Gideons Banned From Military Bases-Fiction!

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 Truth:

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.”, 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.

updated 11/25/08