Holman Bible Publishers, a subsidiary of LifeWay, the publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, will no longer be allowed to use the official U.S. armed forces branch emblems on their military Bibles.
Over the past few years, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) has probably received more complaints about these Bibles, which are displayed and sold in all the base exchanges and other stores on military bases, than any other single issue.
Here are a few photos of these Bibles, which, up until now, have sported the branch emblems of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines on both the boxes they come in and on the Bibles themselves.
In addition to the constitutional issue of allowing the use of official U.S. military emblems on any
Bible, these Holman military Bibles also contain a lengthy section of essays and other information promoting the Officers' Christian Fellowship (OCF), an organization of about 15,000 military officers who think the real duty of a military officer is to raise up “a spiritually transformed military, with ambassadors for Christ in uniform, empowered by the Holy Spirit.” This is the organization that has produced such fine Christian officers as Air Force Major Jonathan C. Dowty
, a.k.a. the Christian Fighter Pilot, who became a member of the OCF while at the Air Force Academy and later went on to be an OCF team leader at Edwards Air Force Base.
The Bibles also contain a bogus quote from George Washington, created by taking a paragraph of Washington's 1783 circular letter to the governors of the states at the end of the Revolutionary War and altering it to turn into a prayer in the name of Jesus Christ.
Here's the press release from MRFF about our win in getting all four branches of the military to revoke their permission allowing LifeWay to use the branch emblems on their Holman Bibles.
MRFF Pressure Halts “Military Bible” Authorization by All Four Military Branches
In clear violation of the U.S. Constitution,
USMC, Air Force, Army, Navy insignia were used
to promote Southern Baptist Convention Bible
ALBUQUERQUE, NM – Following efforts by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), all four branches of the U.S. Military have revoked their approval of the Military series of Holman Christian Standard Bibles (HCSB). The Holman Bible is a modern English, Baptist translation that was completed in 2004 and is published by LifeWay Christian Resources’ Holman Bible Publishers, a subsidiary of the Evangelical fundamentalist Southern Baptist Bible Convention. These editions were prominently emblazoned with exact replicas of the trademarked emblems of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force.
MRFF is a civil rights organization representing over 28,000 members of the armed services and veterans (96% of whom are Christian). As of June, 2011, MRFF had been contacted by nearly 2,000 servicemembers who witnessed the Bibles being conspicuously featured on military Exchange shelves and storefronts across the globe. This raised fears among military personnel that, in the words of an anonymous U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate, it was “a big step towards establishing the Holman Christian Standard Bible as the official religious text of the military services of the United States.”
“SHOCKING CONSTITUTIONAL VIOLATION”: READ THE LETTER WRITTEN TO MRFF BY AN AGGRIEVED, ANONYMOUS USAF JUDGE ADVOCATE AND FOUNDATION CLIENT
The dangerous nature of an official endorsement of Bibles by the U.S. Military is made clear by the fact that the Holman translation does not include those texts purged from the Bible during the Protestant Reformation which are still included in Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox editions of the Holy Bible.
Entitled “The Soldier’s Bible,” “Sailor’s Bible,” “Marine’s Bible,” and “Airman’s Bible,” respectively, the HSBC Bibles contained material merging Evangelical symbolism and theology with national and military iconography and anthems. Each HCSB Military Bible also contained “quotations, prayers, and inspiration” from figures ranging from George Washington and President George W. Bush to various historical figures from each of the respective branches of the U.S. Armed Services.
READ THE CEASE AND DESIST LETTER SENT BY MRFF LEGAL COUNSEL AND THE RESPONSES FROM THE MILITARY
Following a request filed by MRFF’s outside legal counsel under the Freedom of Information Act, the foundation discovered that the U.S. Military had given authorization to LifeWay allowing for reproduction of the emblems, an action that stood in direct violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Upon investigation, each branch of the military responded in succession with the notification that permission to use each branch’s imagery had been revoked.
“Once again our foundation has decisively beaten back those who would see the wall separating church and state reduced to rubble,” said Mikey Weinstein, President and Founder of MRFF. “The very fact that the Pentagon — or ‘Pentacostal-gon’ — had allowed for the insignias of the Navy, Army, Marine Corps, and Air Force to be used for such a clearly Evangelical fundamentalist agenda should sicken anyone with any inkling of respect for the ‘sacred’ principle of religious freedom as enshrined by the foundational documents of our nation, namely the U.S. Constitution.”