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Legal group demands Augusta VA welcome all caroling

Monday, Dec. 30, 2013 9:35 PM
Last updated Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013 12:31 AM
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A Christian-based legal group demanded Monday that the director of the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta rescind hospital policy prohibiting school children and other well-wishers from singing religious Christmas carols in public patient areas.

In a letter mailed to administrator Bob Hamilton, the Alliance Defending Freedom stated that the facility’s decision to exclude religious music likely violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment.

The 20-year-old national nonprofit organization cited numerous decisions from the U.S. Supreme and Appeals courts in its defense, and gave the medical center until Jan. 10 to respond to its request.

Jeremy Tedesco, the senior legal counsel leading the alliance’s case, said if no action is taken, a possible lawsuit could be in the works.

“Our nation’s veterans have time and again faced and defeated dangerous threats to the liberties we cherish as American citizens – children singing Christmas carols is not among them,” Jeremy Tedesco 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.”

Augusta’s downtown VA Medical Center told high school students from the city’s Alleluia Community School last week that they must choose different music if they want to perform in the public areas in light of a 5-year-old policy they were more strictly enforcing.

Despite facing no resistance at the hospital in 2011 and 2012, the students were given a pre-approved list of 12 non-religious Christmas songs that the hospital’s Pastoral Service “deemed appropriate for celebration within the hearing range of all veterans.”

They were told nonsecular songs could be sung in the hospital’s chapel.

Tedesco said the VA’s policy appears to be nothing more than “political correctness run amok.”

“The Constitution clearly prohibits the VA from targeting religious Christmas carols for exclusion from a public facility,” said Matt Sharp, Tedesco’s co-counsel on the case. “We hope our letter will help clear up the misinformation upon which the VA is acting and that it will lift its unnecessary and unconstitutional ban.”

The alliance issued its letter Monday from its Georgia office and expects the Augusta VA to receive it Tuesday. Pete Scovill, a spokesman for the Augusta VA, declined comment until receipt of the letter, which he said the hospital has yet to receive.

In its defense, VA administration cited last week a 2008 rule in the Veterans Health Administration Handbook, stating that its leadership “may restrict or prohibit any practice that it deems detrimental to the health or safety of patients.”

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GACopprhed
2136
Points
GACopprhed 12/31/13 - 06:06 am
5
13
Conversion by force, rather
Unpublished

Conversion by force, rather than attraction. So they DEMAND that they be allowed to force their views on others. That is NOT Christ-like in any way, manner or form. Christ didn't demand to be heard, He was listened to because His Words were Truth. He didn't advocate for revolution, or whine that people didn't want to hear what He had to say. He condemned those who made Christianity a show, "lengthening their phylacteries" to show piety and to garner favorable public views. This is what is happening today. If you think that there's a war on Christianity, you're right, and this kind of junk doesn't further the cause of Christianity one bit. Proselytes and Pharisees is what I see today, and they should listen to Pope Francis, rather than Rush Limbaugh.

InChristLove
22480
Points
InChristLove 12/31/13 - 06:29 am
9
4
GAC, I seriously doubt these

GAC, I seriously doubt these students were trying to convert anyone. These young students weren't there to force their religion on anyone and certainly were not there to proselytize. All they wanted to do was sing some Christmas Carols to cheer up some wounded soliders. I suppose you believe the students in Texas who wanted to make Christmas cards for the VA Hospital there were trying to convert also when they were told you couldn't put "Merry Christmas" or anything religious on the card. Sad what this world has come to.

TrukinRanger
1748
Points
TrukinRanger 12/31/13 - 07:43 am
0
0
cudos to the VA... don't give
Unpublished

cudos to the VA... don't give in to the religious christian right. If it were an Islamic group wanting to sing some religious songs they'd be wanting their heads... Keep your religion in your churches.

iaaffg
2456
Points
iaaffg 12/31/13 - 07:53 am
7
3
GAC sounds a tad bit

GAC sounds a tad bit paranoid. And also he/she/it sounds as if they have forgotten one of the tenets of our constitution: religious freedom from tyrannical-sounding people like GAC. I suppose he/she/it thinks it's a-ok for all other religions EXCEPT Christianity to practice their beliefs and sing songs and do their celebrations, with accompanying media covering it and no one raises an eyebrow (example: muslims celebrating their holy days recently covered in AC, w/accompanying pix) and not a peep of protest was heard, or if there were peeps, we didn't hear about it. this is ok. it's ok for your schools to be teaching your children about muslims, no peep or cry of 'foul!' heard, your tax dollars, folks, going to funds to teach our kids about terrorists and a religion that treats women like dogdirt, but that's ok, according to anyone who gets their panties in an absolute twist over the word Christian or any parts thereof. GAC is right about one thing: God nor Jesus will force anyone to them; They are just there, waiting for those who will hear and acknowledge Their presence. As for singing carols: if anyone thinks this is forcing Christianity on folks, what do you think when you walk in a store or restaurant and they are playing atrocious rap music....d'you think they are trying to force you into being a thug and adopt thug views? Get a grip.

