Military Revokes Approval For Use Of Trademarks On Bibles
California – The U.S. Military has recently revoked its authorization for use of military trademarks on bibles.
In a statement, Navy officials reported that its trademark licensing division underwent a complete revamping in 2011. After reviewing all of its existing trademark agreements, it determined that the use of Navy trademarks on bibles did not meet the new standards. As a result, LifeWay, the company who publishes the military bibles, was notified that its trademark agreement would not be renewed. The Air Force Trademark Licensing Program claims it also withdrew its approval for trademark use in 2011. The Air Force did not allow for the depletion of existing stock, but specified that all copies must be immediately removed. Army and Marine Corps officials made no official comment, but its approvals were also withdrawn.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) is claiming responsibility for the recent decision regarding the bibles. MRFF claims that it asked for removal of the bibles after receiving over 2000 separate complaints from military personnel. MRFF argues that sanctioning these bibles was a direct conflict with the United States Constitution, as well as a violation of Department of Defense regulations. According to military policy, endorsement of any non-federal entity is strictly prohibited. With that policy in mind, use of military trademarks on the covers of these bibles made the Holman Christian Bible appear as though it was the official bible of the U.S. Military. Because of the current U.S. conflict with fundamentalist Muslims in the Middle East, MRFF also claims that use of the military logos creates a security threat. MRFF insists that the conflict is a cosmic war between Jesus and Allah, and thus military endorsement of bibles is a national security issue.
Despite MRFF claims, the Department of Defense claims that removal of the bibles was strictly the result of a re-evaluation of trademark agreements and policies. However, some religious groups are calling this recent decision a cowardly move. These groups argue that military personnel from as far back as George Washington have used the bible and other religious texts for encouragement and counsel. They are calling removal of the military bibles a “reckless assault on religious liberty” and are demanding a congressional investigation.
The military-themed bibles are a product of B&H Publishing, owned by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Lifeway publishes four versions of the Holman Christian Standard Bible, one each for the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. Covers for each specific branch of the military include the name and insignia for each specific branch. The bibles reportedly offer devotional material and prayers for military personnel. LifeWay told Fox News Radio that it received authorization to use the official U.S. Military trademarks in 2003. However, it received notice last year that the authorization was being withdrawn. After selling existing copies, B&H replaced the official insignias with generic ones which it claims continue to sell well.
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