Copyright 1992 Freethought Today
Reprinted with permission
MILITARY ASKED TO HALT BIBLE BUYING
The Freedom From Religion Foundation has asked the Pentagon and two
Colorado military institutes to stop buying bibles with tax dollars.
Last year, according to an investigation by Steve Rabey, religion
editor of the Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph, the Colorado
Springs-based International Bible Society alone sold $200,000 worth of
bibles to the military.
The society says it has supplied bibles to the military since the War
The Foundation wrote Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, as well as Fort
Carson and the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, to complain not
only about the purchase of bibles, but the placement of military
insignias on bibles.
"The U.S. government has no business purchasing bibles, much less
placing its imprimatur on them," wrote the Foundation.
Attorney Robert R. Tiernan, a Foundation member from Denver who is
litigating the Foundations lawsuit against the Ten Commandments
monument at the state capitol, has requested the commanding general at
Fort Carson and the superintendent of the U.S. Air Force Academy to
return the bibles and ensure that the money is refunded to the
"The United States Air Force and the United States Army are entrusted
to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution," Tiernan wrote. "The First
Amendment to the Constitution mandates the separation of church and
state. It prohibits the use of taxpayer money to foster or support
religion. It also prohibits government endorsement of religion or
The Foundation originally became aware of this practice when a Colorado
Springs Foundation member sent a clipping of another article by Steven
Rabey appearing in the local newspaper. The article reported that the
University of Colorado had refused a case of 96 bibles imprinted with
the Colorado University logo, which were shipped as a gift to coach
Bill McCartney. McCartney has been reprimanded by university officials
for involving the University of Colorado in his right-wing religious
crusades, including his endorsement of an anti-gay civil rights
The bible society defended its actions by pointing out it regularly
produces custom-imprinted bibles for chaplains at the U.S. Air Force
Academy and Fort Carson.
Upon learning this, the Foundation wrote immediate letters of
complaint: "The University of Colorado properly refused bibles
imprinted with its logo," the Foundation pointed out to military
officials. "The U.S. military can do no less."
In reply, Joseph W. Purka, director of Public Affairs at the Department
of the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado, admitted: "the Academy did
receive a donation of several hundred imprinted bibles from the
International Bible Society when the company moved to Colorado Springs
The "pew Bibles ... have the Academy crest imprinted on the cover"
identifying them as "Academy property," Purka wrote.
Rabey's follow-up article pointed out that Gen. Colin Powell,
chairperson of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, praised the bible society
during the Gulf War in an August 1991 letter to the society.
"The Bibles you distributed [at taxpayers' expense] to our men and
women in uniform were a testament to the spiritual need that must be
met on the battlefield. If they helped only one soldier survive the
searing sands of Saudi Arabia, then I am thankful that need was
Rabey's report made the national wire, resulting in a number of phone
calls from irate Christian military personnel to the Foundation
From: Freethought Today (November 1992) PO Box 750, Madison WI 53701