How Christian is the U.S. military? One Air Force base in Qatar just held a Thanksgiving party in which they had a cake in the shape of a Bible, on which a Bible verse was written. A picture of the cake was then posted on the base’s Facebook page.
I’m offended… partly because of the awful grammar.
“Offer unto God thanksgiving and pay thy vows unto the most high” and “Let us come before it is [sic] presence with thanksgiving”; “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever and his faithfulness contenues [sic] though [sic] all generation [sic].”
The image was only taken down after complaints from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation’s Mikey Weinstein, on behalf of local service members.
Over Thanksgiving weekend, service members, families and friends at Al Udeid Air Force Base in Qatar, host to the U.S. Central Command and the 379th Expeditionary Wing of the USAF, were treated to a Bible-shaped cake inscribed with verses from two Psalms. An Air Force public affairs officer posted a picture of the cake on the USAF public media platform.
Before the end of the holiday weekend, service members at Al Udeid and elsewhere had complained to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, dedicated to maintaining the neutrality of the U.S. military when it comes to religion. Pictures of the cake disappeared from the media site Tuesday morning.
That wasn’t the only incident in the region. Another service member, a Muslim coalition partner working with the U.S., told Weinstein that he was told to dress up as Santa Claus for the base’s Christmas party in order to show the mostly Muslim group that the holiday “was not just for the Christians.”
Our Commander then say he had found a Santa Claus costume for the celebration and want me to put on the Santa Claus clothes. To show that our “Christmas Party” was not just for the Christians. I was shocked and hurt. I was embarrass. Humiliated.
Now everyone know I am Muslim. Everyone know we are deployed to (country name withheld). Which is a Muslim country. I did not want to be force to play Santa Claus. I call my parents and they were afraid for me to say no to (name and rank of Commander withheld). But they were angry and also confuse.
Weinstein told Newsweek‘s Nina Burleigh that this amounted to an act of “Christian blackface.”
In an interview with Newsweek, MRFF founder and president Mikey Weinstein, a retired Air Force officer, said complaints about fundamentalist Christian proselytizing have been rising since Trump was elected. “We are used to this around this season, we usually have one client call an hour, now it’s two an hour. This is a war by Christians to promote Christmas and it is not even on Christmas. You don’t go to a dining facility where there are people of all faiths and creeds and put misspelled Bible verses on the central thing, this cake. And, this is Christian blackface, to force a Muslim to dress as Santa Claus.”
While the issues appear to be resolved, I would love to know if the officials who called for a Christian cake or ordered the Muslim officer to don a Santa outfit will be punished in any meaningful way. If not, how will anything ever change? Because these types of stories seem to pop up all the time. If you’re promoting Christianity through the military, shouldn’t the repercussions be severe considering how egregious the act is?