Christianity

Air Force Base Takes Down Nativity Scene After Group Calls It An 'Egregious Violation'

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

An Air Force base in South Carolina took down a Nativity scene last weekend after activists complained that the installation violated both the U.S. Constitution and military code.

Now officials at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter are trying to figure out what to display in its place, reported CBS Charlotte.

Air Force spokeswoman Lt. Keavy Rake told CBS that the scene was put up on Friday by a group of volunteers. Nearby, a tree lighting ceremony took place Friday evening.

Rake says the base received a complaint from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF).

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“It was very sectarian in nature and a direct violation of the US Constitution as well as a blatant violation of Air Force Instruction 1-1 Section 2.11,” MRFF spokesman Paul Loebe said in a statement.

The group’s leaders, Mikey Weinstein allegedly called the Pentagon over the scene, according to the Washington Times.

"It's called Air Force Instruction 1-1 section 2.11," Mikey Weinstein said.

"This becomes an issue of command endorsement of Christianity particularly since it was right next to the Christmas tree, there was a Christmas lighting that was just about to happen," Weinstein added. "We commended the Air Force for how quickly they moved after we contacted them at the Pentagon."

Weinstein said his office received 41 complaints from Shaw Airmen about the Nativity.

At least one man told WLTX he wasn’t offended by the scene.

"I don't know where a plastic baby Jesus could cause such emotional distress on somebody that they would want to get involved with the military freedom folks and then have that removed," John Sammons, who served in the military for 20 years.

Loebe thanked the Air Force for its quick removal of the Nativity.

“Within 2 hours and 15 minutes of initially being contacted by MRFF, the nativity scene had been promptly removed,” Loebe’s statement said. “MRFF wants to congratulate the Air Force on acting so swiftly to reverse this egregious violation and hopes that in the future they will ensure that no such violations continue to occur.”

Sources: Washington Times, CBS Charlotte, WLTX.com