judiciary or of the doctrine of separation of church and state first proposed by Anabaptist sects a century before the American Revolution.

    You either have no idea what you are talking about or just feel like lying about our history to further your faith.

  • Barton IS called out regularly for his lies! Even his previous publishers found his work factually lacking. You have either never bothered to take his critics seriously or don’t care. Every professional historian considers him a fraud.

    He is regularly pilloried for using fictitious quotes, making specious arguments and attacking both free exercise of religion and the establishment clause.

    You are repeating his arguments verbatim. The same foolish interpretations, the same claim of support through quote mining. Your argument doesn’t even attempt to make sense. Without separation of church and state, as expounded by the founders of three colones, one cannot have protect free exercise of religion. The only goal of your argument is to appropriate the government for your faith and attack the religious liberties of others.

  • Never mind, Diogenes. Larry has a weird thing about this David Barton guy. I once quoted and referenced a volume of John Adams’ collected writings compiled and published by his grandson in 1853, and Larry accused David Barton of having fabricated the quote–over a century before he was born.

    Of course, if I believed David Barton could do a feat like that, I’d probably want to talk about him all the time, too. 😀

  • The burden of proof falls to you. Why should these legally be put in every room but not any other religious texts?

    that’s like me imposing that Hulk comic books should be put in all guest rooms. I have no legal right to implement this, even if I provide them free of charge, no matter how big of a fan I am. If I lived, breathed and worshiped Hulk, that doesn’t give me the right to stick one in every hotel room, even if I have the means to.

    it’d be a lot cooler than a bible.

  • Shawnie, that would be a credible story if you had actually referenced your source in a manner which was verifiable. Plenty of people quote mine and pawn it off as coming from an original book source. Its an old tactic of people who feel the need to misrepresent facts to support their position.

    Of course you aren’t contributing anything to the conversation besides a personal attack. Unless you have an opinion on the establishment clause and the Navy, don’t waste any more time and bandwidth and buzz off.

  • LOL! Of course I referenced it. The entire volume was online through Google books and I linked to it. And you said the quote was a David Barton fabrication and the volume was a book of “questionable provenance.” I still remember it because it was so hilarious.

    It’s simply the natural result of trying to substitute gleanings from atheist propaganda sites for an actual working knowledge of history and its pivotal written works. Those idiots would rather sit around throwing cyber-darts at a boogeyman like David Barton than check out history for themselves. I’m reminded of Archie Bunker declaring that feminism was “all the fault of that Helen Curly Steinway.”

  • @Glen
    “There are many hotels and motels across the country that are owned and operated by people who hold to a non-Christian faith. Practically all of these hotels allow the Gideons to place Bibles.”
    What private citizens do has nothing to do with the Constitutional restrictions on the actions of government.
    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”
    No law means no law. It means the President has no authority in such matters. This means the Navy has no authority in these matters. Just because laws get ignored or broken, does not mean that they do not apply. That is why we have a judiciary.

  • @ART,
    Corrupt? You are arguing that if one resists the will of the majority (democracy) it is corrupt? Athens had a democracy which voted to put Socrates to death. We do not have such powers in our system. The United States has a Republic with a written constitution that deliberately restricts direct democracy, slows down its power and the speed of due process. It also deliberately limits the powers of government to those specifically granted. The founders were terrified of direct democracy and of the tyranny of the majority. Additionally, they divided Governmental authority into three branches and further divided the legislature into two bodies. I get the impression that you do not support the U.S. Constitution. FWIW, the Bible provides no examples of any democratic society.

  • Whatever Sparky. My level of care for the argument you are trying to dredge up is about zero.

    The legions of people calling out David Barton’s fictions are easy enough to look up online. It has gotten so easy to do it that even TV personalities have gotten in on the act. Your may be ignorant of the guy, but you are probably well aware of his phony arguments and fictions. Barton has gotten himself so ingrained among theocratic nabobs that many don’t even realize who they are cribbing from anymore.

    Let me make this easy for you, if you are making silly statements like:
    “America is a Christian Nation” ;
    “The separation of church and state is a myth” ;
    “The Founders were devout Christians”

    You are probably cribbing from Barton.

