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Jun 15 2012

Fox News and Beck Mad at MRFF

I’m sure it will come as no surprise that Fox News and Glenn Beck’s The Blaze website are both hopping mad at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation for pressuring the Pentagon to pull the right to produce and sell Bibles carrying the official emblems of the four branches of the armed services. Beck’s site starts with a lie right in the headline:

ATHEIST GROUP DEMANDS REMOVAL OF SELECT MILITARY BIBLES & CALLS THEM A ‘THREAT TO NATIONAL SECURITY’

MRFF is not an atheist group (not that it should matter; even if it was, that would have no bearing on whether they’re right or wrong on any issue). Many of its board members and employees are religious; some are even ordained ministers. And the vast majority of soldiers it has represented are Christian. This is just dishonest spin; Beck’s people know that their followers despise atheists, so applying that label makes them automatically oppose anything the group says.

In addition to protesting the Bibles that have now been banned, the MRFF, seeing a ripe opportunity to further its anti-Bible activism, is now demanding that the remaining books be removed from base exchanges (stores). The atheists claim that the books, which have official branch insignias on them, pose a risk to U.S. national security.

And there’s the same lie, along with this new one that MRFF is “anti-Bible.” But the article they link to, from Todd Starnes at Fox News, makes clear that MRFF has no problem at all with selling Bibles at PXs and on military bases, as long as they don’t carry the official insignia of the armed forces:

Weinstein said his organization had absolutely no problem with regular Bibles being sold at base stores, but he said the military-themed Bibles were in violation of the law.

“The Bible by itself is fine to be sold,” Weinstein told Fox News Radio. But he said they also want the remaining stock removed from base stores.

“Replace those Bibles with those that don’t have the emblems,” he said.

And then there’s the usual hypocrisy from the wingnuts:

Ron Crews, executive director of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, told Fox News he was extremely disappointed in the decision to remove the military edition Bibles from exchange stores — and called the move “cowardly.”

“These Bibles cost the Department of Defense nothing, and their presence is legally legitimate,” Crews said. “Therefore, no reason exists for the DoD to retreat in the face of the small anti-religious group that demanded removal of the Bibles.”

Imagine for a moment that the Pentagon licensed a company to sell copies of the Quran with the official emblems of the service branches on them. MRFF would still be absolutely opposed to it, but these hypocrites would suddenly be up in arms about it.

18 comments

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  1. 1
    Tualha

    The atheists claim that the books, which have official branch insignias on them, pose a risk to U.S. national security.

    Also a lie? Didn’t see anything about that in earlier stories, and I can’t imagine on what basis the MRFF would make such a claim.

  2. 2
    Reginald Selkirk

    Personally, I consider theocracy to be a threat to U.S. national security.

  3. 3
    Phillip IV

    MRFF is not an atheist group

    For Beck and FoxNews, Christianity is context-dependent. In the context of an “America is overwhelmingly Christian” argument, anyone professing some sort of belief in the possibly existence of a higher being counts as Christian. In the context of an “Anti-Christian persecution” argument, anyone who isn’t a fundamentalist Evangelical counts as an atheist. Go figure.

    Tualha @ #1:

    Also a lie? Didn’t see anything about that in earlier stories, and I can’t imagine on what basis the MRFF would make such a claim.

    More a misrepresentation than an actual lie. On a standing basis the MRFF argues, quite correctly so, that any failure to enforce the state/church separation in the military ultimately poses a risk to U.S. national security by helping Islamists to portray U.S. armed forces as anti-Islam crusaders, a valuable recruitment tool for them. Imagine how a copy of “The Airman’s Bible”, proudly emblazoned with the Air Force logo, must appear to a Muslim whose town or village suffered collateral damage in an U.S. airstrike.

  4. 4
    Doug Little

    And the Blaze delivers yet again for thoughtful discussion on a topic. The comments there are particularly hate filled today. One chap quite correctly pointed our the facts to the horde over there and they just doubled down on the stupid. I would be ashamed if I worked for that publication knowing the quality of visitors that routinely visit there.

