Ohio VA Removes Bible From POW 'Missing Man Table' After Secular Group Complains

Missing Man Table
A Missing Man Table at Akron, Ohio, before and after a complaint led to the removal of a Bible. |

A Veterans Administration clinic in Ohio recently removed a Bible from a POW/MIA display after a military church and state watchdog group protested its presence.

The Akron-based facility removed the Bible from the display after being contacted by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.

Mikey Weinstein, founder and president of the MRFF, told The Christian Post that his organization became aware of the Bible at the display after they were contacted by 11 veterans of diverse faiths who were receiving treatment at the clinic.

"The New Testament only represents one particular perspective and it doesn't honor all veterans and all POWs and MIAs," said Weinstein, who noted that seven of the 11 veterans were Christian.

"Imagine if you put the Quran up there. There would be blood in the streets. What if you put the Book of Satan or the Book of Mormon or you put any other book?"

Weinstein also told CP that he believes the POW/MIA display needs something that "will honor all veterans equally," saying that to remove the Bible was "equalization" not "persecution."

"The VA is not a private separate little hospital unit. It's an organ of the United States government and in this country we separate, with our wonderful Constitution, church and state," continued Weinstein.

At issue for the MRFF and the veterans it represented at the Akron clinic was the "Missing Man Table," a display put up to remember American soldiers who are missing in action or prisoners of war.

According to the National League of POW/MIA Families, these displays feature various symbols including a white table cloth, a red rose, a yellow ribbon, a pinch of salt, and a slice of lemon.

They also, as noted by the League's website, can include a Bible, which "represents the strength gained through faith to sustain us and those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God."

The Akron clinic removed the Bible and a framed Bible verse from the display following the MRFF's complaint, emailing Weinstein to confirm their removal.

Ron Crews, a retired chaplain who serves as executive director for the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, told CP that he was "disappointed" by the removal of the Bible.

"The table has been part of military tradition for many decades. When I was on active duty we often had such a table at special events," said Crews.

"There were precise elements for the table and a Bible was included to reflect the faith of the missing person. I have read the accounts of many former POWs and all spoke of how faith sustained them."

Crews also told CP that he felt "just because something offends does not mean that it has to be removed."

"At some point we have to take a stand for all those who do find comfort and strength in their faith. A Bible on the Missing Man Table is a small way to acknowledge their sacrifice," added Crews.

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