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VA will not respond to caroling demand

Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014 11:37 AM
Last updated 8:36 PM
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Federal attorneys at the Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Medical Center have decided not to respond to demands by a Christian-based legal group that the hospital rescind its policy prohibiting school children and other well-wishers from singing religious Christmas carols in public patient areas.

Spokesman Pete Scovill said this week that the facility’s local legal team will instead wait until the Alliance Defending Freedom files a lawsuit stating its case of why the hospital’s decision to exclude religious music violates the free speech clause of the First Amendment.

The decision to wait comes two weeks after the alliance’s deadline for the VA to respond to a letter it mailed hospital Director Bob Hamilton stating that the facility’s policy on caroling is illegal and appears to be nothing more than “political correctness run amok.”

Jeremy Tedesco, the senior legal counsel leading the alliance’s case, initially said if no action were taken, a lawsuit could be considered. The House Committee on Veterans Affairs has ordered a review of all VA policy preventing guests from wishing patients a “Merry Christmas” after letters, gifts and carols that contained religious phrases were prohibited from being sung or delivered in Augusta; Dallas; Montgomery, Ala.; and Iowa City, Iowa.

“We are still evaluating our legal options, but we are certainly pleased that the VA has come under public scrutiny by members of Congress for its trampling of these students’ First Amendment rights,” Tedesco said in an e-mail to The Augusta Chronicle on Thursday.

The caroling debate began Dec. 20 when Augusta’s downtown VA hospital told high school students from Alleluia Community School that they must choose different music if they want to perform in the public areas in light of a 5-year-old policy it was more strictly enforcing.

Despite facing no resistance at the hospital in 2011 and 2012, the students were given a pre-approved list of 12 nonreligious 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.

In its defense, the 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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corgimom
38280
Points
corgimom 01/23/14 - 11:39 am
1
10
They aren't going to respond

They aren't going to respond because they know that "Alliance Defending Freedom" has no case.

whyme
2109
Points
whyme 01/23/14 - 12:17 pm
3
1
Here's the thing

Everyone wants to be politically correct these days, and that's all well and good but it doesn't apply across the board to everyone and every event. I say go back to plain old-fashioned morals and ethics and go from there. With that said, how about some common sense? If you invite a group with a known philosophy or purpose, you can't ask them to go against their belief to accommodate you. Either don't invite them to your facility, your job, your church or your home, or allow them to come with the freedom to act on their beliefs. It's not complicated, really. Do your homework, decide if the individual or group has a philosophy that meets your needs, and then go with it....or don't.

InChristLove
22485
Points
InChristLove 01/23/14 - 12:45 pm
10
1
No Corgimom, they'll just

No Corgimom, they'll just calling a bluff to see if the Alliance will really file a lawsuit. It's a gamble but one they can address if the Alliance files. No sense addressing the issue if the Alliance backs down and just lets it go.

GACopprhed
2136
Points
GACopprhed 01/23/14 - 01:19 pm
0
0
It's obvious that the whole
Unpublished

It's obvious that the whole this was an attempt to push on this. They were offered to sing in the chapel, the most APPROPRIATE place for CHRISTIAN carols to be sung, and they refused. The VA made good faith efforts to accommodate the carolers and THEY REFUSED. They don't have a leg to stand on. I don't recall reading that the group was invited to the VA, but that they asked to appear, so Whyme is correct in opinion but not in facts. Even Jesus said not to go where you're not wanted: Mark 6:11
And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them."
Leave it to God, He will work it out much better than you can.

Red Headed Step Child
4469
Points
Red Headed Step Child 01/23/14 - 02:37 pm
11
2
Yep

Caroling is definitely detrimental to the health and safety of patients. What a crock..justify it however you want. This is just another example on how to give to one, you have to take from another.

In all my years I've never heard of anyone who's health and safety was in danger just from hearing a song about the birth of Jesus Christ.

Just My Opinion
6251
Points
Just My Opinion 01/23/14 - 03:39 pm
6
1
It's an obvious bluff.