  5. 5
    cptdoom

    MRFF is not an atheist group… Many of its board members and employees are religious; some are even ordained ministers.

    This is such an important point. From what I read in legitimate news articles, one of the main arguments against the bibles was that they favored one version of Christianity over another. In fact, the bibles were blasphemous to Roman Catholics.

  6. 6
    plutosdad

    Isn’t Glenn Beck a Mormon? You’d think he’d care that the only “official” Bible is the Protestant Bible. Catholics and Mormons don’t get official holy books.

  7. 7
    d cwilson

    I’m actually starting to miss the days when Beck was still relevant.

    Okay, what I really miss is Jon Stewart’s impersonation of Beck, but still.

  8. 8
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    Okay, reading through the comments on the Blaze site with the story linked I came across this post :

    Vladia
    Posted on June 14, 2012 at 5:47am

    (Didn’t read through the whole thread; forgive me if I’m repeating already stated points. I feel compelled to throw my two cents worth in.)

    “But the Military Religious Freedom Foundation complained that the Bibles were an official endorsement by the U.S. Military.”

    So?

    “They alleged the Bibles … violated the U.S. Constitution”

    Hardly.

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

    The U.S. Military is not Congress, and selling a Bible with an armed services logo, or even endorsing a Bible, is not making a law. Why is this so difficult for the freedom-FROM-religion types to understand? (Rhetorical question.) They always seem to conveniently forget about the Aitken Bible, endorsed and recommended by Congress itself in 1782.

    Setting aside the rest of Vladia’s comment there – I suspect the Aitken Bible thing is one of Barton’s lies I must admit I think Vladia has a point on the whole Congress interpretation thing.

    The US military isn’t Congress, offering Bibles for purchase isn’t making a law.

    Prohibiting or dictating what’s on the cover of other people’s books seems like interfering with people’s right to freedom of expression and religion doesn’t it?

    Who are we to tell them they can’t have their books with whatever covers they choose and given that purchase of bibles is voluntary and not compulsory; isn’t it a matter of freedom and personal choice not government decree?

    If we can tell them they cannot have the covers they want (artistic freedom anyone?) on their chosen reading matter then aren’t we in danger of having that turned around and having them tell us we mustn’t have books with the covers of our choice?

    So, yeah, how do you answer those points? Seems like there’s a good case there to me even though I’m no fan of these Bibles at all.

    FWIW. I’m not Christian or at all religious but I would defend their rights to have and read whatever they choose just as I’d defend everyone and anyones rights to freedom of religion and expression including atheists.

  9. 9
    iangould

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

    The U.S. Military is not Congress, and selling a Bible with an armed services logo, or even endorsing a Bible, is not making a law.”

    You know burning down synagogues isn’t “makihg a law” either.

    Just saying,

  10. 10
    iangould

    “Prohibiting or dictating what’s on the cover of other people’s books seems like interfering with people’s right to freedom of expression and religion doesn’t it?”

    Try putting a corporate logo on a book cover without their permission.

  11. 11
    John Phillips, FCD

    StevoR, the military is an arm of and under the control of the government, thus its allowing its insignia to be used can be seen as an explicit endorsement of the sect using their insignia. Why do you think this xianist sect want it on there in the first place. It is the exact same legal argument used against Jessiac Ahlquist’s school over the prayer banner. I.e. a public school, like the military, is a de facto arm of the government, so when that school allowed the hanging of the prayer banner, it was, as the judge found, violating the church/state separation part of the constitution.

  12. 12
    John Phillips, FCD

    oops, Jessica not Jessiac :/

  13. 13
    DaveL

    SteveO, if the First Amendment is to have any meaning at all, then it cannot allow any organ of the government to promote a religious viewpoint, or interfere with free exercise of religion. Otherwise it would be trivially bypassed by the simple expedient of Congress creating intermediary agencies to carry out the actual establishment (and suppression of free speech, and of the freedom to assemble, etc.). In fact, they would be free to literally re-create Orwell’s Ministry of Love.

