Airmen at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina were ordered to take down a Nativity scene only hours after they put it up, military officials said.
The Nativity scene was erected in advance of the base's annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony. Airmen said they sent an email to base commanders asking if they could put up a Nativity scene -- and invited servicemen of other faiths to create a display of their own. After receiving no such offers, the airmen went ahead with the scene.
Shortly after it went up, base commanders received a phone call from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. The group's president, Mikey Weinstein, said he'd received calls from personnel at the base complaining about the Nativity scene, the Sumter, S.C., newspaper the Item reported Tuesday.
Lt. Keavy Rake, Shaw Air Force Base public affairs officer, said base commanders pledged to look into the matter. When they contacted Air Force headquarters in Washington they were told it was a violation of the Air Force code to have a sole religious display on base property unless it was associated with an on-base military chapel.
"The base's legal team received a call, and they basically said we couldn't have a sole religious display and we had to take it down," Rake said. "The volunteers took down the Nativity scene and are deciding on a better place to put it."