There’s a nativity debate unfolding at Guantanamo Bay after U.S. servicemen reportedly complained about two creches in dining spaces.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation says it received an email from 18 active-duty service members who are opposed to the presence of these Christian scenes, the Navy Times reported. The organization is appealing to the Pentagon to immediately remove the displays.
The nativities are in common dining areas, with the complaining officers writing in their email to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation that the creches give “the impression is that one faith is better than others, and that the military institution singularly promotes Christianity.”
“MRFF is demanding that the wholly unconstitutional nativity scenes and other sectarian messages be taken down immediately from the Gold Hill and Seaside gallies at GTMO,” Military Religious Freedom Foundation President Mikey Weinstein said in an email to the Pentagon.
Weinstein told TheBlaze Wednesday that the Pentagon has not responded to his group’s inquiries. He pledged that his organization will continue to demand that the two nativities be taken down immediately and placed at a more appropriate location.
“The law is clear. Either you include all religious faiths or you do not,” he said. “These nativity scenes are completely appropriate over at the chapel. They are completely … egregiously unconstitutional where they currently reside.”
Weinstein said the majority of his clients are actually Christians.
“For the record, 11 of our 18 clients are practicing Protestants and Roman Catholics,” he said. The rest are Jewish, Muslim, atheist and agnostic.
Weinstein added, “Our clients have told us that there appears to be a witch hunt going on to find out who the 18 clients are.”
Here’s the text of the initial email sent to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation:
Mikey Weinstein and MRFF,
I am a military service member deployed in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. I am writing this letter on behalf of myself and several other service members stationed here. Shortly after Thanksgiving two of the base dining facilities, Gold Hill Galley and Seaside Galley, prominently displayed Christian nativity scenes in the center of their eating areas. Several large banners displaying “Merry Christmas” are displayed throughout both facilities as well. No other religious denominations are represented aside from Christianity. Our local military family encompasses many faiths and beliefs to include Muslim, Jewish, Wiccan, Buddhist, Agnostic and other denominations. 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.
We come to you because Christian religious undertones have been shown from prominent members of the command team and we believe that our concern will be ignored and that there may be retributions if we attempt to hand this through the chain of command or Inspector General. These dining facilities are frequented by all members of the chain of command and command teams and should have been addressed already by these senior members. The religious climate was made very clear when we received our initial in-processing brief. One of our senior command team members briefed that their relationship with God was placed higher than even their relationship with their family.
Our military members here endure many hardships including being away from family, being verbally abused and having unspeakable items thrown on them during the performance of their duties (not by any US military members), media and national pressure, and less than ideal living conditions. 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.
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.
Thank you very much for your time and assistance.
In addition to removing the nativities, Weinstein is demanding that the Defense Department initiate an investigation into a “fundamentalist command climate” he believes is present on the base and providing a disservice to the American people and to soldiers alike.
(H/T: Navy Times)
Featured image via Military Religious Freedom Foundation