Secularists are demanding ‘swift, visible and aggressive punishment’ for a US Air Force Major because he has had an open Bible on his desk.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) said the situation was “repulsive”, “sordid” and “disgusting” and had left 33 families “very scared”.
Pictures taken of Major Steve Lewis’ Bible appear to show it open at the end of the book of Philippians, with some verses highlighted and underlined.
US Air Force (USAF) Colonel Damon Feltman said he was awaiting a review of the situation, but that having a Bible, or other religious books, is not a problem.
MRFF’s founder Michael Weinstein raised the issue in an email to Colonel Feltman, claiming the Bible had ‘fatally poisoned’ the atmosphere in the Air Force office.
He said the Bible was a “brazen display of sectarian Christian triumphalism and exceptionalism” which caused “helpless subordinates” to view it daily.
The secularist group had been contacted by an individual claiming to speak for 33 US Air Force workers who were unhappy with the presence of the Bible.
Weinstein’s organisation demanded “immediate, official action” to investigate the complaint.
“MRFF demands that you order Major Steve Lewis to remove his Christian bible display forthwith from his official USAF desktop workspace” and that depending on the results of the investigation he and his supervisor should be “swiftly, visibly and aggressively punished”.
Speaking to Fox News’ Todd Starnes, Colonel Feltman said Lewis had “removed the Bible voluntarily because he didn’t want this to cause attention or disruption to his unit”.
He said he was waiting for a review before making a “final assessment”, but: “As long as he’s not doing something excessive, the existence of a Bible or the Koran or the Torah or some other religious article is not prohibited”.
“It’s what you do with it when you have it”, he added.
Last year a statue of a soldier kneeling before a cross was removed from a war memorial in North Carolina following a legal threat by a secular organisation.
The decision to remove the memorial was opposed by many members of the local community, including veterans, who turned out to stage a protest.