Nativity scene returns to Shaw AFB following dispute

U.S. Air Force Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Richard Fitzgerald, 20th Fighter Wing, sprinkles holy water over the Nativity scene Thursday at Shaw Air Force Base.

- Officials have decided the best place for a Nativity scene is next to the installation's chapel.

Air Force spokesman 1st Lt. Earon Brown said a military chaplain blessed the scene after volunteers put it on the chapel grounds this week.

In response, several members of the state's congressional delegation issued a joint press release praising the reappearance of the Nativity scene that had caused a dispute at the air base near Sumter.

"We are pleased the Nativity scene has been restored at Shaw Air Force Base," said the note, attributed to Republican U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, along with 5th District U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney.

"From the start, our offices have been in touch with Shaw officials expressing our concerns about this matter," the note said. "We appreciate the Air Force for listening to our complaint, keeping the Nativity scene on base, and moving it to the Chapel."

The dispute began last week when volunteers put the Nativity near a lake where a tree-lighting ceremony was to be held. But it was removed after the Military Religious Freedom Foundation complained to the Air Force that it was too secular and represented only one faith group.

A spokesman at Joint Base Charleston said Thursday, "We do not have a public nativity scene on our installation."

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