A group fighting to keep the Bible part of a POW/MIA display at the Manchester VA Medical Center reacted coolly on Thursday to the suggestion the book be replaced with a multi-religion “Book of Faith.”
Comments from the Texas-based First Liberty Institute show that it may be difficult to find a compromise in the 2-year-long legal dispute over the Bible’s inclusion in the POW/MIA display in the lobby at the Manchester VA Medical Center.
Veterans and an organization suing the VA said that the Book of Faith contains spiritual writings and prayers from seven faith groups — — Protestant, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu.
But Hiram Sasser, a lawyer for First Liberty, said the Bible was donated by Herman Streitburger, a now deceased Bedford resident and World War II combat veteran who was imprisoned in a German prisoner of war camp.
The Bible is a symbol of the faith that helped Streitburger endure a German POW camp, Sasser said.
“I don’t think anyone has the stomach to dishonor his service and the symbol of his faith,” Sasser said.
First Liberty is a legal organization that represents the Northeast POW/MIA Network. It has intervened on behalf of the VA in the 2019 case brought by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.
The Foundation wants the Bible removed.
In a filing submitted on Monday in U.S. District Court in Concord, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation amended its initial lawsuit and suggested the Book of Faith replace the Bible.
It noted the Book of Faith resolved a similar complaint at the F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyo., when objections surfaced over a Bible on a POW/MIA table in the base dining facility.
“The placement of the Christian Bible in a locked case on the POW/MIA table puts forth the Christian beliefs of some at the expense of the beliefs of non‐Christians,” reads the amended lawsuit, filed by Dover lawyer Lawrence Vogelman.