The Army & Air Force Exchange Service said it will stop selling Jesus-themed candy in response to a complaint filed by a secular legal organization warning that selling the treats at commissary and exchange stores is a violation of the U.S. Constitution.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation announced Friday that it received a response to a letter it sent recently to the AAFES objecting to the sale of “Jesus Candy” at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
AAFES is the retailor found on U.S. Army and Air Force installations worldwide.
The package of candy comes in mini stockings that have the words “Jesus Sweetest Name I Know” written on the top. The product is produced by a company called Scripture Candy, which carries the motto: “Reaching the World One Piece at a Time!”
The New Mexico-based MRFF accused the candy package of being “more of a Christian proselytizing kit than a package of candy” and argued that the sale of the product violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The clause prevents the establishment of a state religion.
MRFF demanded that the product be removed from store shelves.
In an op-ed Friday, MRFF senior research director Chris Rodda said MRFF attorneys received a response from the AAFES on Thursday.
AAFES reportedly agreed to stop selling the candies, but did not say it agreed with MRFF’s claim that selling the product was a violation of the Constitution. Instead, AAFES said it would stop selling the candies due to “limited historical demand.”
“Upon exhaustion of the very small quantity of inventory we have remaining in stock, AAFES will discontinue the stocking and sale of the products from this vendor due to limited historical demand,” the AAFES letter reads, according to MRFF.
Rodda wrote that MRFF assumes that the AAFES’ discontinuation of Scripture Candy products will apply to Scripture Candy’s products for other holidays as well.
An AAFES spokesperson confirmed to The Christian Post that the service “discontinued the sale of Scripture Candy because of low demand.”
CP also reached out to the First Liberty Institute, a leading legal nonprofit that has experience litigating military religious freedom cases. A response is pending.
First Liberty Institute director of military affairs Mike Berry, a Marine Corps combat veteran, defended the candy company in a previous media interview.
“This is just the latest publicity stunt by a bunch of activists,” Berry told Fox News. “A real constitutional expert — or any first-year law student — knows that selling candy canes at Christmas is perfectly legal.”
Berry also accused MRFF of having “its own version of the Constitution.”