The U.S. Air Force republished a chaplain's devotional article to a base website after an official initially removed it in response to a complaint about its reflections on the famous quotation "There are no atheists in foxholes," often attributed to President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
In early July, a devotional article by Lt. Col. Kenneth Reyes (USAF) was posted on the website of the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in the Chaplain's Corner titled "No atheists in foxholes: Chaplains gave all in World War II."
Shortly after the publication of the devotional, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation requested that the Air Force remove it off the base website and formally discipline Reyes, claiming it insulted those with no faith, according to WND.
The letter from the MRFF to the Air Force stated that in his article Reyes chose to "publicly denigrate those without religion."
The activist group also stated that Reyes "defiles the dignity of service members by telling them that regardless of their personally held philosophical beliefs they must have faith."
The Air Force removed the article within hours of receiving the complaint, according to WND.
"Chaplains have the freedom and obligation to speak about faith and religious values, and this freedom should not be censored or prohibited," said Alliance Defending Freedom litigation counsel Kellie Fiedorek in a statement released Tuesday. "The Air Force should be commended for recognizing this and returning Chaplain Reyes's essay to the 'Chaplains Corner' portion of his base's website."
ADF filed a Freedom of Information Act request earlier this month in an attempt to determine what led to the chaplain's essay being censored in the first place. "We will continue to monitor that as we stand ready to defend our men and women in uniform just as they stand ready to defend us," said Fiedorek.
In his devotional article, Reyes writes that he interviewed a former World War II prisoner of war and friend who indicated that the phrase has been credited to Father William Cummings.
Father Cummings was a civilian missionary Catholic priest in the Philippines and the phrase was coined during the Japanese attack at Corregidor, Reyes writes.
He explains, "During the siege, Cummings had noticed non-Catholics were attending his services. Some he knew were not Catholic, some were not religious and some were even known atheists.
"Life-and-death experiences prompt a reality check. Even the strongest of beliefs can change, and, I may add, can go both ways – people can be drawn to or away from 'faith.' With the pending surrender of allied forces to the Japanese, Cummings uttered the famous phrase 'There is no such thing as an atheist in a fox hole.'"
In an American Legion Program broadcast from the White House on Feb. 7, 1954, Eisenhower used the expression during in his remarks.
Reyes' devotional article: 'No atheists in foxholes': Chaplains gave all in World War II.