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Winning: VA Rule Change Allows Bibles, Christmas Decorations

Winning: VA Rule Change Allows Bibles, Christmas Decorations

VP Pence: “During the last Administration the VA was removing Bibles & even banning Christmas carols to be politically correct, but under President Trump, VA hospitals will NOT be religion-free zones”

Under the Obama regime, the VA underwent major restrictive changes in terms of religion and Christmas, with various VA’s around the country instituting a range of bans.  Bibles, high school Christmas carolers, gifts in wrapping paper with the words “Merry Christmas” or “God Bless You,” Christmas trees and decorations, and even Christmas cards for hospitalized veterans were all banned.  It was an appalling overreach that is now, at long last, being corrected under the Trump administration.

Vice President Mike Pence has announced changes in VA rules, and religious items, including those related to Christmas, are again allowed in our nation’s VA hospitals.

The IJR reports:

Vice President Mike Pence announced that he would be scrapping some of the previous administration’s policies when it comes to religion in Veterans Affairs hospitals.

The vice president spoke before the American Legion National Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Wednesday where he announced that the administration under President Donald Trump would be rolling back some of the policies put into place while President Barack Obama was in the Oval Office.

According to Pence, Obama-era rules prohibited the celebration of religious holidays in VA hospitals, including the display of Christmas trees and Bibles.

Pence promised the veterans in the crowd that those rules were a thing of the past. The Trump administration had overturned those decisions and would be fighting a lawsuit that aims to remove a WWII-era Bible from one VA hospital in New Hampshire.

Pence took to Twitter to make his point clear.

The Bible in question is at the center of a lawsuit filed in New Hampshire over the inclusion in a POW/MIA display of a Bible once carried in WWII by a serviceman.

According to the lawsuit, the Washington Times notes, the inclusion of the Bible in the display somehow constitutes the establishment of religion:  “The placement of the Christian Bible, here, is in violation of that fundamental proscription, that the government may not establish any religion.”

The Washington Times reports:

Earlier this year, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and a veteran of the Air Force sued the VA in New Hampshire alleging a violation of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause of Religion for the display of a Bible at a POW/MIA table in the lobby.

On Monday in an interview with The Washington Times, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said the lawsuit — following the U.S. Supreme Court decision in American Legion v. American Humanist, which upheld the constitutionality of a memorial cross on public lands in Maryland — was all but “moot.”

“The last administration … had a very ahistoric approach [to veterans],” said Mr. Wilkie, who noted that he as a boy growing up in a military family in North Carolina used to sing Christmas carols to hospitalized veterans. “They did not know the makeup of the force.”

Mr. Wilkie also decried efforts by the previous administration of stripping religious memorabilia and limiting the ability of chaplains to disseminate religious texts.

The new rules are reportedly based on the Supreme Court ruling that permitted a cross at a WWI memorial in Maryland.

The Daily Signal reports:

Officials designed the changes to protect the religious freedom of veterans and their families.

The new guidelines, which went into effect last month, referred to the recent Supreme Court ruling allowing a cross-shaped memorial to World War I dead to continue standing on public land in Bladensburg, Maryland.

The high court’s decision highlighted the important role that religious symbols plays in the lives of Americans and their consistency with constitutional principles.

. . . . Wilkie said he doesn’t anticipate litigation over the policy because it is based on the recent Supreme Court ruling.

“What Justice [Neil] Gorsuch said in the Maryland cross case was absolutely on target,” Wilkie said. “Because you might be offended doesn’t give you standing to stop other people from worshiping. For me, this is not only a military issue. It’s a religious liberty issue, and one that is vitally important to those we serve.”

The high court’s ruling should reaffirm the VA’s policy, said Emilie Kao, director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation.

“On the heels of the Supreme Court’s 7-2 decision that reaffirmed the Constitution’s protection of the tradition of public displays of religious monuments, symbols, and practices, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs took a much-needed step to clarify that religious symbols as well as spiritual and pastoral care are welcome at VA facilities,” Kao told The Daily Signal.

“Millions of soldiers from different religious backgrounds have relied upon their faith and gained encouragement from religious literature, symbols, and displays,” Kao continued. “No member of the military should have to hide their faith when they put on a uniform. Nor should our public square be devoid of religious symbols.”

Of course there will be lawsuits, but it sounds like Wilkie is essentially saying, “bring it.”


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now, can we do something about the appallingly lousy care we vets get in the VA abattoirs?

Until there is a call for separation of Mosque and State, Synagogue and State, Temple and State, and, especially, Chamber and State (i.e. Twilight faith, PC ethics), the calls for separation of Church and State are exquisitely, unabashedly bigoted (i.e. sanctimoniously hypocritical), which not even the Pro-Choice quasi-religion, political myths and all, will suffice to redeem.

    redc1c4 in reply to n.n. | August 29, 2019 at 5:55 pm

    true dat.

    atheism is just another religious belief, and should not be given the power to eliminate other views/beliefs in the public space.

For those who did not memorize it in school:

“Amendment one

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”

If Congress cannot prohibit the free exercise of religion, neither can the VA.

    dnpiercy in reply to Valerie. | August 29, 2019 at 6:35 pm

    Reynolds v. United States disagrees

    Milhouse in reply to Valerie. | August 29, 2019 at 7:25 pm

    True. But the VA itself cannot practise or advocate religion, so when a government employee does something religious the question is always whether he is doing so for the government or for himself, and also whether he will be perceived as doing it for the government or for himself.

    (The latter is why the courts have set different standards for schools and colleges; school children are likely to take everything their teacher says as carrying the school’s authority, while college students are presumed to be mature enough to understand when a professor is speaking only for himself.)

    The 0bama rules went way too far in attributing employees’ private actions to the agency. Out of a supposed “excess of caution” regarding the establishment clause (really motivated by hostility to religion), they ended up infringing on the free exercise clause.

      txvet2 in reply to Milhouse. | August 29, 2019 at 7:35 pm

      It’s amazing that anybody survived the first 200 years of constitutional rule, what with all of the religion being practiced by school children singing Christmas carols and giving each other Christmas cards. Hell, we even sang things like “Onward Ye People” in high school choir. Oh, the horror!

      gibbie in reply to Milhouse. | August 29, 2019 at 8:15 pm

      Precisely why schools should never be run by a government bureaucracy! Education and religion are inextricably intertwined. There is no such thing as “religious neutrality”.

    BobM in reply to Valerie. | August 30, 2019 at 1:30 am

    Freedom of Religion is incompatible with Freedom FROM Religion.
    If citizens are allowed to freely practice their faith in public, it follows that you are not allowed to ban them from freely practicing their faith in public.

    My sister used to work as a nurse (later nurse administrator) at a state psychiatric center, which included a children’s ward. Many of the kids there were abandoned by their families, no visits, no contact at all. This was especially hard on them at Christmas time, even non-Christian kids in the US usually participate in some manner in the secular aspects of the holiday.

    She started a project where she would make personalized Christmas stockings for the kids resident and she and other volunteers would purchase (safe) contents so the kids would at least have SOMETHING on Christmas morning.

    Perhaps some Evangelical Atheist can explain to the crowd what great and oppressive EVIL would be averted by playing Grinch instead of Santa for these kids on December 25th?

tommy mc donnell | August 30, 2019 at 2:11 am

why do conservative continue to call totalitarianism political correctness?