By Peyton Majors
Christian Action League
September 22, 2023
A Christian bookstore located within a military base in North Carolina has become the target of a left-leaning group that wants it booted due to the so-called “separation of church and state.”
The bookstore, Faith2Soar, is located in an exchange mini-mall on Fort Liberty (formerly Fort Bragg) and has been operating there for eight months, according to the Military Times.
Mikey Weinstein, founder of the non-profit Military Religious Freedom Foundation, told the Military Times that the store’s location on Fort Liberty is unconstitutional.
“We have no trouble with any of these stores at all if they’re in some local mall. But it’s about the time, place and manner. This is on U.S. military property,” Weinstein told the Military Times. “We would be just as upset if it were another religion.”
The Constitution, he added, “makes it clear that [the government] will not establish religion. This is the epitome of establishing religion, in a post exchange.”
The bookstore sells Christian books and clothing as well as patriotic items.
In an Aug. 31 email registering his complaint, Weinstein claimed the Faith2Soar store and the military’s allowance of it “represents the heinously un-American, unconstitutional epitome of unlawful, ‘in-your-face’, fundamentalist Christian nationalism, triumphalism, exceptionalism, domination, bullying and supremacy.”
Weinstein says 211 military personnel at Fort Liberty are Military Religious Freedom Foundation clients and want the store gone.
But Mike Berry, director of military affairs at First Liberty Institute, told the Military Times that Weinstein “is flat-out wrong on the law.” First Liberty, a legal group that defends religious liberty, is representing the bookstore.
“It would be unconstitutional and illegal for the government to exclude a bookstore or any other type of business from operating in an AAFES area simply because they are a Christian or other faith-based business,” Berry said.
A military spokesperson told the Military Times that “customer demand determines product and service availability.”
“The Exchange provides a diverse and inclusive assortment of religious-themed merchandise,” the spokesperson said.
Store owner Josh Creson said the complaints have surprised him.
“We’ve never been approached by anyone complaining about our presence here at all. We’ve received a tremendous amount of praise and appreciation from people saying they are so thankful we are here, but nothing ever negative,” Creson said.
“We’re a for-profit organization. We’re not tied to the military,” Creson added.
Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, said that a few years ago he had come upon a pamphlet titled, The Soldier and His Religion.
The Pamphlet was printed by the United States Government Printing Office, in Washington D.C., 1942. The book said that in those days, any young man inducted into the Army, would receive if he wished it, a pocket Testament, appropriate to the one of the three major religious groups in which he was interested. The Pamphlet continued:
“The forward, over the facsimile signature of the President of the United States, says:
“As Commander in Chief, I take pleasure in commending the reading of the Bible to all who serve in the armed forces of the United States. Throughout the centuries men of many faiths and divers origins have found in the Sacred Book words of wisdom, counsel, and inspiration.”
Creech said that little book, which was provided by the United States government to soldiers in the U.S. military is proof the intended purpose of the First Amendment was never meant to expunge all religious expression from public life or government institutions.
“In fact, the Founding Fathers, including Thomas Jefferson, recognized the importance of religious freedom and the presence of faith in the public sphere, said Rev. Creech. “Some people today have turned the Firsts Amendment on its head. Military bases, like any other government entity, should respect the constitutional rights of individuals, including their right to religious expression. As long as the bookstore is not involved in coercive or discriminatory practices and is open to all service members regardless of their faith, it should be allowed to operate on the base.”