Guantanamo base commander moves Nativity scenes after complaints

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 December, 2013, 11:56pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 December, 2013, 11:56pm


The commander of the Guantanamo Bay naval base has decided 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 Captain John Nettleton, commander of the base in southeastern Cuba.

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

Mikey Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said the organisation had received an e-mail from 18 service members who were afraid that any direct appeal to commanders would be ignored and result in retribution.

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

"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 e-mail to the foundation.

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