Would Walter Reed be banned from Walter Reed Hospital?
By Robert Morrison
This article appeared in The Washington Examiner on January 4, 2012.
If you've heard of the Bible ban at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, then you know that my organization, Family Research Council, has been leading an effort to have that ban repealed.
Those in authority at Walter Reed seem to have recognized their grave error. They are telling us they will review the ban that forbade family and visitors to bring Bibles and religious literature to wounded warriors. We shall see.
We are determined not to let this matter slide, or let it get lost in the bowels of bureaucracy. While the authorities at Walter Reed have withdrawn the original Bible ban, we have not yet seen the new directives. Until we do, it will be a case, as President Reagan often said, of trust, but verify.
What kind of mindset is operating at Walter Reed, just a few miles from our nation's Capitol? What thought process could be at work that would allow a ban on Bibles to be approved all the way up the chain of command?
Is it something in the waters at Bethesda, Maryland, a near-in suburb of Washington, D.C.? I hope not. I wonder how many of those thousands who live and work in the nation's richest community realize that Bethesda was named for the healing pools of Bethesda in the Bible.
Speaking at the hospital's dedication ceremony in Bethesda, Maryland, in August 1942, President Roosevelt said this:
"Let this hospital then stand, for all men to see throughout all the years, as a monument to our determination to work and to fight until the time comes when the human race shall have that true health in body and mind and spirit which can be realized only in a climate of equity and faith."
Body, mind and spirit. What part of the Walter Reed Bible ban respects FDR's fine words?
Of course, the close association of spiritual healing with physical well-being has been recognized since Old Testament times. That's why, for example, wounded knights in the Middle Ages were ministered to by nuns and priests. That's why the U.S. Christian Commission went onto the battlefields of the Civil War to work alongside army surgeons and civilian nurses.
Walter Reed National Military Medical Center is the new name for the great medical facility once known popularly as Bethesda Naval Hospital. This combined military medicine center salutes the great army physician who conquered Yellow Fever, a scourge of millions.
Millions of people had died of Yellow Fever before Dr. Reed's research identified the causes and checked the disease. As early as 1793, the entire federal government had to flee the temporary capital of Philadelphia to escape Yellow Jack, as the dreaded plague was called.
Major Walter Reed is the most honored military physician in our history. He was the son of a Methodist minister, described as "a young Christian gentleman from Virginia." When his pioneering research finally succeeded, Reed wrote jubilantly to his devout Christian wife:
"The prayer that has been mine for 20 years that I might be permitted in some way or time to alleviate human suffering has been answered!"
The frame of mind that would ban Bibles is utterly alien to that of the great Walter Reed.
I have to ask this question: Would Walter Reed be banned from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center?
As a former Coast Guardsman, I thank God for the outstanding medical services I received in the military. My life was saved at this very hospital. And as a senior fellow at Family Research Council, I will push back whenever atheizers try to ban the Bible there.
Robert Morrison is senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council.