Policy hits a sour note

Response to proposed caroling at VA was an overreaction

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The Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center tried to play it strictly by the book.

Instead, it provided a textbook example of overreacting.

The week before Christmas, officials at the hospital’s Downtown campus put their collective foot down in enforcing a policy of banning carolers from singing religious Christmas music in the hospital’s public patient areas. As a result, high-school students from Augusta’s Alleluia Community School decided not to perform their annual caroling.

We don’t know the precise religious makeup of the local VA’s patient population. But we would guess that the hospital’s complaint box isn’t stuffed with indignant comments from patients who don’t want to hear Christmas songs. The Alleluia group reported no problems when it caroled at the VA’s Uptown campus in 2011 and 2012.

The hospital seems to be adhering to a Veterans Health Administration handbook policy that, as stated in one subsection, requires chaplains to ensure “that religion is not imposed on any patient either overtly or subtly.”

But the word “imposed” seems to imply that religious content would be forced on a patient, or that a zealous proselytizer would take advantage of a patient by demanding his or her attention. Do hospital officials really believe that the distant sound of caroling grabs patients by their hospital gowns and compels them to convert to Christianity?

It’s merely singing. As a form of religious expression, that can be very mild. Does the chime of a ghanta meditation bell somehow “impose” Hinduism or Buddhism on the listener?

In other instances, the government bends over backward to honor veterans’ freedom of religion. Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs even approved the hammer of Thor as one of about 60 religious symbols that can be inscribed on veterans’ government-issued gravestones and memorial markers.

But do veterans really have to be protected from certain holiday singing? Caroling scarcely qualifies as imposing religious persecution. For a sense of perspective, read recent news stories about the bloody, violent purge of Christianity in other parts of the world. On Christmas Day, 15 Christians died in a church bombing in Baghdad, Iraq, where Christianity has been practiced since the first century A.D.

It appears that the VA is trying to outlaw being offended. But after word of the Augusta caroling decision hit national news wires this week, the hospital inadvertently cast a wider net to offend many more people.

Alleluia students have caroled before at the VA without incident. This year’s VA decision marked a disproportionate response to something that never appeared to have been a problem.

Comments (19) Add comment
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scoopdedoop64
2366
Points
scoopdedoop64 12/27/13 - 12:00 am
9
2
Thank You

Thank you for responding to this situation. I fully agree that the VA over reacted to a this and it is just what we see happening more and more by people who are uninformed or who are so lost and angry at God that they want to do all they can to stamp out His name. But take note that one day every knee shall bow and tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!

TrukinRanger
1748
Points
TrukinRanger 12/27/13 - 06:37 am
0
0
Of course I disagree... the
Unpublished

Of course I disagree... the carolers should have never been at the VA. For any of you that have been to the Charlie Norwood VA -downtown... parking is limited, and the mail triage area is full of people that have been sitting there all day or night without a blanket feeling really icky. If they wanted to do something, bring some blankets and snacks. We have too many non-christians to just throw music at them left and right without asking first. It's no longer an open and shut case.

nofanofobama
6820
Points
nofanofobama 12/27/13 - 07:02 am
10
3
another sutle reminder of

another sutle reminder of obumlers promise to re-make america..its not by accident that chaplans are being haressed in the military for preaching the gospel...to obumler and the elistest, the govt is god..

myfather15
55706
Points
myfather15 12/27/13 - 07:02 am
10
3
The VA is federal

The VA is federal governement!! I truly believe they were just enforcing the mindset of this administration!! This administration will not tolerate anything Christian, being broadcast in their buildings.