  • Except that wasn’t what I quoted. This is:

    To the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachussetts, 11 October 1798

    While our country remains untainted with the principles and manners which are now producing desolation in so many parts of the world; while she continues sincere, and incapable of insidious and impious policy, we shall have the strongest reason to rejoice in the local destination assigned us by Providence. But should the people of America once become capable of that deep simulation towards one another, and towards foreign nations, which assumes the language of justice and moderation while it is practising iniquity and extravagance, and displays I have received from Major-General Hull and Brigadier, General Walker your unanimous address from Lexington, animated with a martial spirit, and expressed with a military dignity becoming your character and the memorable plains on which it was adopted. in the most captivating manner the charming pictures of candor, frankness, and sincerity, while it is rioting in rapine and insolence, this country will be the most miserable habitation in the world; because we have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

    An address from the officers commanding two thousand eight hundred men, consisting of such substantial citizens as are able and willing at their own expense completely to arm and clothe themselves in handsome uniforms, does honor to that division of the militia which has done so much honor to its country. Oaths in this country are as yet universally considered as sacred obligations. That which you have taken and so solemnly repeated on that venerable spot, is an ample pledge of your sincerity and devotion to your country and its government.


    Which, of course, if virtually the same thing Washington said in his Farewell Address.

    I don’t know of anyone who claims that separation of church and state is a myth, only that it doesn’t mean exactly the same thing as what it is assumed to mean today. Nor that all the founders were “devout Christians.” Some were, some weren’t. None, however, were atheists, at least from the evidence we have.

  • Except you originally cut out the parts preceding it and missed the context. As many do when quote mining. All in order to suit a theocratic agenda when first presented. This is the first time you put the full quote in. Revisionist to the end.

    Adams was saying immoral people have no use for the Constitution and would subvert it. Much like the modern day Dominionalists try to do.

    Our Founding Fathers weren’t Buddhist, Muslim or Animists either but that hardly means that such faiths are outside of the protection of the 1st Amendment religious freedoms.

    “I don’t know of anyone who claims that separation of church and state is a myth”

    Diogenese and MinnestoaSlim did just that above. Maybe you weren’t looking. 🙂

  • “Adams was saying immoral people have no use for the Constitution and would subvert it. Much like the modern day Dominionalists try to do.”

    Nor irreligious people…much like you

    “Diogenese and MinnestoaSlim did just that above. Maybe you weren’t looking.”

    D and MS did nothing of the sort. Exactly like D said, you’re seeing things that aren’t there. What they said was that the establishment clause was never intended to be used in the way modern-day atheists are insisting it be used — and very likely they are right. No national church, sure. No national funding for religion, sure. But complete exclusion of any religious expression from public forums or premises? That’s nonsense.

    But if we can absolve the unfortunate Mr. Barton of responsibility for the content of a 1798 document, then I guess we’ve made some progress.

  • Yet irreligious people like Thomas Paine associated with Madison. Go figure. I guess you can’t make broad sweeping generalizations based on taking part of a speech out of context. 🙂

    They were claiming the separation of church and state is not the “real” intention of the Establishment clause (which you are trying to avoid saying directly as well). MN played dumb as if the clause never existed, D gave a patently ridiculous take on it as “no national church”. An interpretation nobody ever used and one which renders the clause unworkable.

    The real issue here is, do you actually have a point to make on this topic or are you just taking up space to talk to me? This is he rumors get started. 🙂

  • Larry, you HAVE to get over this habit of tring to tell everyone what they are thinking. I’ve found this tendency to be startlingly pervasive among “progressives.” Lacking the wherewithal to attack a point on its actual merits, you simply put a less defensible argument into an opponent’s mouth and attack that instead. Doesn’t fly.

    The truth, as it usually does, lies somewhere in the middle. Not all of the founders held particularly orthodox beliefs themselves, but nevertheless they did not believe that the vast majority of men could handle the kind of liberty they were building into our system of government without the restraining influence of religion. As Washington noted in his farewell address:

    “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice ? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

    No doubt Washington would have counted Jefferson among those “peculiar minds” who might be expected to make proper use of liberty without religion, but of course he knew that the vast majority of men were nowhere near Jefferson’s caliber. As for Paine, his writings were a large part of the impetus for the Revolution itself but he can hardly be counted among the actual founders and framers; Adams once said that Paine was much better at tearing down than building up.

    I think the reason we have lost sight of the intent behind the Establishment clause is that we have become so spoiled to the freedom not to belong to a given church and not to suffer real deprivations of one kind or another on account of religion. This is the reality with which the founders were painfully familiar, and none of them considered freedom from a national, state-supported church to be anything paltry, like atheist whiners do today. The first president, who directed that a national day of fasting and prayer be” religiously observed” by the army and presided over by its chaplains, would have found this hoopla over the presence of bibles on military premises to be strange indeed.