It's an obvious bluff. Watching to see if this group has the cahonees to sue. I hope they fo sue them. If they win, then the Christmas carols will continue. And if they were to lose, then it would most likely bring HUGE national attention to this situation, enough so that our politicos might have to weigh in and try to be the heroes by fixing it, in an effort to boost their image.

deestafford
31720
Points
deestafford 01/23/14 - 03:55 pm
6
2
This is just a bunch of horse squeeze....

This is just a bunch of horse squeeze and is emblematic of the anti-religious attitude of the Obama administration. Not only is it in the VA, it's in the military as well with the DoD now telling military members what religious symbols they can wear and which ones they can't. In 27 years in the Army this was never an issue because the soldiers understood what the uniform policy was.

The DoD has even gone so far as to tell NCOs and officers they cannot have a copy of the Bible on their desk or a picture of Jesus on the wall of their office.

Folks, we are getting worse and worse everyday as we go further and further from the ideals of our Founders.

corgimom
38280
Points
corgimom 01/23/14 - 05:48 pm
2
7
Deestafford, perhaps you are

Deestafford, perhaps you are unaware of the Sikhs that sought to wear their turbans with their uniforms. They had to fight for that right.

I saw them all the time at DDEAMC. That was back in the 80's.

corgimom
38280
Points
corgimom 01/23/14 - 05:50 pm
4
6
"The DoD has even gone so far

"The DoD has even gone so far as to tell NCOs and officers they cannot have a copy of the Bible on their desk or a picture of Jesus on the wall of their office."

And that is appropriate. Because not everybody in the military is Christian. Would you be ok with a NCO having the Quran on his desk and a picture of Mohammed on the wall?

And, for the record, the Founding Fathers were Deists, not Christians, which is why there is no mention of Jesus Christ in the Constitution or Bill of Rights or Declaration of Independence.

LCC0256
634
Points
LCC0256 01/23/14 - 07:31 pm
7
4
go back to mothering your dogs

because your statement regarding the faith of our founding fathers (and mothers) is incorrect corgi mom...and by the way there were NO islamist, sikhs, buddhist, in the mix. The God of our forefathers was the God of Abraham (specific to the Bible)
I like many other posters do hope that those dogs are in fact the only form of life you are responsible for....

harley_52
25799
Points
harley_52 01/23/14 - 08:37 pm
6
1
"the 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.”

Well, there you have it. All this nonsense about "separation of church and state" has all been a smoke screen.

Somebody (assumedly the local VA Manager) made the decision it would be "unsafe" for patients to have the little kids sing carols.

Total Political Correctness/anti-Christian, left-wing agenda at work here. The guy should be fired.

But I'm pretty sure he won't be. Instead, he's made points with the Obama Administration.

corgimom
38280
Points
corgimom 01/23/14 - 10:10 pm
4
6
Nobody said it would be

Nobody said it would be unsafe, Harley.

There are people out there that aren't Christian and that are anti-Christmas. There are even some Christians that are against it, too. That is their right, and that right is protected under the Constitution, regardless of what our personal feelings about Christmas are.

The people in the hospital are ill, and when people are ill, little things that are normally just minor irritants can cause great stress in sick patients. The patients belong in that hospital, that's what it's there for; it's not an entertainment venue, and patient and staff needs comes first.

The VA has the task of providing a pleasant, professional atmosphere for all their patients, not just the Christian ones.

The choir would've been welcome to sing their religious carols in the chapel, where the people who CHOSE to hear them sing could do so.

Somehow this has gotten twisted that the VA refused to let them sing, and that just isn't true. It is amazing to me that Christians would spread that untruth, but that's what has happened.

We all have to live under the Constitution, not just the parts that we agree with or the things that we like.

Having the choir sing in the chapel was the appropriate thing for the VA to do. That way, everybody could be treated with respect. And had the choir gone to the chapel and sung, it all would've worked out just fine.

The real question is- why would the choir refuse to sing in a chapel? Wouldn't you think that they would be eager to do so? What Christian choir would ever refuse to sing in a chapel?

Makes you wonder what their real purpose was, you know?

corgimom
38280
Points
corgimom 01/23/14 - 10:16 pm
5
4
LCC, no, the Founding Fathers

LCC, no, the Founding Fathers were Deists. I'm sorry if you don't agree with that, but it's true.

