Loading
Veteran hospital's ban on Christmas carols draws criticism
Christmas Carol. Credit: Sarah K via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).
Christmas Carol. Credit: Sarah K via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).
Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest Addthis

.- A Veterans’ Affairs hospital in Georgia was wrong to bar Christmas carolers from singing religious songs, a religious liberty legal group has said.

“By banning these Christmas carols, the VA is trampling the very religious freedoms our veterans have sacrificed so much to defend. Contrary to what hospital officials are claiming, they are disrespecting--not respecting – constitutionally protected religious freedoms,” Jeremy Tedesco, senior legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, said Dec. 30.

A group of high school students visiting the federally-run Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, Ga. on Dec. 20 were told not to sing religious songs.

They were given a list of 12 Christmas songs the hospital’s pastoral service “deemed appropriate for celebration within the hearing range of all veterans,” the Athens Banner-Herald reports.

Hospital spokesman Brian Rothwell announced the ban the Monday before Christmas, saying military veterans “represent people of all faiths.” He said VA policy is “welcoming but respectful of all faiths and the protection of each veteran’s right to religious freedom and protection from unwelcomed religious material, to their religious beliefs.”

He said the hospital regrets “any inconvenience or misunderstanding.”

Alleluia Community School principal Dan Funsch told the Athens-Banner Herald that his students were welcomed in 2011 and 2012.

“This is not a religious proselytizing, evangelistic issue,” he said, noting that the songs are broadcast on radio stations and retail outlets.

Tedesco said that while veterans have faced dangerous threats, but “children singing Christmas carols is not among them.”

The Alliance Defending Freedom sent a letter to the hospital Dec. 30 saying that federal courts have determined that allowing religious Christmas carols to be sung “fully complies with the First Amendment.”

It urged the hospital to rescind the policy.

Fusch, the principal, said Christmas and Christmas carols are intended “to celebrate and honor the birth of Jesus, and if that goal is taken from us, it is an issue we do not want to be a part of.”

“We do not think it is a good idea to systemically weed out religious Christmas songs from being sung in certain places.”

Other VA hospitals have adopted restrictive policies around Christmas activities. The VA hospital in Dallas said that homemade Christmas cards from elementary students at Grace Academy in Prosper, Texas could not be delivered to veterans because they violated policy. Some children had planned to hand deliver some cards, Fox News commentator Todd Starnes reports.

A VA official cited the Veterans Health Administration handbook, saying a chaplaincy services-led team must review donated cards to determine “if they are appropriate (non-religious) to freely distribute to patients.” He said the policy was “in order to be respectful of our veterans’ religious beliefs.”

The cards were instead sent to Brook Army Medical Center in San Antonio and to a private veterans’ facility in Louisiana.

Tags: Christmas

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day
Missionary of Charity, Korea
Testimony of Christian Love during Pope's Visit to Korea
Religious Sisters in South Korea react to Pope Francis kissing a baby
Warm atmosphere during Holy Mass at Daejeon World Cup Stadium
Images inside Pope Francis flight to South Korea
The tombs of the early Christians
Missionaries of Africa, called "the White Fathers"
Italian youth give testimony after mission to Peru
Interview with Iraqi Ambassador to the Holy See on the persecution of Christians
New book 'The Vatican unknown'
A Look at India from Rome
3D Church mapping
#PAUSEforPeace Initiative
Dedicating art to San Juan de la Cruz
A state without territory elects new government

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Lk 8:4-15

Gospel
Date
09/20/14
09/19/14
09/18/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: 1 Cor 15: 35-37, 42-49
Gospel:: Lk 8: 4-15

Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »

Saint
Date
09/20/14

Homily of the Day

Lk 8:4-15

Homily
Date
09/20/14
09/19/14
09/18/14