  14. 14
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @9.iangould :

    You know burning down synagogues isn’t “makihg a law” either. Just saying,

    No, that’d be an anti-Semitic hate crime and very much against the law.

    Also a totally irrelevant non-sequiteur. Who is saying that should be done or has anything to do with this?

    @10. iangould :

    Try putting a corporate logo on a book cover without their permission.

    No thanks – but again that’s a totally separate issue & thus non-sequiteur fallacy. Its not a question of copyright here.

  15. 15
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    D’oh!Blockquote fial, sorry. That’s :

    @@9.iangould :

    You know burning down synagogues isn’t “makihg a law” either. Just saying,

    No, that’d be an anti-Semitic hate crime and very much against the law.

    Also is that some sort of implied threat? Not cool.

  16. 16
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @ John Phillips, FCD :

    StevoR, the military is an arm of and under the control of the government, thus its allowing its insignia to be used can be seen as an explicit endorsement of the sect using their insignia. Why do you think this xianist sect want it on there in the first place. It is the exact same legal argument used against Jessiac Ahlquist’s school over the prayer banner. I.e. a public school, like the military, is a de facto arm of the government, so when that school allowed the hanging of the prayer banner, it was, as the judge found, violating the church/state separation part of the constitution.

    Maybe.

    But that still isn’t what the US Constitution expressly says.

    “Percieved as” versus strict letter of Law / Constitution. Hmm .. IANAL but .. different things surely?

    @13. DaveL :

    SteveO ..,

    StevoR actually, not that I’m one to talk when it comes to typos I know but still.

    .. if the First Amendment is to have any meaning at all, then it cannot allow any organ of the government to promote a religious viewpoint, or interfere with free exercise of religion.

    That last part there. Free excercise of religion. Isn’t this decision kinda violating that given we’re telling a religion what symbols they can use on the book covers?

    The US military, to me, anyhow doesn’t seem to be promoting a religion here by merely allowing its logo to be used on the cover – provided they’d allow the same logo to be carried by say the Torah or the Buddha’s book or the Dawkin’s God delusion or whatever other book asked for it. Its like a printer – saying they published something doesn’t necessarily mean they endorse it’s contents.

    Otherwise it would be trivially bypassed by the simple expedient of Congress creating intermediary agencies to carry out the actual establishment (and suppression of free speech, and of the freedom to assemble, etc.). In fact, they would be free to literally re-create Orwell’s Ministry of Love.

    Maybe so but that seems to be a separate hypothetcial situation that isn’t in play here.

  17. 17
    Chris from Europe

    Also a totally irrelevant non-sequiteur.[sic]

    In both cases: No, it’s not. The executive is bound by the law. As Congress is restricted by the First Amendment, any such actions cannot be legal.

    For something to be a (hate) crime and an attorney to charge the criminal, there has to be a law.

    Also is that some sort of implied threat? Not cool.

    No, it’s obviously not, you tool.

  18. 18
    democommie

    ““These Bibles cost the Department of Defense nothing, and their presence is legally legitimate,””

    Except, of course, for the revenue from licensing fees. I’m all for the U.S. military allowing religious groups to have the freedom to use PX’s for a bully pulpit–so long as ALL religious groups are allowed to do so.

    “I would be ashamed if I worked for that publication knowing the quality of visitors that routinely visit there.”

    If you work for that rag, your gag reflex is already disabled.

  1. 19
    Glenn Beck's "The Blaze" disorts the facts - Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Conservatives, Liberals, Third Parties, Left-Wing, Right-Wing, Congress, President - City-Data Forum

    [...] Beck's "The Blaze" disorts the facts Fox News and Beck Mad at MRFF | Dispatches from the Culture Wars An example of just how trustworthy The Blaze [...]

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