The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) condemned the blessing of an "official Bible" for the swearing-in of commanders of the newly created Space Force.
The group issued its statement after Washington National Cathedral held a ceremony to bless an “official” King James Bible on Sunday and tweeted that it “will be used to swear in all commanders of America’s newest military branch.”
A spokesperson for the cathedral told The Hill that the Bible, donated by the Museum of the Bible in Washington, will be used to swear in Gen. John Raymond as the first chief of space operations.
It was unclear if the Bible is to be used for every commander in the branch or just its top leaders, Military.com noted. But the ceremony included mentions of blessing Trump, Raymond and “all the men and women of the newly created United States Space Force, wherever they may go.”
Several people as well as the MRFF denounced the designation, saying officers are not usually required to use religious texts to take an oath of office and that the move could ostracize non-Christians. The MRFF has promised to take the matter to federal court in Northern Virginia if it cannot settle it through the Defense Department’s “administrative remedies.”
"The 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," a statement from the group said.
Mikey Weinstein, president and founder of MRFF, told Military.com that using the Bible goes against Air Force Instruction 1-1 that says leaders “must ensure their words and actions cannot reasonably be construed to be officially endorsing or disapproving of, or extending preferential treatment for any faith, belief, or absence of belief.”
The Defense Department referred questions to the Air Force.
"The department does not have guidance on the blessing of religious items; it is up to each service to determine that," a spokesperson said.
--This report was updated on Jan. 14 at 2:36 p.m.