Atheists force Navy to cave…

Calling itself the busiest 60 acres in the world, the Naval Support Activity Bahrain (or NSA Bahrain) is home to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet.

NSA Bahrain is also home to;

  • Thousands of American troops.
  • Hundreds of American military families.
  • Hundreds of Allied military personnel.

What NSA Bahrain is not home to:

  • The Holy Family.
  • Three Wise Men.
  • A singular Santa Claus.
  • Assorted shepherds.
  • A lone camel.
  • A Christmas Tree.

As reported by Fox News, it’s been a long standing tradition aboard the naval installation to host;

“A ‘Live Nativity’ that featured the children of military personnel dressed as shepherds, wise men, along with Mary and Joseph.

It was part of a larger festival that included a tree lighting, Christmas music and photographs with Santa Claus and a camel.”

Manger Scene “Unconstitutional”…

Enter the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers (MAAF), who objected to the Nativity scene and eventually filed a complaint with the Navy’s Inspector General (IG).

They argued the Nativity Scene promoted “Christianity as the official religion of the base.”

According to MAAF, the Nativity Scene puts service members in danger.

Per the written complaint to the Navy’s IG;

“Also of concern is the likelihood that the predominantly Muslim local population will see the U.S. military as a Christian force rather than a secular military support U.S. – but not necessarily Christian values in their Muslim country.

This even threatens U.S. security and violates the Constitution as well as command policy.”

As told by MAAF spokesman Jason Torpy to Fox News;

“It’s unconstitutional, it’s bad for the military and in a Muslim country it’s dangerous.”



Posted by admin in Navy, Policy

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  • I’d say they owe us our nativity scene if we have to deal with their ridiculous Internet filtering. And (un)surprising lack of good scotch. And 100 degree heat on Christmas Day. And our protection of their monarchy.

    • Dan McIlvaine

      US use of NSA Bahrain is a mutually advantageous arrangement between the US government and Bahrain. Nobody owes you anything.

  • Joe Rochefort

    Put up a pagan winter solstice display. And a Jewish Menorah. And an Atheist’s Atom. Once you represent the winter holiday traditions of every other belief structure, then you get to have a nativity scene added. Or better yet, keep the government out of the faith business.

  • Just file this under “Stupid Government Tricks.” American atheists are, without doubt, the most obnoxious and intolerant nitwits in the universe. Naturally, mindless government drones find them kindred spirits.

    • Chuck Hill

      Not all atheists would agree with MAAF.

      • sid

        I would be interested in seeing an atheist defense of keeping leaving the Nativity scene alone…
        I have yet find any libertarian view anywhere in the atheist literature on why tolerance of other beliefs…as they demand for themselves…should be practiced by them.
        Show me where I am wrong.

      • FoilHatWearer

        I don’t understand their “reasoning” of being so offended by anything religious. Not believing in something means indifference. If a person doesn’t believe in it, it shouldn’t mean anything more than stones on the walkway or grass on the lawn. If they’re that outraged, the problem is them.

      • This base was also officially sponsoring a Gay Pride Parade?!

        Well, I guess it IS a Navy base, eh? Nevermind…carry on.

    • FoilHatWearer

      I just don’t understand the atheists. Religion was never really my cup of tea, but I wasn’t all offended and filing grievances because the chaplain on my aircraft carrier was doing a nightly prayer over the 1MC and Sunday services were happening somewhere on the ship. It’s all good, everybody’s gotta do their own thing. The atheists are like the environmentalists: they’re obstructionists who feign offense at every little thing because they thrive on negative attention and know that, most of the time, powerful institution will buckle under and the whiners will once again win.

      If the mere sight of anything remotely religious is so offensive, go start an internet business, have your groceries delivered, and pull down the shades in your house. Then you won’t have that problem. (When I say “you”, it’s like the royal “we”, it’s not directed at Pat Gang.)

  • Charity Armstrong

    If this is taken to the extreme, you could remove every aspect of faith from our military bases. And then what? Should our ships stop holding services during deployments, because someone might be offended? What has this begun, and where will it end?

  • squorch

    US government can’t endorse religions. Sky blue, water wet, film at 11.

    What is awesome is USNI being used to parrot right wing talking points that have zero to do with “advanc[ing] the professional, literary, and scientific understanding of sea power and other issues critical to national defense.”