ymnbde
9894
Points
ymnbde 12/31/13 - 08:03 am
2
3
ahh, but Zuzu grew up, and realized that every time an angel

does get her wings
a bureaucrat clips them
so we have 2nd amendment free zones
and now 1st amendment free zones
but oh my goodness, i suppose these kids could have been
"agents! (perhaps secret) of the state! right here at Alleluia community!"
it's the greatest conspiracy theory of all time!
the government can't make a law "respecting an establishment of religion"
so these kids must be capable of making such laws, and actively engaged in the process of doing so! simply by singing! the human voice does, i've heard (pun), have such powers
so C'head, these kids are "advocating for revolution?"
wow... that's really far out, man
almost like not knowing that increasing the doctor to patient ratio
will do no harm
and decreasing the payer to doctor ratio
will do no harm
pretty long phylacteries ya got there...

galaxygrl
1230
Points
galaxygrl 12/31/13 - 08:24 am
12
4
Ask the Vets

My husband has been treated at the VA for many years and I can tell you if someone offered a prayer or was praying for someone else in his room, he would ask for a prayer too. Nothing like facing death to make you ask for reassurance and protection. Let them sing, if Miley has the right to act the way she does (and I am sure there are Veterans that were forced to watch that on TV) then carols should be allowed in season.

grouse
1635
Points
grouse 12/31/13 - 08:54 am
0
0
The patients are a captive
Unpublished

The patients are a captive audience.

Bodhisattva
6296
Points
Bodhisattva 12/31/13 - 09:14 am
5
4
Jeremy Tedesco and Alliance Defending Freedom

Formerly the Alliance Defense Fund. The group that sued because a school district wouldn't let a 5th grade teacher pass out religious tracts to his students and (because they had and excerpt from the Declaration of Independence) Fox, being the right wing propaganda machine that it is, played into a big story about "a school district that no longer teaches The Declaration of Independence?" The group that also thinks anti bullying policies should have a religious "out". You should be able to harrass and bully people as much, as hard, and as long as you want, as long as it's for religious reasons. One of the founders is Larry Burkett, conspiracy theorist and supreme nutcase of nutcases, Don Wildmon, founder of the AFA (Spongebob is gay!), Bill Bright, Campus Crusade (and Vonette 7 Mountains Dominionism. The American Taliban.). Nuts. Nuts who are no different than the Taliban. They wish to turn America into a theocracy. They've supported "christian" thugs in Africa who think the death penalty is just fine for homosexuality, what make you think they feel any different about it here? Why not anything that doesn't support their own version of what religion is supposed to be? Dangerous and crazy zealots.

corgimom
33145
Points
corgimom 12/31/13 - 09:25 am
4
8
Yeah, sure, I'm sure the VA

Yeah, sure, I'm sure the VA is just cowering at this.

corgimom
33145
Points
corgimom 12/31/13 - 09:25 am
5
7
“The Constitution clearly

“The Constitution clearly prohibits the VA from targeting religious Christmas carols for exclusion from a public facility,” said Matt Sharp, Tedesco’s co-counsel on the case."

Uh...it does?

JimS
160
Points
JimS 12/31/13 - 09:28 am
2
3
We who serve don't serve religion nor political ideology
Unpublished

And those who send us into wars they cheer on don't fully serve us!!!
The Abandoning of the missions and the purposes of, along with the once
again promises to the Afghan people, first time was after the
Afghan/Soviet long war, quickly after 9/11, with the Lives still being lost, those serving still being wounded!!! Giving rise to, with the rhetoric from within, not a victory over, and spread of al Qaeda type ideology criminal terrorism!!!

The Cost of War, All Costs, the Responsibility of Those Served

"12 years also is a long time. We now have a lifetime responsibility
to a generation of service members, veterans and their families." Dr. Jonathan Woodson 11 Sep. 2013: 'With 9/11 Came Lifetime Responsibility'

There's only one branch of Government, Federal and States, consistently
doing for not only us Veterans' but also the Military personal and their
Families and without the control of the Countries purse strings and combining
the Cabinet agencies abilities to help where possible with their
budgets. That's the whole Executive branch under President Obama. Doing
what Congress, and State legislatures in passing feel patriotic support bills that are unfunded, and the people represented by them and served by the
Military refuse to do, Sacrifice, especially the wealthy!

