Policy against Bibles at Walter Reed rightly dropped

Policy against Bibles at Walter Reed rightly dropped

December 8th, 2011 in Opinion Free Press

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 Only last week, when the policy became widely known, was it rescinded.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"The instructions about the Bibles and reading material have been rescinded," said a public affairs officer at Walter Reed.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.