As for your last statement, about how you hope that my dogs are the only forms of life that I'm responsible for- nope, sorry for that one, too.

But hey, thanks for that remark, your Christianity shines through so clearly on that one. Your so-called scathing remarks are wasted on me, but if that's what you feel you need to do, that's ok with me. It says everything about you and the person that you are, and nothing about me.

deestafford
31720
Points
deestafford 01/23/14 - 11:24 pm
4
4
Cogi, You are wrong about the Founding Fathers...

Cogi, You are wrong about the Founding Fathers being deists. If I had the time to search my library right now I could list each of the Founders and their religions. Of all the signers of the Declaration there were only three that I recall who could be classified as a deist. If you would read the history and the writings of the Founders and the minutes of the meetings you would see they made numerous references to God and to Jesus. The canard as to them being deists is just a further attempt by the progressive/Marxist to sanitize Christianity from our history and its importance to the Founders and the Founding of America.Please go back and read original source documents and not talking points or synopsis of interpretations by the left.

As to the soldiers with their head dress and beards, have you ever tried to get a proper seal on a protective mask wearing a beard? It doesn't work.

As far as a leader having a Quaran on his desk, that would not bother me in the least. As to having a picture of Mohammad on the wall that would be impossible because it's against the Islamic religion to show any image of the prophet.

angelcoach
6
Points
angelcoach 01/24/14 - 12:59 am
4
1
as to health

On the day in question children all over the United States of America voluntarily traveled to hospitals, nursing homes, and rehab facilities to share the joy of the Christmas message with those who might be shut in, ill, or injured. This has been a tradition for both public and private school children for so many years that no one even thinks twice about it. I challenge you to pull up one story of a patient injured or harmed by hearing a carol sung in one of these facilities. There is no ulterior motive here, only a ridiculous policy aimed at pleasing someone who thinks that Christians are running amok and must be contained. Does anyone think that the carols that are sung by even our president are a special form of religious proselytizing that the public must be protected from? By assigning the singers to the chapel (that would be empty at the time) the intent of singing to patients who were hospital and bed bound would be defeated. The students had a chapel at their school they could have sung in, but chose to leave that comfort and bring some to those less fortunate than themselves. Questioning their "real" motives is uncivil. I personally have taken students caroling to similiar places for many years and have yet to see any detrimental effect as a product or hear any complaints from the greatful listeners or even the ungreatful listeners for that matter. To comment on the issue in order to try to sully the participants is ridiculous. You might agree with the VA, whatever your reasoning, but even they were not questioning the motives of the carolers. They weren't even trying to protect patients, but mistakenly trying to protect against something that wasn't even assailing them. Public singing of carols is so accepted in our country that attempts like this to quiet it can't be percieved as anything as heavyhanded and therefore recieve the attention it has gotten. The VA might not be responding to the letter concerning the incident, but that doesn't mean they were correct in their stance. Leaning on the “may restrict or prohibit any practice that it deems detrimental to the health or safety of patients.”, clause is so ludicrous I wouldn't be eager to respond either. This is a matter of a policy taken so out of context that it just does not fit the situation for which it was intended. What does the poster of the comments disparaging the carolers true motives hope to gain? Was she there? Does she have special insight into the motives of people she probably does not even know? Take a step back and don't be so supportive of policy that serves no one.

InChristLove
22485
Points
InChristLove 01/24/14 - 04:41 am
3
3
" your Christianity shines

" your Christianity shines through so clearly on that one"

This is the pot calling the kettle.....oh to be so self-righteous and judgmental of others. Someone give this person a mirror.

nocnoc
49121
Points
nocnoc 01/24/14 - 06:39 am
3
0
A wise man once said

It is best to put the shovel down
and quit digging a hole when you
are in over your head.

ymnbde
10662
Points
ymnbde 01/24/14 - 07:00 am
3
1
bureaucrats going vrroom vrroom!

government establishment of religion takes many forms
one of which is not high school kids singing traditional
Christmas carols
it's simply absurd
and the VA bureaucrat who thinks high school kids can establish a religion
by singing traditional Christmas carols
is obviously redlining
his cognitive engine

harley_52
25799
Points
harley_52 01/24/14 - 07:07 am
3
1
What Is It About This Sentence That's Not Clear?