It's just sad that patients couldn't get some cheerful caroling, during this time of year!! The Culture War, continues on!!

ymnbde
9696
Points
ymnbde 12/27/13 - 08:10 am
9
3
perhaps they should burn all the books

in which the Christmas songs are written
lest they find their way into some government building?
after all, it is censorship disguised as freedom from religion.
The directive is written in language with a finely honed vagueness so the controlling agency (inner party) can claim an error was made by the bureaucracy (outer party)
but the bureaucrat (Winston Smith) knows there was no error
by the central controlling government authority (ministry of truth, perhaps?)
censoring the content of Christmas songs
may be fine in Massachusetts
but Augusta should be able to abide by more adult reasoning
if Silent Night can actually cause harm to a person
that person needs far greater help than what can be provided
at the VA
the government has established a religion
and that religion is government

david jennings
590
Points
david jennings 12/27/13 - 08:55 am
7
2
So many problems

While we have a lot of difficult issues and search for answers it's no wonnder we find them scarce. God has not abandoned us, we have abandoned God.

myfather15
55706
Points
myfather15 12/27/13 - 09:23 am
6
3
ymnbde

"perhaps they should burn all the books, in which the Christmas songs are written
lest they find their way into some government building?"

We've already experienced this, somewhat. Remember the controversy about Bibles being in the Cabins, ran by the State? Any Christian literature, in ANY public venue is considered "offensive" to non-believers!! Let them be OFFENDED!!!

Bizkit
31242
Points
Bizkit 12/27/13 - 11:10 am
5
2
Why don't they ban Christmas

Why don't they ban Christmas altogether at the VA? They don't allow Hanukkah or Ramadan either I would guess. At least be consistent. The problem I see is it isn't the VA and govt that is providing the caroling or endorsing a religion-its private citizens. Private citizens have a constitutional right to their religion and they can celebrate how they choose. The students are "offering" to sing christmas songs and it isn't evangelizing-how stupid does the govt think people are? I guess the Doobie Brothers Jesus is just alright would be offensive too-because it says "Jesus". I would hope the VA is open to all faiths and not so restrictive. Plenty of country songs that mention "God" ban those too. Sheesh.

Bizkit
31242
Points
Bizkit 12/27/13 - 11:17 am
5
2
So if Christians at the VA

So if Christians at the VA started caroling on their own-expressing the holidays and their faiths as they struggle from war injuries-would that be banned too? Place must be a prison. I've read about allowing christmas caroling at prisons-now that's choice. VA is worse than prison, and we have the scandal their too. Bad place. A good friend of mine died from poor treatment at that hospital-the govt doesn't care about people except as expendable soldiers.

dichotomy
32708
Points
dichotomy 12/27/13 - 11:29 am
6
1
This is what happens when the

This is what happens when the government runs anything. When the government completes it's takeover of the health care system ALL hospitals and doctor's offices will be forced to remove anything associated with the Christian faith.....Muslim stuff will be okay.

As I have stated on here before, I am a non-believer but I do not see any problem with allowing this group to sing any carols of their choice in the VA hospital. I venture to say that the vast majority of patients and visitors to the VA are of the Christian faith and that even those who are not probably still celebrate Christmas as a holiday filled with a certain "spirit" and traditions that are perfectly acceptable. I think this entire episode is ridiculous. I think the crusading atheists are just as bad as the radical religious right wingers and radical Muslims. I do wish everyone would try to be more tolerant of everyone's personal beliefs and respect other's traditions.

I wish the VA showed as much concern with providing quality, responsive, health care as they do with banning Christmas carolers. They have had REAL problems lately. I am certain ALL of these problems have been motivated by attempts to save money at the expense of the health of veterans.

I have just learned that there was a recent decision to limit the number of test strips provided to patients with Type II diabetes who take oral medication to 50 test strips every 6 months (180 days). So now a diabetic is limited to testing their blood sugar to once every 3 or 4 days. Many diabetes organizations recommend those taking oral medication test their blood sugar 2 times PER DAY, but the VA in their infinite budget driven wisdom limits veterans to 1 time every 3 or 4 days. Seems to me that the VA is nickel and diming to save a few bucks at the expense of the patients, which could lead to the patient become sicker and requiring more care and more medication. I think they are being penny wise and pound foolish. But that is what you get with government run, rationed, health care......treatment by budget.......not by doctors and not by best practice.....but by budget. Oh yeh.....and no Christmas carols.

