For Immediate Release
Merrill Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 105, firstname.lastname@example.org
Monica Miller, 202-238-9088 ext. 120, email@example.com
(Washington, D.C., Aug. 4, 2014)—The American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center sent a letter to federal officials with the U.S. General Services Administration and the National Guard concerning the government’s display and distribution of Gideon Bibles in a recruitment center in St. Louis, Missouri.
“Numerous cases have ruled that when the government offers biblical literature, even if done indirectly, it is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion,” said Monica Miller, an attorney with the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.
The General Services Administration building, which houses a recruitment center for the National Guard as well as other military offices, exhibited and offered camouflage-covered Bibles free of charge to recruits enlisting in the National Guard. The Bibles were donated by the Gideons, an evangelical Christian organization, and contained the New Testament as well as the Old Testament books of Psalms and Proverbs. The letter was sent on behalf of an anonymous recruit who felt that the government was impermissibly endorsing the Bibles and coercing recruits to take them.
“Throughout the recruitment process, soldiers endure stressful conditions, making them susceptible to the pressures of conformity,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “The U.S. Armed Forces should respect the belief or nonbelief of all recruits and should not pressure them to support a particular religion.”
The letter demands that the government immediately cease its practice of offering Bibles to National Guard recruits and remove any biblical literature from its possession.
A copy of the letter can be viewed here.
Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., the American Humanist Association (AHA) works to protect the rights of humanists, atheists, and other non-religious Americans. The AHA advances the ethical and life-affirming philosophy of humanism, which—without beliefs in any gods or other supernatural forces—encourages individuals to live informed and meaningful lives that aspire to the greater good of humanity.