ADF: VA hospital should lift ban on Christmas carolers

Federally run Georgia medical center says veterans need ‘protection from unwelcomed religious material’
Monday, December 30, 2013

Attorney sound bites:  Jeremy Tedesco  |  Matt Sharp

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Alliance Defending Freedom sent a letter Monday to a federally run veterans’ hospital in Georgia that recently banned Christmas carolers from singing religious songs in its public patient areas to protect veterans “from unwelcomed religious material.” Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center told high school students from Augusta’s Alleluia Community School last week that they must choose different music if they want to perform in the public areas in light of the new policy.

“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,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “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.”

According to news reports, the students sang religious carols at the hospital in 2011 and 2012 with no resistance from officials. This year, however, when the students arrived to sing at the hospital, officials provided them with a pre-approved list of 12 non-religious Christmas songs that the hospital’s Pastoral Service had reportedly “deemed appropriate for celebration within the hearing range of all veterans” and said the students could not sing any other songs except in the hospital’s chapel.

The Alliance Defending Freedom letter explains that “every federal court to examine the issue has determined that permitting religious Christmas carols to be sung at public facilities like the Medical Center fully complies with the First Amendment…. The Medical Center’s policy appears to be nothing more than political correctness run amok, and we thus urge you to immediately rescind the new policy instituted by the Medical Center’s administration.”

“The Constitution clearly prohibits the VA from targeting religious Christmas carols for exclusion from a public facility,” added Legal Counsel Matt Sharp. “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.”

Alliance Defending Freedom has encountered numerous other instances of actual or attempted Christmas censorship this season in Kalispell, Mt., West Columbia, S.C., Rock Hill, S.C., Bordentown, N.J., and Wausau, Wis. Alliance Defending Freedom issued a letter in November to more than 13,000 public school districts nationwide to explain the constitutionality of religious Christmas carols and offer free assistance to schools that need help.
  • Pronunciation guide: Tedesco (Tuh-DESS’-koh)
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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