Decades, and wars of, of under funding the VA. With these two recent
wars little was done for the Veterans of as well as the Military
personal, i.e. Walter Reed as one example, and their Families, in the
first years of both under the previous executive branch and those
congresses. Rubber stamped war costs, off the books and on the countries
credit card with no bid private contracts, including building an
expensive private merc army! That's not adding in all the other rubber
stamped costs of the bush administration policy wants, especially in the
first six years of!

Rachel Maddow: "We got a huge round of tax cuts in
this country a few weeks before 9/11. Once 9/11 happened and we invaded
Afghanistan, we kept the tax cuts anyway.
How did we think we were going to pay for that war? Did we think it was
free?

Then, when we started a second simultaneous war in another country, we
gave ourselves a second huge round of tax cuts. After that second war
started. The wars, I guess, we thought would be free, don`t worry about
it, civilians. Go about your business." 23 May 2013

"If military action is worth our troops’ blood, it should be worth
our treasure, too" "not just in the abstract, but in the form of a
specific ante by every American." -Andrew Rosenthal 10 Feb. 2013

David (CBS News) Martin: "Then there's the financial cost. To date,
the Pentagon has spent more than $500 billion on the war in Afghanistan.
A defense spending bill the Senate is expected to pass this week would
add another $80 billion to that." 17 December 2013

That's not counting those decades to come results from costs and the once again ignored, by those served, issues!

The wars, neither Afghanistan nor Iraq, have yet been paid for. Nor
especially the now decades to come, DeJa-Vu all over again, the of
results for those sent, over and over, and the continuing under funding
the Peoples Responsibility, the Veterans Administration charged with
much more then just caring for the wounded, as those served ignore most
of those results from!!

'Cost of War' site {real and estimated costs}: "Total
US federal spending associated with the Iraq war has been $1.7 trillion
through FY2013. In addition, future health and disability payments for
veterans will total $590 billion and interest accrued to pay for the war
will add up to $3.9 trillion." 19 March 2013 © 2011 Watson Institute, Brown University

USN All Shore '67-'71 GMG3 Vietnam In Country '70-'71

citizen7
49
Points
citizen7 12/31/13 - 10:11 am
2
3
Our Constitution protects our

Our Constitution protects our freedom of religion; freedom to choose how we wish to worship and practice our faith - both in the privacy of our homes and, less-and-less, in the public square. Note: it is Freedom OF religion, not FROM religion. Some believe religious freedom should be relegated to your own place of worship; behind closed doors, so to speak. That doesn't sound like freedom of religion/expression to me. Is someone being violent in the public square? Have them arrested, wether a religous zealot or not, per our laws. Is someone singing some Christian songs in the public square, peacefully? ...Kick them out?

CobaltGeorge
160708
Points
CobaltGeorge 12/31/13 - 10:12 am
1
5
Freedom Under The 1st No Longer exist!

Little or none of this has been news worthy. Thank your Hammer & Sickle man.

http://www.mrconservative.com/2013/12/29650-obama-secretly-signs-no-free...

CobaltGeorge
160708
Points
CobaltGeorge 12/31/13 - 10:14 am
2
5
Many

like GAC, Bod and un-American followers like them have won.

grinder48
1975
Points
grinder48 12/31/13 - 10:54 am
0
0
JimS
Unpublished

No matter what your position, very few folks are going to read such long posts ...

Bizkit
32080
Points
Bizkit 12/31/13 - 11:49 am
2
2
This is just legal

This is just legal maneuvering to tie things up. The SCOTUS has already declined to hear cases from 2004 related to singing religious songs at schools, etc. Weird that many of the things baby boomers experienced are now illegal. You can't pray in school (even a moment of silence) but if you are Santeria you can sacrifice a chicke

corgimom
33145
Points
corgimom 12/31/13 - 12:51 pm
4
3
I still don't understand the

I still don't understand the fuss about this; they told the Alleluia people that
1) they could sing religious carols in a meeting room or a chapel

2) they could sing secular songs in the public waiting area

and Alleluia chose not to sing.

Hmmm. Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

corgimom
33145
Points
corgimom 12/31/13 - 12:52 pm
3
3
I wonder if Jeremy Tedesco

I wonder if Jeremy Tedesco knows the real story, because it doesn't sound like he does.

InChristLove
22480
Points
InChristLove 12/31/13 - 01:41 pm
1
3
Hide it under a bushel, Oh

Hide it under a bushel, Oh No! I'm going to let it shine..........

robert2410
1628
Points
robert2410 12/31/13 - 02:26 pm
1
4
Good for them, we are tired
Unpublished

Good for them, we are tired of liberal intolerence of our Christian faith. If they hate Christians so much let them move to the Middle East and live under sharia law.

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