Air Force Ignores Christmas in South Carolina, But Not in Washington DC

A Nativity scene has been removed from Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina, much to the delight of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.

Conversely, in our nation’s capitol, the U.S. Air Force Band played a selection of Christmas hymns celebrating the birth of the Savior in the National Aeronautics and Space Museum—which is (oh dear!) a public building.


Does the Constitution of the United States protect the free speech rights and the freedom to worship of ALL religious faiths, including Christians, or not?

If I were talking only about one random flash mob in one public setting in one city, we could just move along—go grab a Christmas, er, holiday cookie, and chill out watching TV game shows.  The thing is, though, these incidents pop up every day, in city halls and school buildings and public parks across America, especially this time of year; and it’s time we decided Who We Are.  What freedoms we want to protect.  What, if any, will be disallowed.

See, I remember several instances in which our troops were deployed to defend the right of unpopular militant groups like the Ku Klux Klan or pro-Hitler organizations to march down Main Street and hold an event on the steps of City Hall.  Do the Christian beliefs of the majority of Americans deserve those same protections?

Just last week, there was this kerfuffle  at Nichols Elementary School in Frisco, Texas, when a parent (not, as earlier reports said, the school itself) sent out an email advising parents that there would be no Christmas tree, and that their children could not say Merry Christmas or wear the colors red and green.

Even the American military seems uncertain whether expressions of Christian belief should be tolerated.

And so this happens:

Last Friday, officials at Shaw Air Force Base removed a Nativity scene which included plastic statues of Mary, Joseph, the Baby Jesus and various animals from the grounds near Memorial Lake, after a complaint by the Military Freedom From Religion Foundation (MFRF).

Hiram Sasser, director of litigation for Liberty Institute, has called the military’s actions in removing the display unconstitutional.  Sasser said, “This was private speech.  The military can say no displays on a base, but it cannot allow a display and then ban it simply because of its religious viewpoint.”

The Supreme Court has ruled in the past (here and here, for example) that viewpoint discrimination, even in a non-public forum such as a military base, is unconstitutional.

So, then, we are a free people! 

And when the Air Force (that same branch of the U.S. Military) sends its official band to an official government building to sing the rousing lyrics of Bach Cantata 147 (Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring) followed by Joy to the World, you can rest easy knowing that this is America, and all is good.

  • Manny

    The nativity scene removal in SC is a disgrace. The orchestra flash mob was lovely. I wish someday i could stumble on such a flash mob.

  • kenofken

    The Nativity scene at the Air Force base was in no way “private speech.” It was conducted on public, taxpayer-supported land. In such spaces, religious expression must be open to all, or to none. The regulations appear to stipulate “none” for spaces outside of chapel areas or perhaps other designated spots. If that is true, and no other religious display was allowed where the Nativity was removed, they have no claim for viewpoint discrimination.

  • Paul Loebe

    I work for MRFF. The government cannot push one religion over another. They were told to move it to the chapel or take it down as where they had placed it was not Constitutionally compliant. They chose to take it down.

    This isn’t about anti-Christianity. 39 Christians complained about the base violating AFI 1-1 Sec. 2.11.

    Please get your facts straight. If you’d like to discuss it further I’d be more than willing to.

    • kenofken

      In contemporary Christian persecution mythology, MRFF is cast as some sort of atheist advocacy organization. If memory serves, 90% or more of the servicemen and women who come to the organization for help are in fact Christians themselves, Catholics in some cases who have been inappropriately subject to proselytizing. Does this ring true with what you know?

      • Paul Loebe

        96% of them are Christians.