""the 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.”

The VA isn't claiming any sort of problem with religion. Now they're claiming the reason the kids couldn't carol was that the caroling was deemed to be "detrimental to the health or safety of patients.”

No point in arguing something that isn't even part of the issue.

JimS
166
Points
JimS 01/24/14 - 07:25 am
2
2
We Don't Serve a 'single' Religious Ideology, 'Happy Holidays'
Unpublished

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!

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'

Where were the 'offsets' to federal spending as the rubber stamping, more then the off the books wars with no-bid contracts, was going on and claiming 'patriotism' for?

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

InChristLove
22485
Points
InChristLove 01/24/14 - 08:14 am
3
2
What in the heck is JimS

What in the heck is JimS talking about and what is his point?

Bizkit
35456
Points
Bizkit 01/24/14 - 09:10 am
2
0
They prevent the patients

They prevent the patients from receiving any religious christmas cards or materials? That definitely is an infringement on their constitutional rights. Public singing one thing but preventing individuals receiving religious affiliated material is wrong.

ymnbde
10662
Points
ymnbde 01/24/14 - 10:18 am
0
1
harley the sentence has changed...

there was a different reason at first
look up the first few stories
"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..."
it is indeed about religion

itsanotherday1
48193
Points
itsanotherday1 01/24/14 - 11:09 am
1
0
#

#

CobaltGeorge
175282
Points
CobaltGeorge 01/24/14 - 11:11 am
1
1
anotherday,

You beat me to it, Thanks.

harley_52
25799
Points
harley_52 01/24/14 - 11:36 am
2
0
ymnbde...

Yes, I have read the previous report and also hundreds of comments from commenters. Still, the VA has dropped the religious aspects of the action, assumedly because they see now it doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

Now, losing on the religious/Constitutional premise they first argued, they've fallen back on this "health and safety" claim. It doesn't wash either.

The fact is, they had a left-wing, agenda pushing person who made a bad decision and now they're trying their damnedest to explain it away. It's not working. Whoever made the decision to not allow the children to sing and then tried to hang it on a Constitutional issue should be FIRED.

I suggest we all contact our Senators and Representatives and make our opinions known......in no uncertain terms.

myfather15
56423
Points
myfather15 01/24/14 - 12:07 pm
1
1
"It is amazing to me that

"It is amazing to me that Christians would spread that untruth, but that's what has happened."

This, coming from someone who is constantly spreading untruths, is not surprising!!

myfather15
56423
Points
myfather15 01/24/14 - 12:18 pm
1
1
"LCC, no, the Founding

"LCC, no, the Founding Fathers were Deists. I'm sorry if you don't agree with that, but it's true."

What makes this true? Because YOU said it? Is that how this world goes? Because YOU are not right either!!

Some were actual atheists!! Some were deists BUT, the majority were CHRISTIANS and that is a FACT CORGIMOM!!

So to set there and generally say the "founding fathers" were deists is a lie!! Not all were deists and not all were Christians!! Some believed in NO higher being.

But, if you REALLY looked into history, instead of assuming you know everything; you would find those "deists" you are referring to attended CHRISTIAN CHURCHES!!!

There are at least 55 "Founding Fathers" and some say as many as 79. But most people can only name the most famous ones; Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Jay, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Paine. So most people have ZERO idea what the MAJORITY of the "Founding Fathers" believed!!

So, you're statement is so full of ignorance and ARROGANCE, it shouldn't even be addressed!!

myfather15
56423
Points
myfather15 01/24/14 - 12:26 pm
1
1
deestafford

You can't waste FACTS, on someone who already believes they know EVERYTHING!!! Including how a Christian should act!! This is typical leftist JUNK from her!! They always repeat the same LIES, straight out of the Goebbles handbook!!! Because they know if they repeat it enough, IGNORANT people will believe it!! But they can't get people like you and I who KNOW THE TRUTH!!

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