Lankford Wants Missing Bibles Explanation

Senator James Lankford and Rep. J. Randy Forbes (VA-04), Co-Chairmen of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, sent a letter Thursday to the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, seeking answers as to why Bibles have been removed from Missing Man Table displays at multiple Veterans Affairs (VA) clinics around the country, including in Youngstown and Akron, Ohio and Houston, Texas.

“We have been informed that Bibles as part of Missing Man Table displays have been removed at Veterans Affairs (VA) clinics in Youngstown and Akron, Ohio and Houston, Texas, as well as at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base,” write Lankford and Forbes. “It is our understanding that the individual facility directors at the three VA clinics made the decision to remove the Bibles following complaints issued by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, and that the November 7, 2014 Guidance on Religious Exercise and Expression in VA Facilities and Property Under the Charge and Control of VA was used to justify the removal…We request an explanation as to why the Bibles were removed from the three VA facilities, as well as any policy that will be applied going forward, including a summary of who will be responsible for implementing it.”

Since 1979, our nation has commemorated National POW/MIA Recognition Day, on September 16, as a day for all Americans to remember, honor, and respect those who were prisoners of war and those who remain missing as a result of the nation’s conflicts. Another means of recognizing prisoners of war and those missing in action is the Missing Man Table and Honors Ceremony.  The Bible is traditionally included on the table as a symbol of the strength gained through faith to sustain us and those lost from our country, founded as one nation under God.

Senator Lankford and Congressman Forbes led 10 Senators, including Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK), and 31 Members of the House in sending this letter to Secretary McDonald, contending that the Bibles should remain in place and seeking an explanation as to why they were removed.

The Congressional Prayer Caucus is a bipartisan, bicameral caucus of nearly 100 lawmakers that work to ensure every American — of all faiths or no faith — is free to exercise their First Amendment right to the free exercise of their religion without fear of punishment from the government.

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