Gideons Kicked off of Military Bases-Fiction!
Summary of eRumor:
Two days after the presidential election, the Department of Defense issued an order that effectively bans the Gideons from military bases. The eRumor says it takes effect on November 21, 2008.
The Gideons International is an organization of Christian business and professional men who are “dedicated to saving the lost through personal witnessing and the distribution of God’s Word,” the Bible. It is known for distributing Bibles around the world including to U.S. military personnel.
The eRumor is based on an actual order issued by the Department of Defense, but it does not ban the Gideons from military bases and does not take effect on November 21.
On November 6, 2008, a Department of Defense (DOD) memorandum was published that enacted a policy regarding access by any “non-Federal Entity” to Military Entrance Processing Stations (MEPS). That is where applicants to the military go through various kinds of testing to determine qualifications for joining one of the armed forces.
In other words, it does not apply to all military bases, just the Military Entrance Processing Stations. Also, the memo does not prohibit religious literature at the MEPS, but only when it is not authorized in writing by the MEPS commander. Such literature cannot create the impression that the government is sponsoring or disfavoring any religion in particular. There cannot be any proselytizing, preaching, or spiritual counseling, or fund raising by any non-Federal Entity.
The memo also specifies that “This policy does not apply to religious organizations operating within a MEPS under the auspices of the Chaplaincy of any DOD service or department.” In other words, authorized non-Federal Entities are not affected, although they do need to function under the guidelines established by the government for religious organizations.
Whoever wrote this eRumor said that “This is being battled in the courts, which is why I am not allowed to send you an actual copy of the order.”
TruthOrFiction.com, however, was not able to find any court action being waged and the Gideons International told us they were not taking any legal action against the order.
On Nov. 6, 2008, two days after our presidential election the Dept. of Defense issued an order effective Friday, Nov. 21, 2008 (this past Friday) that effectively bans the Gideons from military bases. When the Gideons arrived at Ft. Hamilton in Brooklyn at 5:30 AM to distribute New Testaments to the recruits being deployed they were handed a copy of the order mentioned here. The order states that effective beginning Nov. 21st. no non-military personnel will be allowed to distribute religious literature on any US military base. The explanation listed in the order is that the US military must be careful not to favor one religion over another. This is being battled in the courts, which is why I am not allowed to send you an actual copy of the order. If you want to see the order ask any camp leader of the Gideons in your area. He will be allowed to let you see and read it, but you will not be allowed to make a copy.