A number of religious leaders gathered together at the Washington National Cathedral on Sunday for the blessing of a very special Bible. The text, a King James Version, is set to be used exclusively by the newly-formed United States Space Force.
In December of last year, the United States Space Force was officially recognized as the sixth armed service branch, with Air Force General John “Jay” Raymond, the former head of Air Force Space Command and U.S. Space Command, being installed as the first “Chief of Space Operations.”
Speaking at Sunday’s service, the Episcopal Church’s bishop suffragan for the Armed Forces and Federal Ministries, Right Rev. Carl Wright, prayed that the Bible would “guard and guide all those who purpose that the final frontier be a place where God will triumph over evil, where love will triumph over hate, and where life will triumph over death,” according to the Washington Post.
Also in attendance at the service was the Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, dean of Washington National Cathedral, along with Maj. Gen. Steven A. Schaick, chief of chaplains for the U.S. Air Force.
“Accept this Bible which we dedicate here today for the United States Space Force,” Hollerith, said during the blessing, according to NPR. “That all may so diligently search your holy word and find in it the wisdom that leads to peace and salvation, through Jesus Christ our Lord, amen.”
As you’d expect, there were some complaints about the Bible taking center stage in the formation of a new branch of the armed forces.
In a statement on the event, which it deemed preposterous, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) said that it “condemns, in as full-throated a manner as is humanly possible, the shocking and repulsive display of only the most vile, exclusivist, fundamentalist Christian supremacy.”
“The utilization of a Christian bible to ‘swear in’ commanders of the new Space Force or any other [Department of Defense] branch at ANY level is completely violative of the bedrock separation of church and state mandate of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” the group added.
During the course of his prayers, Rev. Wright asked that God would “look with favor” upon the President.
“Almighty God, who set the planets in their courses and the stars in space,” he said, “look with favor, we pray you, upon the commander in chief, the 45th president of this great nation, who looked to the heavens and dared to dream of a safer future for all mankind.”
Some 16,000 active duty Air Force personnel — a mix of civilian and military — are to be assigned to the Space Force.