WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is demanding the Pentagon remove Nativity scenes at Guantanamo Bay.
The group received an email from a service member stationed at the base in Cuba, saying that he and others want the Christian Nativity scenes at the Gold Hill Galley and Seaside Galley dining facilities taken down. The service member states he reached out to MRFF because he felt their concerns would be ignored and that they could face possible retribution.
“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 letter to the MRFF states. “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.”
The letter also said that the military family includes Muslims, Jews, Wiccans, Buddhists, Agnostics and other denominations and that the military institution only promotes Christianity.
According to the Navy Times, Mikey Weinsten, the foundation’s president, sent a statement to Pentagon officials demanding the removal of the Nativity scenes.
“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,” Weinstein said to the Pentagon in an email. “Of course, they can be put up at places that are constitutionally allowable such as the installation chapel facilities.”
According to the Navy Times, Weinstein also claimed that a service member who spoke to a superior officer about the Nativity scenes was told, “We don’t need any troublemakers here. Why don’t you just go to Subway?”
Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, a Defense Department spokesperson, told the Navy Times that the department does not “endorse” any specific religion.
“We work to ensure that all service members are free to exercise their Constitutional right to practice their religion — in a manner that is respectful of other individuals’ rights to follow their own belief systems; and in ways that are conducive to good order and discipline; and that do not detract from accomplishing the military mission,” Christensen told the Times.
Weinstein says he has yet to hear back from the Pentagon on the matter.