Tuesday, December 20, 2011

2011-12-20 "Travis AFB nativity scene, menorah can stay" by Ellen Huet from "San Francisco Chronicle"
Lawyers for Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield have determined that the inclusion of a Nativity scene and a menorah in the base's holiday display does not violate troops' religious freedom.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a national group that advocates for religious freedom in the military, wrote a letter to base authorities last week saying the two displays amounted to a military endorsement of religions. It asked that the menorah and Nativity scene be moved to a nearby chapel.
On Saturday, the office of the Air Force judge advocate general decided that the displays, "as part of a broader, secular holiday seasonal display," did not violate the First Amendment's freedom of religion clause, base spokesman Johnathan Monroe said.
The Nativity scene and menorah are among 24 holiday displays at Travis, which are sponsored by different squadrons and base organizations. The religious displays were sponsored by the Travis chaplain. Other displays include images of Santa Claus, Christmas trees and airplanes.
The seasonal displays have been a tradition at Travis for the past 17 years without complaint until this year, Monroe said Monday.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation will consult with its attorneys and the 121 troops at the base who filed the original complaint to decide its next move.
"We're hardly surprised," said foundation President Mikey Weinstein. "It's amazing they took this long to do what they always wanted to do."
All the displays are scheduled to be taken down by Jan. 7, Monroe said.

Lance Iversen / The Chronicle
The nativity scene at the corners of Travis Ave and Skymaster Drive on Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield California has come under fire from an organization based in New Mexico. The military free-religion group claims the holiday decorations at the base's main intersection that include Santa's, reindeer -- and a nativity scene and a menorah, are unconstitutional promotion of a religion and asked that the overtly religious decorations be moved to the base's chapel nearby. Thursday December 15, 2011.

2011-12-22 Letter by L.M. Arndt of San Rafael to the editor of "San Francisco Chronicle"
In our country, individuals and groups certainly have a constitutional right to display religious symbols on their own property. They do not have the right to do so on U.S. government property, which is "owned" by all Americans. The Nativity scene and menorah set up at the main crossroads of Travis Air Force Base convey the message that the U.S. military promotes and is prepared to defend just two of the world's religions. Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Taoists, other believers, and atheists as well, apparently will be left to fend for themselves.

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