published Thursday, December 8th, 2011

Policy against Bibles at Walter Reed rightly dropped

In September, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., issued an absurd regulation forbidding visitors to bring patients Bibles and other religious material.

"No religious items (i.e. Bibles, reading material, and/or artifacts) are allowed to be given away or used during a visit," stated the memo.

Incredibly, that policy -- which violated the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of religion -- was left in effect for months. Only last week, when the policy became widely known, was it rescinded.

U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, took to the floor of the House of Representatives to denounce the ban on religious material at the military hospital. He called on President Barack Obama to dismiss the officials who implemented it.

Contacted by Fox News, the hospital said the policy would be rewritten to make its purpose "crystal clear."

"The instructions about the Bibles and reading material have been rescinded," said a public affairs officer at Walter Reed. "It will be written to articulate our initial intention, which was to respect religious and cultural practices of our patients."

The hospital placed on its website a statement apologizing for "any confusion that resulted from our policy."

We are glad the policy has been overturned. But we cannot imagine what someone was thinking by imposing a ban on religious materials being brought to wounded soldiers and others at Walter Reed.

As King told Fox News: "I don't think there's any excuse for it, and there's no talking it away. ... The idea that these soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines that have fought to defend our Constitution -- and that includes our First Amendment rights to religious liberty -- would be denied that religious liberty when they are lying in a hospital bed recovering from wounds incurred while defending that liberty is the most bitter and offensive type of an irony that I can think of."

He is sadly correct. Our troops' religious liberty deserves the highest protection.

11
Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
LibDem said...

Patients in hospital are a captive and vulnerable market for aggressive evangelicals. I didn't find the original policy statement, but I expect the hospital was trying to protect its patients.

Some years ago when I worked as a volunteer tutor in a state prison (not Tennessee), the policy was crystal clear: Absolutely zero religious material and/or discussion with inmates. ZERO. There was no confusion.

December 8, 2011 at 9:35 a.m.
conservative said...

I suspect some atheist in charge promoted the lie that the government was establishing a religion by allowing Bibles on government property. They are not mistaken or ignorant, they are lying. The first amendment is clear and easliy understood, even for a lieberal.

December 8, 2011 at 9:41 a.m.
LibDem said...

conservative, it's true that we 'lieberals' consider use of government facilities to promote religion to be improper support. But I expect in this case that protection of the patients was the primary consideration. Sometimes it's not just evil motivation.

December 8, 2011 at 10:06 a.m.
conservative said...

"Improper support", How so? Is it "improper" legally or morally? Would the sale of a Bible on government property be improper? Would prayer on government property be improper?

"protection of the patients", I agree that a religion should not be forced on a patient by a visitor but strongly object to other patients being denied their right to practice or share their faith through Scripture, with their visitor. A rule could easily be established to respect the wishes of both.

December 8, 2011 at 11:06 a.m.
lkeithlu said...

"protection of the patients", I agree that a religion should not be forced on a patient by a visitor but strongly object to other patients being denied their right to practice or share their faith through Scripture, with their visitor. A rule could easily be established to respect the wishes of both.

That was kind of the point, and why it was rescinded. It was meant to protect the patients from evangelyzing third parties, but was poorly constructed and could be interpreted that soldiers could not receive materials from their own families. What is ridiculous is people making this out to be more than it is, such as claiming that there is a "war" against Christianity, or that it was Obama's doing.

December 8, 2011 at 11:28 a.m.
LibDem said...

The policy has been revised and should now meet everyone's expectations.

"Improper support" is the use of facilities that belong to ALL the people to promote the religion of SOME of the people. This is both illegal and immoral.

December 8, 2011 at 12:06 p.m.
conservative said...

So, are you saying visitors sharing Scripture and prayer with a willing patient in this hospital is "improper support", "illegal" and "immoral" ?

December 8, 2011 at 12:47 p.m.
LibDem said...

No. I'm saying that a patient is a captive audience and not necessarily a willing audience. Walter Reed has admitted that their original directive was too tightly drawn and it's been revised, presumably to permit family and friends to address this subject. Fair enough.

In my opinion, when religion and government get together, they both lose. The idea of "visitors sharing Scripture and prayer" on me while I'm tethered by tubes is pretty scary.

December 8, 2011 at 1:34 p.m.
conservative said...

" The idea of "visitors sharing Scripture and prayer" on me while I'm tethered by tubes is pretty scary."

That's sad for I am very confident they would be praying for your recovery and not your demise. .

December 8, 2011 at 3:23 p.m.
LibDem said...

Thanks, but your confidence, not mine. Actually, when I go to hospital and people start praying, I'm pretty alarmed...particularly if it's my doctor.

December 8, 2011 at 4:30 p.m.
una61 said...

After having major surgery and feeling miserable in recovery, some "Holy Joe" came by with his bible asking if I was saved. I promptly told him to take a flying f*** at a rolling doughnut. He never returned.

December 8, 2011 at 6:01 p.m.
please login to post a comment

videos »         

photos »         

e-edition »

advertisement
advertisement

Find a Business

400 East 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403
General Information (423) 756-6900
Copyright, Permissions, Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Ethics policy - Copyright ©2014, Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.