Mention of the Bible makes most of us think “Christianity” – merely one religion out of many. But conservative Christians would have you believe no Bible = no religion. This is all part of a larger landscape of religious privilege that requires that for there to be morality one must have Christianity, as though the world existed for tens of thousands of years in sinful chaos, without law, without any evidence of ethics or human decency. The myth is that Christianity is in some way essential, an endangered species requiring special protections lest society collapse.
Fundamentalist Christianity has infiltrated our society on a number of levels, from local to federal government to all branches of the military, but in particular, the Air Force, which seems to have become a hotbed of Christian extremism. So the possibility that the Bible would no longer be on the Air Force checklist of items (a list of some 1200 items) in lodging facilities on its bases has conservative Christians in an uproar. A new checklist will take effect on October 1.
How can this be? Surely this must be a sign of the End Times? No, it’s just those nasty atheists. And good fundamentalist American soldiers know how to deal with the atheists who do very much exist in foxholes.
CBN alerts the faithful that “The move comes in response to a complaint filed from the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers (MAAF) that the presence of Bibles was ‘special privilege for Christianity.’
You can almost hear those prayers for breast cancer coming your way, can’t you atheists and freethinkers? Maybe prostate cancer will be next. It doesn’t really matter that the books are placed there by Gideons “at no cost to the government” – the point is that you can’t check into a hotel room without being confronted by a Bible that is required to be there by the U.S. Air Force.
The MAAF, CBN reports, “said their goal is to fight ‘insensitive practices that illegally promote religion over non-religion within the military or unethically discriminate against minority religions or differing beliefs.’” Insensitive is a good term for it. The Air Force, like the government, must not “establish” one religion over all others and that seems to be precisely what the Air Force in particular is trying to do. The litany of Air Force sins against First Amendment rights is a long one, as a perusal of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation’s (MRFF) archives demonstrates.
Of course you can’t have a battle over Christian privilege without the Blaze, home of David Barton’s BFF Glenn Beck. Billy Hallowell at The Blaze point out that “the Air Force will be removing the requirementthat Bibles be placed in on-based rooms. Whether those who prepare these rooms will follow suite — that is yet to be seen.”
But even the possibility that Bibles might not be there has got the war drums beating.
According to One News Now, Dr. Gordon Klingenschmitt, a former Navy chaplain and the head of The Pray In Jesus Name Project, the guy who got kicked out of the Navy for using his position to promote political causes, the guy who wants Israel to have its fantasy borders of 1500 BCE (why ever not would the Bronze Age be relevant to the 21st century???), and who once issued a Fatwah against MRFF’s Mikey Weinstein and Americans United’s Barry Lynn, is not a happy camper.
Rather than making a move to create a non-discriminatory environment, Klingenschmitt believes the Air Force is merely bowing to the demands of the MAAF, “among other atheist groups”:
“The Air Force is apparently complicit to this. I don‘t know if they’re removing the Bibles, but at least they’re removing [them] from the checklists, [the result being that] whoever cleans the rooms is no longer required to check whether the Bible is in place,” he explained. ”So if somebody steals one of those Bibles or if they’re confiscated by atheist complainers or put in the trash, then sadly Christian people will not have access to read the Bible at night.”
At least he didn’t bring up the Bronze Age or issue a Fatwah. And neither One News Now nor The Blaze will bring up Klingenschmitt’s bizarrely inappropriate behavior.
The claim made by “Bible supporters” (an interesting term don’t you think?) that Air Force officials are bowing to political pressure to create a “religion-free” zone is not supported by the facts. A Bible-free zone would be more accurate. After all, Qur’ans and Avestas and other holy books aren’t on the Air Force checklist of required items, are they? It is the Bible that has attained a place of privilege in the Air Force, not some other holy book. Religion is quite possible without the Bible, unimaginable as it might be to fundamentalists.
And really, what is to prevent the devout Air Force Christians from popping open their own copy of the Bible? Does Klingenschmitt really mean to imply that devout Christians don’t have their own copies of their holy scripture? They have to rely on the Gideon Bible? He certainly doesn’t care that followers of other religions don’t have their holy books handy in the same hotel rooms. It’s always those poor oppressed Christians!
Simply put, if the Bible is going to be on the Air Force checklist, then too should be the Qur’an and every other holy text and to be fair, probably some unholy texts as well. This is not about religion as much as it is about Christian privilege.
Interestingly, a poll on The Blaze shows readers overwhelmingly in favor of the Air Force response and a comment on OneNewsNow succinctly and accurately dissects the problem: “Once again, Christians mistake removing a special privilege with oppression.” It is difficult to imagine announcement that Qur’ans would be removed from lodging facilities would provoke complaints from these same sources that an attempt was being made to create a “religion free” zone. On the contrary, there would be dancing in the streets.