Dec 14, 2011Print This Post
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation has threatened to sue Travis Air Force Base unless they remove or relocate a Nativity scene and a Menorah currently on display on a major thoroughfare at the military installation.
“This conspicuous display of ritual objects is a clear endorsement of religion in violation of the Establishment clause of the First Amendment, and must either be removed from the premises or moved to a more appropriate location on the Air Force Base to ensure compliance with the United States Constitution,” wrote attorney Katherine Ritchey on behalf of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.
A spokesman for Travis AFB told Fox News & Commentary that they had received the letter and have turned it over to legal counsel. For now, they said, the Nativity Scene and Menorah remain on display.
The Nativity features figures representing the baby Jesus, the Virgin Mary, Joseph and the Wise Men. Adjacent to the Nativity is the Menorah.
“There is no doubt that a reasonable person, upon viewing these two religious symbols, would believe that they convey anything but a religious message,” Ritchey wrote.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation accused the Air Force of endorsing ‘rituals and beliefs associated with that faith.”
The MRFF said they received a letter from an anonymous airman complaining about the holiday decorations and what he called the “tyranny of the majority.”
“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,” the anonymous airman wrote. “I know many other people are similarly offended and confused.”
“I joined the military to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, not to spread the gospel,” the airman added. “I fear that the religious symbols so prominently displayed on my Air Force Base convey a different message.”
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, blasted the threat and called it “yet another flyby-attack on Christianity.”
“No one is forced to stand in front of the Nativity, and salute it, but people in this country should have the right to celebrate Christmas and what it means,” Perkins told Fox News & Commentary.
Perkins cited a Gallup poll that suggested more than 95 percent of the nation celebrate Christmas – and a Pew Research poll that indicated 78 percent of Americans identify as Christian.
“Increasingly, people are saying it is time to stop the bombardment of our religious freedom by this zealous. Minority,” Perkins said.
Unless the displays are immediately removed, the MRFF threatened to take legal action.
Editor’s note: A previously published version of this story included the headline “Atheists Declare War on Travis AFB.” We have since updated the headline and clarified points in the article to reflect the same.