Christmas in veteran hospitals has been an issue for a couple of years now. From Georgia to Arizona VA hospitals have been in the news for banning Christmas carols performed by visiting high school choirs and in some cases for refusing the use of a Christmas tree in the facility because they viewed it as a religious symbol. Now the VA is working in advance of the holidays to skip the controversy this year by outlining the rules for Christmas in VA hospitals.
The new rules allow for Christmas in designated areas and local VA officials are instructed to remain neutral regarding what is presented there.
“No one should try to water down Christmas for our veterans just because they object to any religious references or items. I am most grateful that the VA has clarified their policy prior to the upcoming holidays,” Chaplain Ron Crews, a retired Army Reserve colonel, said Sept. 21.
“This should make clear that churches may sing Christmas carols and distribute Christmas cards at VA hospitals,” Chaplain Crews continued. “The guidelines state that hospital administrators may allow this and provide reasonable guidance as to where displays may be set up and where and how long a church choir may sing.”
At play here, once again, is a misguided interpretation of the Establishment Clause of the Constitution, which forbids a state sponsored religion. Past local officials viewed any type of Christmas singing, displays or decorations as a violation of that clause.
Of course, it is a gross exaggeration. No way does a Christmas tree establish a religion. And no way does the VA represent Congress nor the ability to pass a law “establishing” a religion.
The VA incidents are nothing more than yet another assault on Religious Freedom. The goal of progressives is to write religion completely out of the public dialogue by banning it altogether. By extension, they “establish” a “state religion” of atheism.
Of course, there will be those who call that an extreme view. But forcing belief is forcing belief — even when they DON’T use a tree to do it.
Both the ACLU and the Freedom from Religion Foundation brought the suit against the school when they say they were contacted by a local resident who complained about it. The annual production has been a tradition in the community of Elkhart, Indiana for years without complaint.
As the suit was brought forward officials at Concord High School scrambled to make what they felt should have been acceptable changes by adding Hanukkah and Kwanzaa songs and changing the controversial Nativity scene from a live production to static images. But the FFRF in particular balked noting that the Nativity scene and depiction of Jesus Christ were “…coercive, representing an endorsement of religion by the high school and the school corporation, having no secular purpose and has the principal purpose and effect of advancing religion.”
The court ruled that the changes to the production of the Nativity scene did not in fact constitute a violation of the Constitution’s establishment clause.
This debate seems silly to almost anyone who has even read the Constitution. The so-called “Establishment Clause” forbids Congress from establishing a state religion. A high school is not Congress and showing a Nativity scene does not establish anything.
But America has fallen into a trap of political correctness when it comes to cases like these. Because a school is a government run operation the assumption is that if a school depicts or participates in anything religious it is a violation of the Establishment Clause.
The FFRF has threatened schools and school districts nationwide for several years now working to get not only Nativity scenes but even the most remotely religious Christmas carols of antiquity banned from public schools. In most cases, school districts have opted to comply rather than to fight costly lawsuits.
The case is ongoing and the local school district is still facing possible fines for Nativity scenes depicted in previous productions dating back nearly five decades.
The report cites the growing influx of immigrants and refugees as causing local officials to overcompensate by doing things like changing the name of a Christmas tree to a “festive tree”.
The study was headed by Dame Louise Casey, the government’s integration tsar. She said a white manager invoked the change in the name of the tree to avoid offending Asian and Muslim citizens.
“What offence did he think he was causing? What did we ever think would be offensive about celebrating Christmas with a tree?” Dame Louise said.
The report also says waves of immigration have dramatically changed the character of some state schools and left Brits feeling unsettled.
Casey blasted local councils for “over worrying” about causing offence. She said that only by promoting “core” British laws, traditions and cultures in every ethnic community can Britain hope to integrate fully and defeat the “hate-mongers” from the far-Right and Islamist extremists who want to divide the country.
The report notes that these sensitivities swing further into dangerous territory than just Christmas trees. In one case officials in Rotherham turned a blind eye to sexual exploitation of children by men of Pakistani background.
“The council and police were in denial about what was happening in their town,” she said. “That was a tragic failure on so many levels, not least for the victims who weren’t heard or whose abuse could have been prevented.”
As we’ve been observing all year the UK is now the leading front in the so-called War on Christmas.
Christmas shoppers in Plymouth, England are evidently fed up with Christmas. A merchant there dared to put out Christmas cards for sale the first week of September and according to UK media shoppers are appalled and angry.
Mrs Ivey, who was visiting Plymouth to do some shopping, added: “It’s absolutely daft. I leave my Christmas shopping as late as I possibly can. “I think it’s a great shame that shops are already selling Christmas items because by the time Christmas comes, you are so fed up with it.
What’s happening in the UK is the same thing that has happened for well over a decade in America — the media is trying to spur outrage where there is none. Free market forces determine the right and wrong in these issues: if items don’t sell merchants just won’t stock them.
The UK is famously Christmas crazy. Though time schedules in the UK vary slightly from that of the US they have for decades started earlier and celebrate Christmas longer than their American cousins. For years Brits have prided themselves on a lack of a “War on Christmas” in the Uk.