    • Dan McIlvaine

      Completely concur; this isn’t even a military policy issue such as combat exclusion or DADT. It’s basically moderator-endorsed trolling, and I hope in the future the USNI blog moderators will try to stick to policy issues. I understand they probably want to ensure a steady stream of posts, which may lead to a lower bar for entry, but if so it’s a shame.

      • Unfortunately for you, I stand right with the moderator. Religion has been part and parcel of the military since day one. NO ONE needs religion more than those asked to put their lives in danger every day of their life. Quite frankly, I fail to understand where these jackass atheists get off telling us we can’t have a Nativity scene..especially since it’s their constitutional right to not take part already. Last but certainly not least, Dan, this is the INDEPENDENT forum of the sea services. It is not owned by the Navy or any part of the US Government, so if you and the rest of MAAF try to shut this down, good luck, it’s a private entity.

      • mripley

        Please note all that we are an independent forum and it is not uncommon for us to pose questions to our audience. we do not take sides on issues, we publish others thoughts on matters we find might be of interest to our audience and members.

      • squorch


        It actually IS uncommon. I went back 3 years of blog posts and the only other question posed from the admin account was in a similar vein – the naming of the USNS Cesar Chavez. Even the content was similar – just a cut and paste with a link to a article.

        I say “similar vein” because outside of the epistemically closed right wing information sphere, the naming was not controversial at all. Just as how outside of the right wing information sphere there is no “war on Christmas.”

        So when you say “we do not take sides on issues,” it rings slightly hollow – along the lines of “we report, you decide.”

      • sid

        You conflate…

        And besides that, you are wrong in the case of the USNS Chavez.

        The beef was…and is…the discarding of ship naming conventions for a cynical [stupid] ship naming trick.

        Chavez was on public record stating he hated his naval service.

        Why name a ship after him?

      • Maynard’s Ghost

        Dan, sounds like you have a lot of great ideas and high standards about naval affairs. Why don’t you start writing blog posts and sending them in to USNI so we can talk about them? Snarking about the bar being low (which, it probably is so that discussion and debate is encouraged) is a lot less helpful that deciding to be the “man in the arena” and contributing to a substantive discussion yourself. As I said in my reply to Squorch, I don’t really understand how a decision at a naval base, which has an impact (large or small) on forward deployed families, is not worthy of discussion on a blog. It is policy, yes maybe base policy instead of DoN policy, but I don’t know that USNI should be limited to only things which start inside the beltway.

    • Let’s open our hymnals to the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

      If you don’t think the issue of whether or not we are capable of taking care of Johnny Sailor’s religious needs when we’re asking him to go die for his country isn’t an “other [issue] critical to national defense,” then that’s your opinion and God help you. But there are those of us who believe, unlike our Soviet counterparts, that this is an important policy issue. To be sure, it’s a personnel issue, and I don’t take anything more personally than that.

      And look–I didn’t vote for Eisenhower, but I go to church. Believing that the military should be able to accommodate all religions and respect the spiritual needs of our troops doesn’t make this or me a “right wing talking point.”

    • When you use a phrase like “right wing talking points” it says a lot more about yourself than it does the article. I re-read everything said…and no where does it point to a “left wing” talking point. Have a nice day and try not to grind your axe too much, it will dull in the long run

  • After decades of working in predominantly muslim countries, making many muslim acquaintances, when I receive/d email Christmas greetings, the ones from these muslim men are often the most effusive. The ‘muslim leaders’ may not be able (for various reasons) to publicly express Christmas good-will to all, but the men and even the few women (generally cleaning ladies) were very respectful toward and sure to extend best wishes during the Christmas season.

    I do not think there is any issue for them regarding Christmas per se.

    Those who want to attack ‘western infidels’ might decide to use Christmas as an excuse, but they don’t really need an excuse, do they. Oh, look, it is daylight, time to attack the infidels.

    “What are we calling you to –?–We are calling you to complete submission to his will, complete submission to Sharia law.” — stuff osama bin laden said.

    Yeah, Christmas.

    The Baron made Snoopy fly to the Rhine

    And forced him to land behind the enemy lines

    Snoopy was certain that this was the end

    When the Baron cried out, “Merry Christmas, my friend”

    Yeah, tradition: “Don’t talk to me about naval tradition. It’s nothing but rum, sodomy and the lash.” — stuff Churchill might have said.

