On March 14 Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh told members of the House Armed Services committee that there was no war on religious liberty.
“The single biggest frustration I’ve had in this job is the perception that somehow there is religious persecution inside the United States Air Force,” the general told lawmakers. “It is not true.”
If that’s true, perhaps Gen. Welsh could explain why a Bible was removed from a POW/MIA Missing Man Table at Patrick Air Force Base in Florida. The removal of the Good Book was first reported by the Gannett-owned newspaper Florida Today.
Base officials confirmed to Fox News Monday that the entire Missing Man Table display had been removed from a dining hall because of the Bible. A press statement said the inclusion of the Bible ignited “controversy and division.”
Missing Man Tables are a long honored military tradition. The tables serve as a reminder of the plight of brave Americans who are missing in action or who are being held prisoner of war. The display includes a white table cloth setting with an inverted glass, a plate with lemon and salt, a single rose, a candle and a Bible.
Each item is an integral part of the Missing Man Table & Honors Ceremony, according to the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia.
“The Bible represents the strength gained through faith in our country, founded as one nation under god, to sustain those lost from our midst,” the official ceremony document states.
However, someone at Patrick Air Force Base objected to the Bible’s placement on the table.
The following is the Air Force’s explanation of what happened:
"The 45th Space Wing deeply desires to honor America's Prisoners and War (POW) and Missing in Action (MIA) personnel. Unfortunately, the Bible's presence or absence on the table at the Riverside Dining Facility ignited controversy and division, distracting from the table's primary purpose of honoring POWs/MIAs. Consequently, we temporarily replaced the table with the POW/MIA flag in an effort to show our continued support of these heroes while seeking an acceptable solution to the controversy. After consultation with several relevant organizations, we now intend to re-introduce the POW/MIA table in a manner inclusive of all POWs/MIAs as well as Americans everywhere."