Nativity scenes out at Guantanamo dining halls - FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com

Nativity scenes out at Guantanamo dining halls

Posted: Updated:
Troops eat lunch near a nativity scene at the Guantanamo Bay naval base, Wednesday, Dec, 18, 2013. Some troops have complained that nativity scenes and Christmas decorations at two dining facilities.(AP Photo/Ben Fox) Troops eat lunch near a nativity scene at the Guantanamo Bay naval base, Wednesday, Dec, 18, 2013. Some troops have complained that nativity scenes and Christmas decorations at two dining facilities.(AP Photo/Ben Fox)

By BEN FOX

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (AP) — The commander of the Guantanamo Bay naval base decided Wednesday to move Nativity scenes from two dining halls following complaints that the decorations improperly promoted Christianity.

Both Nativity scenes will be moved to the courtyard of the base chapel, said Kelly Wirfel, a spokeswoman for Capt. John Nettleton, commander of the base in southeastern Cuba.

The displays were set up by foreign contractors who manage the two dining facilities and were "not intended to endorse any religion," Wirfel said in response to concerns raised by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.

The group, which advocates for religious freedom in the U.S. military, had said earlier that it had been approached by troops who felt the Nativity scenes and Christmas decorations were inappropriate.

Wirfel said base officials had received no complaints about the displays. Mikey Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said the organization received an email from 18 service members who were afraid that any direct appeal to commanders would be ignored and result in retribution.

"They are terrified. Right now, there is a witch hunt going on to find out who did this," said Weinstein, a former Air Force lawyer who said the troops wanted to remain anonymous.

Eleven of those who complained are Protestant or Roman Catholic and the rest are Muslim, Jewish, agnostic or atheist, he said.

The base has a population of nearly 6,000 military and civilian personnel. Outside the coils of razor wire surrounding an area where nearly 160 prisoners are held, the base has set up many exterior displays of Christmas lights and other decorations along wide streets, creating the feel of a typical suburban American town in December.

The challenged decorations are inside two dining facilities, one of which is used primarily by people who work inside the prison such as guards and translators. An email sent to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation from the troops said the Nativity scenes went up in late November in the center of the eating area and no other religions were represented despite the presence of other faiths on the base.

"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," said the email, provided to The Associated Press by the organization without the names of the senders.

The email said prominent members of their command had shown "Christian religious undertones," which led them to believe they could not complain directly about the decorations.

The senders said they put up with a great deal of hardship in their jobs, including having bodily fluids hurled at them by prisoners, and should not be made uncomfortable on their time off.

"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," the email said.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Summary

  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Falling debris from Midtown building

    Falling debris from Midtown building

    Thursday, July 31 2014 9:41 AM EDT2014-07-31 13:41:20 GMT

    Emergency personnel are responding to falling debris from a high-rise building in Midtown Manhattan. West 57th St. between 5th and 6th Avenues is closed. SkyFoxHD was overhead where pieces of glass could be seen on the ground and a window shattered. Two people were hit by the falling glass at about 8:45 a.m. and were taken to Roosevelt Hospital with minor injuries, according to police.

    Emergency personnel are responding to falling debris from a high-rise building in Midtown Manhattan. West 57th St. between 5th and 6th Avenues is closed. SkyFoxHD was overhead where pieces of glass could be seen on the ground and a window shattered. Two people were hit by the falling glass at about 8:45 a.m. and were taken to Roosevelt Hospital with minor injuries, according to police.

  • Arrest in attack on teen in elevator

    Arrest in attack on teen in elevator

    Thursday, July 31 2014 9:24 AM EDT2014-07-31 13:24:13 GMT
    Two thugs were caught on security camera footage beating a teenager and stealing from her inside an apartment building in the Midwood section of Brooklyn.  The NYPD says the attackers are seen dragging the 18-year-old out of an elevator into the hallway and punching and kicking her.
    Police have arrested one of two suspects wanted in the brutal attack of a teenager inside her apartment building in the Midwood section of Brooklyn. The thugs were caught on security camera footage beating the 18-year-old at about 9:34 on Sunday night. The attackers are seen dragging the girl out of an elevator into the hallway and punching and kicking her. Tyler Hopping, 18, was arrested on Wednesday.
  • Dad delivers baby into toilet

    Dad delivers baby into toilet

    Thursday, July 31 2014 8:30 AM EDT2014-07-31 12:30:58 GMT
    A Connecticut father proudly helped deliver his own baby... into a toilet.
    A Connecticut father proudly helped deliver his own baby... into a toilet.
Powered by WorldNow

KSAZ-TV & KUTP
511 W. Adams St.
Phoenix, AZ 85003

Phone: (602) 257-1234
Fax: (602) 262-0177

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices