Augusta VA won't let carolers sing religious songs

Monday, Dec. 23, 2013 5:40 PM
Last updated Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013 12:34 AM
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The angels will not be heard on high, nor will the little Lord Jesus sleep in heavenly peace at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center.

The Augusta hospital announced Monday that it’s taking a stricter stance on its policy banning carolers from singing religious Christmas music in public patient areas.

Last week, the facility prevented a group of high school students from Augusta’s Alleluia Community School from singing to its veterans a number of traditional holiday tunes that honor and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, such as Silent Night and O Come All Ye Faithful.

“Military service veterans, male and female, represent people of all faiths,” hospital spokesman Brian Rothwell said in a statement. “It is out of respect for every faith that The Veterans Administration gives clear guidance on what ‘spiritual care’ is to be given and who is to give it.”

Alleluia Community School Principal Dan Funsch said he was sad to hear that the Veterans Affairs hospital’s “spiritual care” grants holiday exemption only to Frosty, Rudolph and the secular characters that make up the 12 Days of Christmas.

“This is not a religious proselytizing, evangelistic issue,” said Funsch, arguing that Christmas songs are broadcast during the holidays on area radio stations and in local retail outlets. “The song Joy to the World is as much a part of the holiday spirit as the Christmas tree.”

Funsch said the peculiar part of the policy is its recent enforcement.

Rothwell could not provide the date the VA’s ban on religious Christmas songs took effect, but Funsch said that in 2011 and 2012 his students were welcomed without hesitation at the Augusta VA’s Uptown campus as part of a yearly caroling the school does on its last day of classes before the holiday break.

This year, however, when they arranged to sing at the medical center downtown, an official from the hospital’s volunteer services division told a high school senior that he and his classmates could perform only secular songs because of policy.

When Alleluia administrators tried to confirm the rule Thursday, the VA did not return their phone calls, Funsch said.

Instead, Funsch said, when he and his students arrived at the hospital Friday, they were handed a list of 12 Christmas songs the hospital’s Pastoral Service had “deemed appropriate for celebration within the hearing range of all Veterans.”

Rothwell said the students – like all groups who come to the VA – were offered the option of performing in a private chapel or day room where they could sing specific songs that might make veterans of other faiths uncomfortable.

“We regret any inconvenience or misunderstanding that this (policy) creates,” Rothwell 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 individual beliefs.”

Funsch said that because of time constraints and unfamiliarity with some of the songs provided by the VA, his high school students decided – on principle – to forgo this year’s caroling in hopes of finding a suitable location to sing their songs next year.

The principal said his students were disappointed with the decision but glad to see their administrators stood up for what they felt was right.

Funsch added that his middle school students were allowed to sing at Georgia Regents Medical Center with no problems.

“From our point of view, the purpose of Christmas and its carols is 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,” he said. “We do not think it is a good idea to systemically weed out religious Christmas songs from being sung in certain places.”

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foster
65
Points
foster 12/23/13 - 06:21 pm
33
13
VA Christmas Songs

Curious why all of sudden under President Obama's administration these songs are now offensive!!!!!

darylb
30
Points
darylb 12/23/13 - 06:23 pm
27
10
Liberals

The liberals are trying to do this everywhere!!

teaparty
11313
Points
teaparty 12/23/13 - 06:51 pm
24
8
"Curious why all of sudden
Unpublished

"Curious why all of sudden under President Obama's administration these songs are now offensive!!!!!"
I guess many people did not understand what the community organizer meant when he said, 'he wanted fundamentally change our country. It should be obvious even to the stupid now. He will do great damage before he is done.

happychimer
19537
Points
happychimer 12/23/13 - 07:07 pm
9
36
Why do any of you think

Why do any of you think President Obama knows about this? You people blame anything and everything on him. You must love him lots because you talk about him all the time. It is sad that the students could not sing those Christmas songs. I certainly think that went too far, and I am proud to be a liberal.

SJL1204
188
Points
SJL1204 12/23/13 - 07:12 pm
19
3
Ironic

I find it sadly ironic the students cannot sing Christmas carols. Especially when if you visit the Down town VA retail store Christmas carols are blasting so loudly you cannot think.I may add they are religious songs played at a very high volume.Not to mention all the staff that have religious quotes at the end of their emails.

dichotomy
37487
Points
dichotomy 12/23/13 - 07:19 pm
25
8
Y'all wanted CHANGE and the

Y'all wanted CHANGE and the liberals are giving it to you.

Everybody got their Obamacare yet?

Riverman1
93727
Points
Riverman1 12/23/13 - 07:27 pm
18
3
Wait A Cotton Picking Minute

The military has chaplains of various faiths administering to service members. I don't think any religious group was being prevented from singing carols at the VA. This doesn't make sense. Are VA patients not to be shown the same courtesy to their faiths as active duty military?

teaparty
11313
Points
teaparty 12/23/13 - 07:30 pm
24
7
"Why do any of you think
Unpublished

"Why do any of you think President Obama knows about this?"
happychimer, it is the community organizer's polices filtering down. Talk to some military people if you want to know about his polices.

augusta citizen
10021
Points
augusta citizen 12/23/13 - 07:33 pm
19
3
Who's complained?

I wonder if any of the Veterans have complained? I doubt it, seems like this is a politically correct Admin. deal to me. If they are playing radio stations in the facility as the above poster says, that have the same religious songs, why does it matter if it comes over the radio or from kids personally caroling?

Humble Angela
41338
Points
Humble Angela 12/23/13 - 07:49 pm
26
7
"Why do any of you think
Unpublished

"Why do any of you think President Obama knows about this?"

Good point...he didn't know about anything else that has happened in his administration....ie NSA spying, IRS targeting, etc, until he read it in the news....why would we think he knows about this?

RedQuinoa
2934
Points
RedQuinoa 12/23/13 - 08:02 pm
20
5
Cowardly VA

"It is out of respect for every faith...", the spokesman said, for why they deny caroling that depicts the true meaning of the season. I beg to differ: It is due to FEAR of the shrill secularists and liberals who are determined to expunge Christ entirely from the celebration of His own birth. Hrrrumph!

Just My Opinion
6262
Points
Just My Opinion 12/23/13 - 08:09 pm
23
3
Wow. I called a couple of my

Wow.
I called a couple of my friends who work in the hospitals (nurses) and each of them couldn't believe it. The general consensus was they've never met a dying, sick, or hurting patient who ever asked for the nurse to pray to Allah for them. Not trying to stir up a problem here, just passing along what they've said. Of course there are patients out there who are of different faiths. But when you are in America...a country KNOWN to be founded on Christian principles...you know that there are going to be certain things that have a CHRISTIAN flair to them, Christmas being one of them. Would someone go to an Islamic faith-based country and demand that Christian values be honored?!?
Don't think so.
This country is becoming ridiculous and pathetic.

oldredneckman96
5115
Points
oldredneckman96 12/23/13 - 08:15 pm
7
4
Christmas
Unpublished

Vote. Vote for Obama and his ilk or vote for Phil Robertson. It is still your country for a little while.

Fiat_Lux
16440
Points
Fiat_Lux 12/26/13 - 02:26 pm
17
4
And exactly who is surprised by this kind of garbage?

I'm certainly not, and I fully expect it will get worse until there is active persecution of people because they express their beliefs--if they're Christian, that is.

Everyone else will be protected and allowed to profess whatever they like, no matter how perverse, so long as it doesn't resemble Christianity.

Edit from 12/26/13: This story got picked up by Drudge and was placed top of left hand column.

bgetha
9
Points
bgetha 12/23/13 - 09:13 pm
7
2
Love of Enemies

Perceived or real enemies of Christianity must be Loved. According to our Leader, Jesus Christ. Luke 6: 27-36. This mandate acted upon by His followers in the United States today, will prove our worthiness to be called the children of God the Father. As Christ conquered the power of evil/death, in His day, with an all-encompassing Love. It is now our turn, to use this same power. Be thankful for these opportunities.

mosovich
858
Points
mosovich 12/23/13 - 09:19 pm
12
6
How pathetic..

If I was a veteran, I'd be raising a total mess down at that place.. How sad for our veterans.. This is a real shame..

csraattitude
24
Points
csraattitude 12/23/13 - 09:28 pm
10
4
Shame on VA officials for banning Christmas Carols!

Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is being honored through these young voices.Ironically, the messages through song are honoring our veterans that defended our Constitutional rights.These rights include all faiths to express their agenda.

We worship the only saviour that arose from the dead. leaders of all other faiths are in the ground, but Jesus ascended
When he returns, what a wonderful day that will be.

The singing will be the best! All ears will hear!!

deestafford
31934
Points
deestafford 12/23/13 - 09:29 pm
9
7
Things like this come from the top...

Things like this come from the top and reflect the position(s) of the commander...In this case we are talking about Obama and GEN (Ret) Shinski (or however it's spelled). I would hope the AC delves further into this.

How anyone can say that this bunch of thugs from Chicago and their worshipers are not pursuing a war on Christians deserves a white cut that ties in the back. This man is becoming dangerouser, and dangerouser each day.

Conservative Man
5578
Points
Conservative Man 12/23/13 - 09:43 pm
8
5
America is doomed.....

.....DOOMED I say...

augusta citizen
10021
Points
augusta citizen 12/23/13 - 10:11 pm
8
4
Shameful...

Really, this is shameful, I am just sick about it.

allhans
24886
Points
allhans 12/23/13 - 10:13 pm
6
4
I wonder if Rothwell made

I wonder if Rothwell made sure the patients knew what a deed he had done.

freeradical
1176
Points
freeradical 12/23/13 - 10:19 pm
7
3
Let All The Faiths Sing Then

If it is all the faiths they are truly worried about then just issue

The proclamation that " All Faiths " are welcome to sing their

Muslim Christmas songs , Hindu Christmas songs , Buddhist Christmas

songs , etc,etc,etc,etc,,,,,, at the VA .

All are welcome to sing their Christmas Songs .

scoopdedoop64
2488
Points
scoopdedoop64 12/23/13 - 10:52 pm
9
7
Why so surprised?

Our nation and world is steadily getting further and further from the the truth of God. While we were a nation built on Christian values the nation has changed and turned away from Him. If we were not built as a Christian nation we would not be going through the change now that we are turning away from Him. The Bible speaks that these things must come and so we shouldn't be surprised when these things happen. Fact is, we as Christians should not try to provoke but neither should we shrink back from singing or telling people the good news of Jesus Christ. I would have told them to arrest me and my kids if that's what they wanted but we plan to sing our songs and wish people a Merry Christian. I don't set out to offend non-believers but I really don't care if others like it or not.

blues550
380
Points
blues550 12/23/13 - 11:09 pm
0
0
VA
Unpublished

Great. The VA not only can kill off their patients, now they think they can kill off God.

Somebody needs to lose their job over this.

Navy Gary
1615
Points
Navy Gary 12/24/13 - 08:25 am
8
5
Go figure...

Go figure.....? The President can say God Bless America on national TV but our children can't say one nation under God in school and now us/our Veterans get their holiday songs censored. I really wonder? What type of person thinks these things up and then thinks they have achieved some sort of victory when they succeed?

On a more local note; Perhaps the bureaucrats at the VA should be more concerned with those dirty instruments they've been infecting veterans with rather than censoring the holiday songs sung by church volunteers.

john
1212
Points
john 12/23/13 - 11:39 pm
10
4
im offended

this is unacceptable. I will resign my status as a veteran. I will throw my bronze star away. Wait, hasn't that been done by a certain secretary of state already?
What a bunch of nonsense. May I tell a faith based military story? I was a private first class in the 82nd airborne back in 86. Our unit was scheduled to do a training jump and we were all ready to go at Green Ramp at Pope Air Force Base. Our battalion Chaplain asked those who wished to participate come over for a prayer. He prayed for our safety that day along with some other stuff. About 10 minutes later we found out that our jump would be no-go'd because the plane broke. Coincidence, maybe. Just saying. This "dont want to offend anyone" crap has got to level out with some perspective at some point.

AutumnLeaves
10258
Points
AutumnLeaves 12/23/13 - 11:42 pm
4
4
Good grief. Christmas Carols

Good grief. Christmas Carols are about Christmas. How can they sing Christmas Carols without it being religious music? From now on, if I hear people attempting to sing old-time Gospel music instead of approved Catholic Hymns at my Roman Catholic Church, I'm going to get all "grumpy cat" and have a word or two with someone, I guess, if people are going to get discriminatory about Christmas Carols at the VA?

Darby
29288
Points
Darby 12/23/13 - 11:48 pm
8
4
"Why do any of you think President Obama

knows about this? You people blame anything and everything on him."

.
Who said anything about OzBama "knowing" about this specific infraction? It's just that the bureaucrats are emboldened and take their lead and their que from their leader.

The more they see him get away with, the more comfortable they are in stepping on the rights of those over whom they perceive to be vulnerable and under their control.

Their abuse is nothing more than an extension of his own overreach and arrogance.

blues550
380
Points
blues550 12/23/13 - 11:49 pm
0
0
First Rothwell
Unpublished

First of all, Brian Rothwell needs to be fired. Period.

Second, the VA is totally sexist. SpokesMAN...shouldn't that be SpokesPERSON?

Darby
29288
Points
Darby 12/23/13 - 11:57 pm
8
4
Autumn - Where you went wrong is in assuming

that Christmas has anything at all to do with the birth of Jesus.

Where on earth did you get that crazy idea? Christmas is basically just a holiday established in order to give hardworking atheists, agnostics and Muslims a little time off to rest before starting the New Year.

Singing Christmas carols during "their" time only serves to confuse and upset them. Don't want that, do we?

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