A religious freedom group is condemning the blessing of a King James Bible last Sunday in a ceremony at the Washington National Cathedral. The Bible was used to swear in the commanders of the Space Force. Some are criticizing the ceremony as a violation of the separation of church and state.
The story goes that a Bible was blessed before Major General John William Raymond was sworn in as the first Chief of Space Operations. The Bible was then used during Gen. Raymond’s swearing-in, officiated by Vice-President Pence. As we know, the Space Force is the latest branch of the U.S. military. The Bible will be taken into space.
Rev. Hollerith issued a statement at the time. Who would expect a request of this nature to be rejected? A spokesman for the Cathedral confirmed that the Bible was used during the swearing-in ceremony. The Bible was donated by the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C.
“We have been asked to dedicate a new Bible that will be used next week when Major General John William Raymond will be sworn in as the first Chief of Space Operations,” Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, dean of Washington National Cathedral, said during the ceremony. “And, shortly thereafter, this Bible will be taken into space.”
The blessing was pretty standard stuff, to be honest. It acknowledged space as the final frontier.
“May this Bible guard and guide all those who purpose that the final frontier be a place where God will triumph over evil, where love will triumph over hate, and where life will triumph over death,” said the Right Rev. Carl Wright, the Episcopal Church’s bishop suffragan for the Armed Forces and Federal Ministries, as an Air Force chaplain held the Bible.
After the blessing, Hollerith welcomed visitors and described the cathedral as “a house of worship for all people.”
So far, so good, right? You’d think, but no. One group, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) released a statement. To say that the criticism is harsh is a vast understatement.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) condemns, in as full-throated a manner as is humanly possible, the shocking and repulsive display of only the most vile, exclusivist, fundamentalist Christian supremacy, dominance, triumphalism and exceptionalism which occurred at yesterday’s ‘blessing’, at the Washington National Cathedral, of a sectarian Christian bible which will apparently ‘be used to swear in all commanders of America’s newest military branch (ie. The United States Space Force).” MRFF noted with additional disgust and disdain the willing and all-too visible participation of a senior USAF officer, in formal uniform, during the travesty of this sectarian ceremony which tragically validates the villainy of unadulterated Christian privilege at DoD and its subordinate military branches. For the record, military commanders are NOT ever “sworn in” to their positions let alone with the usage of a Christian bible or other book of faith. And especially not in 2020!!
MRFF is currently receiving a multitude of new complaints from outraged DoD military and even civilian DoD personnel, as well as veterans, regarding this unmitigated, unconstitutional horror. MRFF will be lodging a formal complaint to Mark Esper, the Secretary of Defense. Further, MRFF will be assiduously assisting its clients to also expeditiously make formal Inspector General (IG) and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaints to the DoD chain of command hierarchy to stop this train-wreck disaster in its stinking tracks from ever even leaving the station.
If MRFF’s fervent attempts to exhaust all DoD administrative remedies to eliminate this fundamentalist Christian tyranny and oppression fail, MRFF will plan to stop this matter in Federal court in Northern Virginia. The utilization of a Christian bible to ’swear in’ commanders of the new Space Force or any other DoD branch at ANY level is completely violative of the bedrock Separation of Church and State mandate of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and also violates Clause 3, Article 6’s total prohibition of No Religious Test for any Federal Gov’t position. Additionally such blatantly scurrilous activity violates a slew of critical DoD directives, instructions and regulations.
Mikey Weinstein, Founder and President, MRFF
Christian tyranny? Yikes! We are a nation founded on Judeo-Christian principles. Our founding fathers were not Christian tyrants – some were Christians, some were atheists, and some were Christian Deists. They all worked together and included a separation of church and state in the Constitution. Does blessing a Bible for a swearing-in ceremony justify the charge of Christian tyranny? The Cathedral’s history is intertwined in American history. In 1907, the foundation stone was laid with President Theodore Roosevelt and a crowd of more than 20,000 looking on. The Cathedral receives no money from the federal government. There is even a piece of lunar rock in the Space Window on the south aisle of the Cathedral. President George H.W. Bush was present in 1990 when the “final finial” was placed.
Presidents and most lawmakers use the Bible during their swearing-in ceremonies. Recently lawmakers have used a Koran. Did anyone object to any of that? The main complaint seems to be that a uniformed officer was using the Bible and that officers are not typically sworn in. There are military chaplains, though, so I’m not so sure about the uniform in the complaint.
A Princeton professor weighed in on Twitter. He questioned the alleged exclusion of other religions by using the Bible.
MRFF is entitled to make any objections they wish to make, as are individuals in social media. It just seems a bit overblown in this instance.
It was my privilege to swear-in our Nation’s first @SpaceForceCSO, General Jay Raymond! After serving our country for over 35 years in the Air Force & overseeing American military operations in space, we’re honored to have General Raymond serve in the @SpaceForceDoD! pic.twitter.com/WSKzDGgnWc
— Mike Pence (@Mike_Pence) January 14, 2020