Little Lamb
45785
Points
Little Lamb 12/27/13 - 11:40 am
5
2
History

They stopped letting the children sing Christmas carols in general classes in public schools a long time ago. But public schools still allow the choruses and glee clubs to sing Christmas carols. The rationale is that the Christmas carols have historical significance and the arrangements have musical value. Perhaps an enlightened VA bureaucrat could use similar reasoning and allow Christmas carol singing in public areas of the VA as an acknowledgement that carols have historical merit.

BUT, it might be tougher to find an enlightened bureaucrat at the VA than it is to find three wise men and a virgin on the UGA campus.

justthefacts
21698
Points
justthefacts 12/27/13 - 11:43 am
4
1
Hey, wait a minute

"BUT, it might be tougher to find an enlightened bureaucrat at the VA than it is to find three wise men and a virgin on the UGA campus." I resemble that remark!!!

burninater
9580
Points
burninater 12/27/13 - 12:08 pm
2
8
Forcing living vets to listen

Forcing living vets to either listen to Christian song or leave the room should be completely unquestioned, but allowing them to have a hammer of Thor on their memorial is "bending over backwards"?

Interesting.

corgimom
32128
Points
corgimom 12/27/13 - 01:56 pm
2
4
And if a bunch of Muslims,

And if a bunch of Muslims, Moonies, or Hare Krishnas went in there and started singing and chanting, do you think that a bunch of the Christian patients would complain? OF COURSE.

And it works both ways.

corgimom
32128
Points
corgimom 12/27/13 - 02:03 pm
2
3
Dichotomy, that decision to

Dichotomy, that decision to limit test strips isn't recent- it's been like that for several years- because studies have indicated that Type II diabetics don't need to test as often as Type I's.

And that limitation applies to Medicare, Medicaid, and many private insurance carriers too, it's not limited to the VA.

corgimom
32128
Points
corgimom 12/27/13 - 02:06 pm
3
2
And dichotomy, what diabetic

And dichotomy, what diabetic associations recommend is meaningless; you need to listen to what your personal physician tells you, and follow his directions accordingly. Every person is different. And if you need more strips per your doctor, have him write you a prescription.

allhans
23612
Points
allhans 12/27/13 - 02:34 pm
4
2
"And if a bunch of Muslims,

"And if a bunch of Muslims, Moonies, or Hare Krishnas went in there and started singing and chanting....."

Why would they? To cause trouble? They know that most of the patients are Christian. Christmas carols are a different matter completely.

3WarVeteran
4
Points
3WarVeteran 12/27/13 - 03:31 pm
2
1
Another Scenario

I appreciate the scenario that one reader suggested--if an Imam were to come to the VA and chant from the Koran in a public area, there would be an outcry they'd hear in Atlanta. But here is a real scenario--it has happened at least two times. One Veteran complains to the ACLU or the Freedom from Religion Foundation (yes, it exists) and the VA gets taken to court. And their goal, having no religious celebrations, even in Chapels and Dayrooms, no religious literature, and oh yes--no Chaplains. So no one in the VA would receive spiritual support. They have already run it through the courts twice. With today's judiciary, they might just win this time.

myfather15
55706
Points
myfather15 12/27/13 - 06:51 pm
3
1
Burn

Ooooh the humanity!!! Having to actually hear a Christmas song!! I believe the government should put this in the torture category!! Maybe that is what we need to do to the detainees at Git-Mo; instead of waterboarding, lock them in a room and blast Christmas Carols into their ears, until they break and spill ALL the beans!!

Maybe the government should also ban all TV commercials with any Christmas tunes!! Ban any advertisements related to the Christmas "holiday"!!

Now, with the sarcasm over. NO!! I wouldn't give a flip about some
Islamist coming into a hospital where I'm admitted, talking to their people or singing their songs. I would ignore it as best I could and it would be over in a hour or two. I have thick skin, I believe I could handle TOLERATING a few songs!!! But tolerance, is a word SPOUTED by many leftists, but RARELY EVER, practiced!!!

Fiat_Lux
15342
Points
Fiat_Lux 12/27/13 - 07:15 pm
4
1
Have you guys noticed

what an incredibly dreary bunch of people are those who somehow think banning Christmas carols is an equitable act? The people of "Freedom From Religion" fall quite readily into that group.

Dreary, and tiresome.

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