The Navy is reportedly investigating a complaint a Bible display inside a hospital in Okinawa – the Navy's largest overseas – was used by sailors to convert Japanese citizens to Christianity.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Rear Adm. Paul Pearigen, the commander of Navy Medicine West, in San Diego, got the complaint from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation last week.
The nonprofit charges military leaders placed a Christian Bible on a Prisoner of War/Missing in Action display inside the hospital's public gallery March 26.
A placard on the "Missing Man" display told visitors in English and Japanese the religious book "represents the strength gained through faith to sustain those lost from our country, founded one nation under God," the Union-Tribune reported.
"The statement on the exhibit's placard is nothing more than an illegal, unconstitutional proselytization from an extremist, fundamentalist Christian sect," wrote lawyer Donald Rehkopf Jr. of Rochester, N.Y., who is representing the foundation.
"It ignores all followers of other religions and totally ignores all those who subscribe to no religion – all in blatant violation of (Department of Defense) and (Department of the Navy) regulations."
The Constitution bars religious tests for public offices — and Pentagon regulations forbid a command from endorsing any faith over others, the Union-Tribune reported.
"We reached out initially to the hospital at the beginning of the week, but they didn't take care of this," said Michael Weinstein, a former Air Force officer and the foundation's founder.
"This should've been simple. We've engaged many times on this issue everywhere, and it's taken care of quickly. Here, they translated a phrase into Japanese in order to proselytize the Japanese. This might've violated our treaty with Japan."
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