    Merry Christmas, all.

  • Maynard’s Ghost

    Looking at the issue, from top to bottom, your incensed response appears a bit overboard.
    First, the suggestion that the topic is not relevant for USNI. I would say that a discussion of a policy decision on a naval base that impacts the lives of deployed Sailors and Marines as well as the families that move overseas to be with their loved ones would be well inside the USNI wheelhouse. If this was about a decision at a small town in Montana…no it wouldn’t be. However, at the very start of the post the link to naval affairs is made. Just because it’s potentially controversial and has political and religious implications doesn’t mean its out of bounds.
    As to the enumerated points
    1. The use of the word athesit is fair game because that is a word that the name of the organization which made the objection. Use of that word doesn’t “denigrate,” it simply identifies. If it had said “foolish athesits” or some other kind of language like that it would denigrate. The “Cancel’s Christmas” verbiage came from the linked articles, and the question mark added to it likely indicates that the idea is open for discussion (which, luckily, you have provided.)
    1(a). It appears to me that the post is intended to initiate discussion and analysis from members (thus the “what say you”) rather than provide its own analysis. Therefore repeating some of the pertinent facts and statements from the article seems reasonable. Could a better source have been selected? Well, probably since Fox News and the Examiner tend to get partisan maybe using an article from another source (CBS News in DC has one on their website, as do others) may have had a different appearance, though it you read the articles they all say the same thing, and relate the same facts.
    2. Maybe the post was updated? I don’t see this anywhere? Though, it sounds like it would have come from one of the news reports, was it in the report that is on another website? So…sorry you don’t like what that person told the reporter, but other than snarkiness is there a larger point? Obviously the MAAP was devastaed by the existence of the nativity if they were willing to file suit, so the snark can go both ways, right?
    3. You make a good point, and this should have been brought up in the post. Moved and removed are not the same thing.
    4. You are correct. Bull’s Soviet comparison doesn’t help.

    • squorch

      From the link:

      As on[sic] officer who remained anonymous stated;

      “It was horrible, it was devastating.”

      Moreover, I’d say that 3) goes to the heart of why this is a poor choice of topics, wording and framing – essentially, why it’s bad for USNI.

  • grandpabluewater

    God bless us, every one.

  • Diogenes_of_NJ

    Anyone care to give the over/under on how much longer we’ll be permitted to play the Navy Hymn in a public place?

  • robert_k

    As a proud member of the right wing and a member of the USNI for many years, I must agree with the squorch on this one. If this topic was to be addressed by the USNI
    staff, it should have attempted to counter the inaccuracies in the tabloid media. Second, I attended the SECNAVs Christmas party yesterday and had the opportunity to exchange “Merry Christmas” salutations with the Under – he is much bigger than I am – he could have punched me in the face and told me to shut my pie hole if indeed the navy’s policy was to cancel Christmas, but he didn’t. December 25th is a federal holiday to celebrate Christmas and Mass/Services will still be held on Navy and Marine Corps bases around world and no one will be denied the day off with the exception of those duty standers and those on operational deployment. There is no navy
    policy to cancel Christmas and it would have been beneficial if the USNI staff actually pointed that out as well as including the details of this isolated incident.

    In fairness to Mary, the site has improved a great deal since she came aboard – particularly after the freedom of speech debacle a few months ago. Nice work cleaning house!

    If the USNI team is looking for a timely and relevant topic
    to stir debate, there is a fine article in today’s CHINFO clips from Time on the improprieties being committed by many top military officers recently – including one of USNI’s own blogging team.

    • UltimaRatioRegis

      Not that I could ever tell you anything you don’t already know, but the decision not to post here is mine, not Mary’s. In large measure because of the self-righteous and overly officious comments of people like yourself, who are decent enough to decide and inform regarding what is worth discussion and what is not. Having to water down plain speech to keep from offending your delicate sensitivities is not worth the time.

      That, and your incessant and deliberately contrarian (and often pointless) harping. That you would consider discussions of free speech a “debacle” answers a great deal of questions.

      That you got to wish Bob Work a Merry Christmas is wonderful. I am sure it makes the American service members and their families in Bahrain feel a lot better.

      • robert_k

        Hey the URR is back!

        Merry Christmas to you too, Lt Col!

  • FoilHatWearer

    To be fair, they should cancel Ramadan, right?