December 06, 2011 12:17 pm ET - by Kate Conway
Walter Reed Medical Center, a hospital for military personnel, has come under fire recently for a poorly worded memo instructing visitors that "No religious items (i.e. Bibles, reading material, and/or artifacts) are allowed to be given away or used during a visit." Walter Reed has apologized on their homepage for the memo and promised to draft new guidelines, clarifying that the policy was not intended "to prohibit family members from providing religious items to their love[d] ones" but rather to "respect the religious and cultural practices of all of our patients."
Rep. Steve King (R-IA), a primary propellant of the initial controversy, isn't content with the hospital's mea culpa, preferring to imagine a larger and deeper conspiracy against religious liberty. Noting ominously that the policy "doesn't say no Qurans," King speculated that "this has got to flow from the White House. They have to look at this and think Barack Obama would approve of this, at least."
KING: What was the purpose in writing this? It wasn't ambiguous. It was very clear. No Bibles — it doesn't say no Qurans, by the way, which crossed my mind — but I suppose it's covered in the general language. This administration— This has got to flow from the White House. They have to look at this and think Barack Obama would approve of this, at least. I'm going to meet with an admiral this afternoon at three o'clock, we're going to talk about this, but whoever implemented this policy, whoever allowed it to flow through underneath their eyes, there's a reason for it. It was not an accident, and I think the one who initiated it should be dismissed.
Since the beginning of Obama's presidential campaign, the most far-right conservatives have waged an effort to cast doubt on his faith and to paint him as a figure hostile to religion, particularly to Christianity. King's conspiracy theory — that Walter Reed might have implemented an anti-religious policy in order to please the president — is more of the same.
Copyright © 2010 Media Matters Action Network. All rights reserved.