The blessing of what’s being called “the official Bible for the new U.S. Space Force” at the Washington National Cathedral on Sunday is drawing an outpouring of criticism on social media and condemnation from a prominent religious freedom advocacy group.
“The Military Religious Freedom Foundation condemns, in as full throated a manner as is humanly possible, the shocking and repulsive display of only the most vile, exclusivist, fundamentalist Christian supremacy,” MRFF
founder and president Mikey Weinstein writes in a statement denouncing the Bible blessing.
“The utilization of a Christian bible to ‘swear in’ commanders of the new Space Force or any other [Department of Defense] branch at ANY level is completely violative of the bedrock separation of church and state mandate of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”
In a tweet on Sunday, the Washington National Cathedral posted a statement describing the Bible that was blessed during a morning service as a Space Force official Bible “which will be used to swear in all commanders of America’s newest military branch.”
“Gross,” writes one Twitter respondent identifying himself as United Church of Christ pastor Seth Wispelwey of Tucson.
“Um. We don’t swear our military oaths on a Bible, or any text for that matter,” writes Gidget, a self-described veteran, in another reply. “Stand at attention, right hand up. That’s it.”
At the National Cathedral ceremony, U.S. Air Force Chief of Chaplains Maj. Gen. Steven Schaik stands in full dress uniform before the congregation holding a King James Bible donated by the Museum of the Bible, a private Washington, D.C., institution whose board chairman is Hobby Lobby president Steve Green.
“Accept this Bible which we dedicate here today for the United States Space Force,” intones the Rev. Randolph Hollerith, dean of the National Cathedral, “that all may so diligently search your holy word and find in it the wisdom that leads to peace and salvation, through Jesus Christ our Lord, amen.”
The blessing of the Bible also features flattering words for President Trump, who strongly advocated creating the Space Force, from the Episcopal Church’s bishop suffragan for the armed forces.
“Almighty God, who set the planets in their courses and the stars in space,” the Rev. Carl Wright implores, “look with favor, we pray you, upon the commander in chief, the 45th president of this great nation, who looked to the heavens and dared to dream of a safer future for all mankind.”
Wright says the Bible will be entrusted to Gen. John Raymond, who last month assumed command of the U.S. Space Force.