There is growing outrage among sailors and religious liberty advocates over a directive that calls for the removal of Bibles from lodges and hotels run on U.S. Navy bases. The directive comes after an atheist group filed a formal complaint earlier this year over the placement of Bibles in the rooms.
"The current direction is to remove all religious material from Navy Lodge guest rooms," read an email to a Navy chaplain from The Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM). "For those Navy Lodges with religious materials currently in guest rooms, the Navy Lodge General Manager will contact the Installation Chaplain's office who will provide guidance on the removal procedure disposition of these materials."
The American Family Association received an exclusive copy of a similar directive from NEXCOM, the organization that manages the lodges.
"The Navy Lodge General Manager should advise the Installation Commanding Officer of our intention to work through the chaplain's office to determine what installation policy is and the method to remove religious material currently in the guest rooms," read a directive approved by Michael Bockelman, the vice president of NEXCOM and the director of the Navy Lodge Program.
In other words, they've got to figure out a way to dispose of God's Word.
I contacted NEXCOM spokesperson Kathleen Martin hoping to get the inside scoop. Yes or no -- are Bibles being removed from Navy-run lodges? Martin dodged my question and to be quite frank, gave me the runaround. She refused, on numerous occasions, to explain the whereabouts of the lodge Bibles.
"Lodge managers are coordinating with base chaplains regarding the disposition of all religious material," she said.
Martin said the directive will impact about 40 Navy lodges around the world.
"We looked at our policy -- and realized there wasn't a consistent policy regarding Navy Lodges," she told me. "We decided we needed to have some consistency and be consistent with the Navy."
I figured I would try one more time. Yes or no -- will the Navy allow Bibles to be placed in Navy lodges? Martin refused to answer the question.
The order was hailed by the Freedom From Religious Foundation. The FFRF had filed a complaint with the military -- claiming the presence of the Bible "amounts to a government endorsement of that religious text."