Was the Veterans Administration on a Christmas jihad to bar Christianity from its hospitals and cemeteries?
“Congressman Jeff Miller says veterans administrators restricted the delivery of Christmas-specific cards, singing of Christian carols and the distribution of gifts wrapped in Christmas paper,” reports United Press International.
“Several incidents at Veterans Affairs medical centers over the holidays have prompted the House Veterans Affairs Committee chairman to question whether VA has violated the civil rights of veterans in its care,” reports Military Times.
“Why did VA hospitals restrict and in some cases ban volunteers from bringing holiday cheer to patients? That’s the question Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) wants answered,” writes Todd Starnes of Fox News. “He’s the chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and he’s accusing the VA of disrespecting Christmas as well as censoring and obstructing volunteers bearing gifts and Christmas cards.”
“In taking it upon themselves to restrict Christmas cards, carols and gifts in certain locations, VA officials clearly ignored longstanding federal government traditions, basic common sense and possibly a 2011 federal consent decree that ordered VA not to ban religious speech,” Miller wrote in a letter to Eric Shinseki, the secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“Because Christmas is a federal holiday and VA is a federal entity, VA patients, volunteers and veterans service organizations should be free to respectfully honor it without obstruction and censorship from VA,” he wrote.
But the problem is bad and getting worse, says American Legion National Commander Daniel Dellinger.
“Christians are more and more often targeted for censorship and restriction at VA facilities,” Dellinger said. “First of all, VA’s decision to prohibit the delivery of Christmas cards that mention Christmas is ludicrous. Second of all, VA has been down this road before, and recently. VA has been warned through a federal court decree to stop denying freedom of religious expression at its facilities. It’s pretty obvious the Dallas VA did not get that memo.”
And now the VA hospital in Dallas has admitted to “incorrectly”
rejecting Christmas cards from students at Grace Academy in Prosper, Tex.
“We regret that a misunderstanding of policy was communicated and will work towards ensuring no one is told that their religious cards for Veterans are not welcome,” director Jeffrey Milligan wrote in a letter to the Liberty Institute, a Christian advocacy group.
“In separate events at VA hospitals in December,” reported Military Times, “administrators limited private donors, schools and veterans organizations from delivering Christmas-specific holiday cards, singing religious carols publicly and delivering gifts wrapped in Christmas paper.
“The incidents sparked outcries from conservative groups and now have attracted the attention of at least two Republican lawmakers, House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Jeff Miller of Florida and Rep. Martha Roby of Alabama. Each has sent letters to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki asking him to look into the incidents and provide copies of VA policies regarding the distribution of religious material and gifts.