Nativity Scenes At Gitmo Spark Controversy, Military Group Demands Removal

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is calling for two Nativity scenes at the Naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to be relocated to the base’s chapel, after they reportedly received complaints from 18 active-duty service members.

The MRFF recently had a Nativity scene taken down at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina after foundation president Mikey Weinstein called it an “egregious violation.”

Service members at Gitmo reportedly contacted MRFF because they feared retribution if they spoke up.

“Our local military family encompasses many faiths and beliefs to include Muslim, Jewish, Wiccan, Buddhist, Agnostic and other denominations,” the service members, who remained anonymous, wrote the MRFF in an email. “By placing these displays in prominent common areas, the impression is that one faith is better than others, and that the military institution singularly promotes Christianity.”

The Nativity scenes in the galley include Christmas decorations and banners that say “Merry Christmas.”

“The religious climate was made very clear when we received our initial in-processing brief,” service members wrote to the MRFF. “One of our senior command team members briefed that their relationship with God was placed higher than even their relationship with their family.”

Weinstein sent a statement to senior Pentagon officials on Tuesday stating: “MRFF is demanding that the wholly unconstitutional Nativity scenes and other sectarian messages be taken down immediately from the Gold Hill and Seaside gallies [sic] at GTMO.”

“When they finally have time to relax with their military family, they should not have to feel uncomfortable, out of place, or insignificant because their beliefs are not represented,” the email said. “We would prefer to not have a large deal made out of this situation and only ask that these clear violations of military policy, and the Constitution, be removed immediately.”

“Of course, they can be put up at places that are constitutionally allowable such as the installation chapel facilities,” the email said.

Weinstein told TheBlaze on Wednesday that the Pentagon had not responded to the complaint. He also said, “Our clients have told us that there appears to be a witch hunt going on to find out who the 18 clients are.”

Sources: TheBlaze, ABC News, Navy Times