Lawsuit Filed Over Display of Bible at Manchester VA Medical Center

May 7, 2019

The memorial table, with bible, at the Manchester VA Medical Center.
Credit Manchester VA Medical Center

A U.S. Air Force veteran has sued the director of New Hampshire's veterans hospital over the display of a Bible.

The Christian Bible became part of a memorial table at the Manchester VA Medical Center. It was removed in January after the Military Religious Freedom Foundation said some patients complained.

The group said it was a First Amendment violation. The Bible reappeared in a display case in February after other veterans complained.

The Missing Man Table memorial honors missing veterans and POWs. The federal lawsuit filed Tuesday by James Chamberlain against medical center Director Alfred Montoya says it should be a memorial to all who have served, regardless of their beliefs.

A Department of Veterans Affairs spokesman said after consulting with lawyers, the center put the Bible back as "a secular tribute to America's POW/MIA community."

Part of the VA's statement responding to the suit indicated it will fight the lawsuit. "This lawsuit – backed by a group known for questionable practices and unsuccessful lawsuits – is nothing more than an attempt to force VA into censoring a show of respect for America’s POW/MIA community. Make no mistake: VA will not be bullied on this issue," said Curt Cashour, the VA spokesman.

(NHPR Staff contributed to this report.)