A live Nativity scene planned at the U.S. Navy base in Bahrain was dropped from a holiday program after an atheist group complained that it amounted to command sponsorship of a Christian event and could put servicemembers in the Muslim-majority country at risk.
The live nativity was initially scheduled for Dec. 6 during an annual holiday tree-lighting ceremony hosted by Naval Support Activity Bahrain. The celebration also advertised appearances from “Mr. & Mrs. Claus and Camel,” according to a promotional flyer.
The Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers wrote a complaint to the Inspector General responsible for Navy installations, asking that the event be investigated because it promoted “Christianity as the official religion of the base.”
“This violates the Constitution and the mandates of the command to support all belief while privileging none,” the group wrote, according to a post on its website.
The event also could foster misconceptions about the U.S. military’s religious agenda in a Muslim country, the group argued. “This event threatens U.S. security and violates the Constitution as well as command policy,” the group wrote.
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