Air Force Major removes Bible from desk, Military groups in contention

A debate on religious freedom among different military groups was recently sparked after Maj. Steve Lewis, an officer stationed at Colorado's Peterson Air Force Base, was recently forced to remove an open Bible on his desk in order to avoid making people uncomfortable or to start some sort of controversy. The desk of Maj. Lewis is situated in an open office environment where many members of the Air Force gather and meet during unit training assemblies.

(Reuters/Jeffrey Dubinsky)A community member holds up a Bible during a vigil in memory of Alton Sterling, who was shot dead by police, at the Triple S Food Mart in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S.A., July 6, 2016.

Mikey Weinstein recently made a statement declaring that Maj. Lewis' Bible is a "religious display to promote to others his Christian faith" and that putting it on his desk is "a disastrous travesty."

Responding to this, Todd Starnes, of Todd's American Dispatch, indicated that Weinstein "... earns a paycheck by trying to eradicate Christianity from the Armed Forces."

He also started questioning the bravery and commitment of those soldiers that are supposedly threatened by the presence of the Bible 

"[If they] are terrified of a Bible — how in the world will they be able to muster the courage to fight the enemy?" Starnes said. 

Peterson Air Force Base officials are now reviewing whether Maj. Lewis' Bible was an understandable accommodation of the religious belief of the officer or if it was already in violation of the separation of church and state. 

"The basic premise of the Air Force instruction [on religious freedom], grounded in Department of Defense policy, grounded in law is, people have an inherent right to free exercise of religion within boundaries," said Col. Damon Feltman, 310th Space Wing commander, as quoted by Colorado Springs Independent.  

"At the same time, people have freedom to be left alone. It's finding that right balance. The challenge of the commander is to be sure both people are treated fairly," he continued.