Selected Article Excerpts:
- Service members stationed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have sought the help of an advocacy group to bring down two Nativity scenes in on-base galleys and relocate them to the on-base chapel.The Military Religious Freedom Foundation received an email Monday night signed by 18 active-duty service members protesting the Nativity scenes set up at the Guantanamo’s Gold Hill and Seaside galleys, according to foundation president Mikey Weinstein. In a photo sent to Navy Times by Weinstein, the Gold Hill galley appears to be decorated with banners reading “Merry Christmas.”
- “Our local military family encompasses many faiths and beliefs to include Muslim, Jewish, Wiccan, Buddhist, Agnostic and other denominations,” the email to MRFF states. “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.”
- “ 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’s email to the Pentagon reads. “Of course, they can be put up at places that are constitutionally allowable such as the installation chapel facilities.”
- Weinstein said one service member who brought the issue up with a superior officer was told, “We don’t need any troublemakers here. Why don’t you just go over to Subway?”
- “The religious climate was made very clear when we received our initial in-processing brief,” the email sent from service members to MRFF said. “One of our senior command team members briefed that their relationship with God was placed higher than even their relationship with their family.”
From MRFF’s Inbox:
GTMO, Cuba Nativity Assistance
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,
Multiple Names, Ranks, Units of U.S. Military Members’/MRFF Clients’ at Guantanamo Withheld