Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
The Navy Is Investigating The Placement Of A Bible At A Military Hospital In Japan
The Navy is investigating allegations that sailors in Okinawa attempted to unlawfully convert Japanese citizens to Christianity through a public display inside a military hospital.
On Friday, Rear Adm. Paul D. Pearigen, commander of San Diego-based Navy Medicine West, ordered an investigation into U.S. Naval Hospital Okinawa, the Navy’s largest overseas hospital.
Pearigen is responding to a seven-page complaint filed with his command Thursday by the nonprofit Military Religious Freedom Foundation on behalf of 26 service members or Department of Defense civilian employees and their families in Okinawa.
They allege that military leaders on March 26 placed a Christian Bible on a Prisoner of War/ Missing in Action display inside the hospital’s public gallery.
A placard on the “Missing Man” display told visitors in English and Japanese that the religious book “represents the strength gained through faith to sustain those lost from our country, founded one nation under God.”
“The statement on the exhibit’s placard is nothing more than an illegal, unconstitutional proselytization from an extremist, fundamentalist Christian sect. 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,” wrote Donald G. Rehkopf Jr., the Rochester, N.Y., attorney representing the New Mexico-based foundation, in the formal complaint.
The U.S. Constitution bars religious tests for public offices such as those in the military, and Pentagon regulations forbid a command from endorsing any faith over others.
Serving more than 675,000 beneficiaries, Pearigen’s Navy Medicine West is the largest Navy health care system in the Western Pacific region. Headquartered at Naval Base San Diego, it controls medical and dental clinics along America’s west coast, plus Hawaii, Japan and Guam.
In a Friday message emailed to Rehkopf, Navy Medicine West paralegal David Ostrander indicated that “we are investigating the matter now” and would have “more information to follow.”
Messages left with Cdr. Edward O’Brien, Pearigen’s staff judge advocate, were not returned and the admiral’s spokesman, Mike Alvarez, said that he’s trying to determine the status of the probe now.
“We reached out initially to the hospital at the beginning of the week but they didn’t take care of this,” said Michael “Mikey” Weinstein, a former Air Force officer and the foundation’s founder, during a telephone interview on Friday. “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.”
Weinstein said that 16 of the 26 petitioners identify as Christians — including Roman Catholics and several Protestants — with the rest a mix of Jews, Native American, Shintoists, Buddhists, atheists, and agnostics.
According to the written complaint, Weinstein was told by a Navy officer in Okinawa that the hospital could not resolve the issue for at least another month because the commander was temporarily away on other duties.
He called on the Navy to remove the Bible from the display, discard the language about “one nation under God” and launch an independent investigation into the matter and assign appropriate disciplinary measures to those responsible.
Weinstein said that since Easter his organization had taken on 117 new clients, including the troops in Okinawa, who are disgruntled about a wide range of alleged religious violations by military units.
Naval Hospital Okinawa is located inside Camp Foster, which falls under Marine Corps command.
In November, Weinstein and his legal team from the American Civil Liberties Union forced officials at San Diego’s Marine Corps Recruit Depot to bar future displays of a Christian nativity scene on public grounds.
Earlier in the year, 27 active-duty, retired and veteran Marines had called on depot commander Brig. Gen. William Jurney for a new policy allowing troops of other faiths to erect similar religious displays where the nativity scene was.
Twenty of the petitioners were Jews who wanted a Hanukkah menorah on the grounds each December, with the rest Christians or others who worshipped no deity but wanted to take a stand on religious fairness, according to the foundation.
©2018 The San Diego Union-Tribune. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
An Oregon Air Guard F-15 reportedly took a million-dollar munitions dump before an emergency landing
Several hundred U.S. troops will remain in Syria after allied forces clear ISIS fighters out of their last stronghold in the country, officials said on Friday.
President Donald Trump announced in December that he would withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria, but Sen. Lindsey Graham has since made a strong push to keep a small residual force along the Turkish border along with troops from European allies.
Former Navy SEAL arrested on weapons charges in Haiti says he was doing security work tied to Haiti's president
The former Navy SEAL among a group of eight men arrested earlier this week in Port-au-Prince on weapons charges says he was providing security work "for people who are directly connected to the current President" of Haiti.
"We were being used as pawns in a public fight between him and the current Prime Minister of Haiti," said Chris Osman, 44, in a post on Instagram Friday. "We were not released we were in fact rescued."
The untold story of the dapper Marine who became the Greatest Generation's 'distracted boyfriend' meme
It's a photo for the ages: a Marine NCO, a Greek god in his dress blues, catches the eye of a lovely young woman as her boyfriend urges her on in distress. It's the photographic ancestor of the much-loved "distracted boyfriend" stock photo meme, made even sweeter by the fact that this is clearly a sailor about to lose his girl to a Devil Dog.
Well, this photo and the Marine in it, which hopscotched around Marine Corps Facebook and Instagram pages before skyrocketing to the front page of Reddit on Thursday, are very real.
The photo shows then-Staff Sgt. Louis A. Capozzoli — and he is absolutely not on his way to steal your girl.