Air Force veteran sues VA hospital over Bible display

Air Force veteran sues VA hospital over Bible display

A U.S. Air Force veteran filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday arguing a Bible on display at a New Hampshire veterans hospital violates the First Amendment, according to The Associated Press.

James Chamberlain claimed in the lawsuit that the Bible, which is part of a display at the Manchester VA Medical Center, violates the amendment’s establishment clause. Chamberlain, himself a Christian, argued in the lawsuit that the table should not single out any one faith, according to the AP.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Bible in question was carried by a prisoner of war during World War II and is part of the hospital’s Missing Man Table, which commemorates prisoners of war and missing-in-action veterans, according to the news service.

The hospital had initially removed the Bible in January in response to a complaint from another group, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFR), which cited objections from over a dozen patients, but the Bible was replaced in the display in February.

A Department of Veterans Affairs spokesperson told the AP the hospital received a series of complaints from veterans and others in response to its removal, leading officials to restore the Bible and apologize for its removal. The spokesman called the display “a secular tribute to America’s POW/MIA community,” according to the AP.

"This lawsuit – backed by a group known for questionable practices and unsuccessful lawsuits – is nothing more than an attempt to force VA into censoring a show of respect for America’s POW/MIA community,” VA spokesman Curt Cashour told the AP, referencing the MRFR. “Make no mistake: VA will not be bullied on this issue.”