Law School Discussion

Nativity scene on a military base?

Nativity scene on a military base?
« on: December 21, 2007, 06:37:59 PM »
1.Is a nativity scene located in front of a nondenominational chapel on a US military base in violation of the "Establishment Clause" and/or the "Endorsement Test"?

2.Is it right to assume that the base chapel is nondenominational, and devoid of any religious symbols inside and out, in order to not violate the Establishment Clause/Endorsement Test?

4.And, if so, wouldn't that same line of reasoning lead one to conclude that a nativity scene located 50 feet from the chapel, placed there by the military chaplain, is potentially in violation of the "Establishment Clause" and/or the "Endorsement Test"?

5.If my second point is false, can one assume that it would then be legal to adorn the chapel with only Christian iconography and not be in violation of the Establishment Clause/Endorsement Test?

6.Is it relevant whether the chaplain bought the nativity scene with his own money or if it was purchased with government funds?

BTW, the chaplain drives a Lexus.  I've always found it strange that some "men of the cloth" choose to drive $50K cars....but I digress.

What are your thoughts?

Re: Nativity scene on a military base?
« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2008, 07:02:12 PM »
Let's take it a bit further, should the military pay and support ministers of any faith?  Shouldn't chaplains volunteer to serve military communities?  Should there be ROTC units at private Catholic or other religiously affiliated universities? 

There's no question that the value of a chaplain on the battlefield is immeasurable.  But does a paid chaplain violate the establishment clause?  I don't think so, but of course that is just an opinion.  So long as evangelization doesn't become a problem like it did at the USAF Academy. 
"We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is a habit."  Socrates

Re: Nativity scene on a military base?
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2008, 12:27:18 AM »
First, you have to understand that all bases have non-denominational services all in ONE church (bldg.) The services  for each religion are done in different schedules.  During Hanukka, for example, you might find symbols related to that holiday. So, it is only obvious to have a Nativity scene during Christmas time.
The decor on base chapels is usually done by groups within the  base community, such like the Officer's Wives Club, The Boys/Girls  Scouts, or the Enlisted Wives Club. There is no funding for a Nativity scene, this stuff is done by people who feel the joy associated  during this time of year,to put it simply... Or with the donations received by the Catholic, Baptist or any other Christian group. I'm sorry to tell you, but thesegroups  are the majority in the military, although all other denominations are highly and equally respected.

An MOS is what you do (Military Occupational Specialty. So what you earn is pretty much based on who you are/what you do. The car that you  normally drive is paid by you, the individual, even if you are a Chaplain. The Gov. provides official vehicles for high ranking officials on official bussiness, just like any corporation would. Chaplains are considered high ranking individuals as well, with all the priviliges that come with such job. These vehicles are ussually identified by small side flags that denote rank.
In my opinion, everyone enjoys the fruit of their efforts. You will too, some day.
I should have been a chaplain, man!