Dear Mr. Weinstein,
I am writing to tell you about what is happening at Travis AFB, California. For the past few weeks and throughout the holiday season, the command at Travis has decided to display a very large Nativity scene, featuring Mary, Joseph, and the Baby Jesus, on the main corner of the base. It is nearly impossible to come onto the installation without seeing it. Travis serves a population of over 122,000 active duty, reservists, dependents, and retirees, who will drive past that scene to get anywhere on base. At night, the scene is illuminated by three, very large, very bright flood lights. This past week, the command put up a menorah next to the Nativity. The presence of these clearly religious displays on the main corner of the base deeply concerns me. I am not alone in my feelings of distress. I know many other people are similarly offended and confused.
I am an Airman who is new to the Air Force, and I have a very proud military heritage. Many members of my family have been in the military, serving our country in over four wars. My parents came to visit me at Travis recently. They were so proud that their child had joined such a prestigious and selfless profession. They wanted to see the base where I was going to forge the beginnings of my career of service to my country. When my parents excitedly drove onto the base, they thought they would see my workplace, the airplanes, or even the beautiful landscaping, but the first thing they noticed was the Nativity. My father, having retired from the military, was very disappointed. He was distraught that he had raised me in a secular environment, and he thought he had sent me off to serve in a secular military.
I know that the military exists to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. Contained within that Constitution is the right to freedom of religion. It appears as though the military endorses Christianity and religion in general. I am well aware that Christians are the majority religion, but I also thought that the Constitution existed to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority. Thousands and thousands of brave men and women have fought and died for the principles embodied in the Constitution, regardless of their religion. The military should never endorse a particular religion, or even indicate that military members should be religious at all. The place for religion is in the base chapel, where someone can choose to visit, not on the corner of the main street, where everyone has to see it.
Mr. Weinstein, please help me because I don’t have a voice. I am scared to say anything for fear that my new career will come to an end if I object to my commanders. I hope to live up to my family’s honorable legacy by continuing to serve my country for a long time. I joined the military to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, not to spread the gospel. I fear that the religious symbols so prominently displayed on my Air Force Base convey a different message.
(MRFF Asset’s name, USAF rank, position, and title withheld)