The Bible Making A Comeback At Veterans’ Hospitals

People make fun of “The War on Christmas,” and it being no big deal. When Christmas Carols are banned due to religious content, the Bible is in the mix as well. Here is BLACK CHRISTIAN NEWS NETWORK ONE noting the issue:

Complaints from a civil rights group has forced the removal of a World War II Bible from a veterans hospital display, although the group says the Bible’s new location is just as problematic.

The Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Manchester, N.H., last year allowed a museum-like “Missing Man Display” to be assembled to honor the nation’s POWs and missing veterans.

The display involved an empty chair at a kitchen table, with a plate, drinking glass, candle, flower, American flag and salt shaker sitting atop a table cloth, WMUR reported. A Bible that was carried by a POW in World War II also was part of the display, but it was removed after a complaint from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.

Veteran Paul Martin and his Northeast POW-MIA Network were in charge of the display.

“That Bible is not just a religious artifact — that some people would say they’re stuffing religion down my throat,” Martin told WMUR. “What it means is this guy held on to a lot of faith and hope, family and trust in this nation that they would do everything they possibly could to bring him home.”

The hospital transferred the Bible from the Missing Man Display, which is behind ropes out in the open, to a protected case behind glass. That is just as problematic to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which says 14 veterans have complained……

BTW, just as a side note, one of my two reasons for voting for Trump (many more political and faith based [unstated] positions have been met by POTUS as well) is expressed as a win in the The American Legion v. American Humanist Association, Decided June 20, 2019 by SCOTUS — The Supreme Court reversed the Fourth Circuit’s ruling in a 7-2 decision. What are the consequences of this decision that may not have happened under a Hillary Court? LIFESITE NEWS has a story detailing the “trickle down” effect:

The VA revised directives to permit religious literature, symbols, and displays at agency facilities following a string of incidents in recent years in which individual medical centers banned Christmas carols and a Christmas tree, chapels removed Bibles, and chaplains faced restraints on religious expression.

Generally, the VA had inconsistent policies across the country.

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 play in the lives of Americans and their consistency with constitutional principles. 

“The military culture has been part of my being, an important part of what I believe,” Wilkie told The Daily Signal. “I’ve seen the effects of combat, both in uniform and out of uniform.”

That military culture in which he grew up, Wilkie said, also prioritizes the “ability of our troops to worship, their right to worship, their right to have access to chaplains, and to be free to celebrate their faith.” He added:

Now, moving over to VA, I consider the spiritual well-being of our veterans, their spiritual health, to be just as important as the medical competence and technical competence of our doctors and nurses. They should have that fundamental right available to them to access chaplains, to access their Bibles.

The new guidelines call for “inclusion in appropriate circumstances of religious content in publicly accessible displays at VA facilities,” and allow “patients and their guests to request and be provided religious literature, symbols and sacred texts during visits to VA chapels and during their treatment at VA.” 

The guidelines also allow the VA to accept donations of religious literature, cards, and symbols at its facilities, and to distribute them to VA patrons “under appropriate circumstances.” 

“Under the old regime, you couldn’t have those outward symbols,” Wilkie said. “You could not have religious texts in the chapels unless you brought them. The chaplains could not walk the halls seeking people to talk with. There had to be a specific request.”

[….]

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.”

In January, the Manchester Veterans Affairs Medical Center in New Hampshire removed a Bible on display at a “Missing Man” table after a secular group, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, objected.

The Bible had been carried by a prisoner of war from World War II, but the group said some veterans had complained about its display. 

After receiving new complaints about its removal, hospital officials restored the Bible the following month. In May, however, a Vietnam veteran sued to have the Bible removed. 

“A Bible that was owned by a survivor in the Battle of the Bulge had to be put under lock and key because several people unknown had complained that this was an affront to them,” Wilkie said, adding:

It’s incongruous to me [because] we send our young people to some pretty rough places. The notion that someone who would have been in those situations is so offended by the sight of a Bible that he wants to sue and deprive his comrades of that comfort is just beyond the pale.

In late 2015, a VA clinic in Salem, Virginia, initially blocked a Christmas tree from the premises, stating in a letter to employees that “trees have been deemed to promote the Christian religion and will not be permitted in any public areas this year.” 

The clinic reversed course in late November after public pushback, and allowed the Christmas tree.  

In January 2014, then-House Veterans Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller, R-Fla., wrote then-VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, citing a VA medical center in Augusta, Georgia, that banned high school Christmas carolers.

Miller also wrote that VA officials in Iowa City, Iowa, had told the American Legion not to hand out gifts if the wrapping paper said “Merry Christmas” and a VA hospital in Dallas had refused a delivery of handwritten Christmas cards from schoolchildren because they included the words “Merry Christmas” and “God Bless You.”

Such matters are important beyond individuals’ freedom of religion, affecting the health of veterans in the VA’s care, Wilkie said…..

BECKET has more on “The Lemon Law”

Atheist Activists Attempt To Tear Down History

Yet in 2014 the American Humanist Association sued, arguing that the Peace Cross is a government establishment of religion. But the Constitution does not require religion to be stripped from our nation’s history and culture. The cross is an internationally recognized symbol of sacrifice and loss and a frequently used symbol to honor fallen soldiers. Mere disagreement with something one sees should not be confused with a forbidden religious establishment.

In April 2016, Becket filed a friend-of-the-court brief with Sidley Austin LLP at the U.S. Court of Appeals at the Fourth Circuit defending the memorial, stating it “does not violate the Establishment Clause because it bears none of the historical hallmarks of an establishment of religion.” But in October 2017, the Fourth Circuit ruled against the memorial using the notorious Lemon test, a malleable three-part legal test that has been criticized harshly by many Supreme Court justices. The American Legion, represented by First Liberty Institute of Plano, Texas, and the Jones Day law firm, appealed to the Supreme Court.

Defending Religion In The Public Square At The Supreme Court

In December 2018, Becket, represented by Stanford law professor and former Tenth Circuit Judge Michael W. McConnell, filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the Supreme Court to reverse the Fourth Circuit’s decision and scrap the Lemon test in favor of an approach that returns the Establishment Clause to its historical meaning. Oral arguments took place on February 27, 2019. During oral argument, Chief Justice Roberts raised the argument Becket had urged in brief suggesting that a historical approach offers a clear way for resolving disputes about religious symbols in the public square.

On June 20, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7–2 in favor of the Peace Cross, allowing it to remain standing. The Court’s opinion reversed the Fourth Circuit’s decision against the Peace Cross and stated that, for many, “destroying or defacing the Cross that has stood undisturbed for nearly a century would not be neutral and would not further the ideals of respect and tolerance embodied in the First Amendment.” Becket’s friend-of-the-court brief was cited in concurring opinions by Justice Thomas and Justice Gorsuch.

In Kondrat’yev, et al v. City of Pensacola, Becket is also fighting a militant atheist lawsuit against a World War II-era cross in Pensacola, Florida, that has stood as a symbol of patriotism and fellowship for more than 75 years. On June 28, 2019 the Supreme Court sent the Pensacola case back to the Eleventh Circuit to be reconsidered in light of their Bladensburg decision…..

Facebook Comments