No Merry Christmas cards allowed at VA
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Thread: No Merry Christmas cards allowed at VA

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    Posting Addict GloriaInTX's Avatar
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    Default No Merry Christmas cards allowed at VA

    Do you think it is ok for the VA to ban cards that mention Christmas?

    Boys and girls at Grace Academy in Prosper, Tex., spent most of last Friday making homemade Christmas cards for bedridden veterans at the VA hospital in Dallas.

    Fourth-grader Gracie Brown was especially proud of her card, hoping it would ?make their day because their family might live far away, and they might not have somebody to celebrate Christmas with.?

    ?I?d like them to know they?ve not been forgotten and somebody wanted to say thank you,? Gracie told MyFoxDFW.com.

    Gracie?s card read, ?Merry Christmas. Thank you for your service.? It also included an American flag.

    But the bedridden veterans at the VA hospital will never get to see Gracie?s card. Nor will they see the cards made by 51 other students. That?s because the Christmas cards violated VA policy.

    "It really didn't occur to me there would be a problem with distributing Christmas cards," said Susan Chapman, a math teacher at the academy. She's married to a veteran and volunteers with the American Legion and other veterans' organizations.

    On Monday morning the boys and girls were planning on hand delivering the cards to the wounded veterans. Chapman called the hospital to make final arrangements and that?s when she learned there was a problem.

    "I told him my students made cards, we'd like to bring them down for the veterans," Chapman told the television station. "And he said, 'That's great. We're thrilled to have them, except the only thing is, we can't accept anything that says ?Merry Christmas' or ?God bless you' or any scriptural references because of all the red tape.'"

    A VA official quoted the policy which is in the Veterans Health Administration handbook:

    "In order to be respectful of our veterans' religious beliefs, all donated holiday cards are reviewed by a multi-disciplinary team of staff led by chaplaincy services and determined if they are appropriate (non-religious) to freely distribute to patients. We regret this process was not fully explained to this group and apologize for any misunderstanding."

    Hiram Sasser, director of litigation for Liberty Institute, said it was a new low ?even for the Scrooges and Grinches at the VA.?

    ?Targeting the benevolent work of little children for censorship is disgusting,? Sasser told me. ?Do the Grinches in the administration of the VA really believe our bravest warriors need protection from the heartfelt well wishes of small children saying Merry Christmas??

    Andrea Brown, Gracie?s mom, was dumbfounded by the news.

    ?This wasn?t the country I grew up in, when you couldn?t say ?Merry Christmas,? you couldn?t say ?God bless you? or reference any scripture,? she told MyFoxDFW.com.

    She told the television station the boys and girls were heartbroken that the military personnel would not be able to receive their cards.

    "They couldn't believe the people that these people they wanted to honor weren't going to get the chance to see what they had done," she said.

    The cards will not be thrown away -- they are being shipped to Brook Army Medical Center in San Antonio and to a private facility for veterans in Louisiana.

    Sasser said at some point, ?does the VA have no shame??

    ?Mr. Potter from ?It?s a Wonderful Life? wouldn?t even ban little children from wishing our veterans Merry Christmas,? Sasser said.
    VA hospital refuses to accept 'Merry Christmas' cards | Fox News
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    I read an article from a different source that properly explained the policy. Cards with Christmas or religious content are distributed on an individual basis if that person has said it's okay, and after that, they distribute non-religious ones freely. The ones that are still religious but can't get distributed there go to another hospital that doesn't have the same policy.

    So it's not really that the cards go to waste or that no one can get them.
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    “In order to be respectful of our Veterans religious beliefs, all donated holiday cards are reviewed by a multi-disciplinary team of staff led by Chaplaincy services and determined if they are appropriate (non-religious) to freely distribute to patients. After the review is complete, the holiday cards that reference religious and/or secular tones are then distributed by Chaplaincy Service on a one-on-one basis if the patient agrees to the religious reference in the holiday card donation. The holiday cards that do not contain religious and/or secular tones are distributed freely to patients across the Health Care System. We regret this process was not fully explained to this group and apologize for any misunderstanding.”
    I don't see the problem in the policy. Sounds very respectful to all involved.
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    Community Host Alissa_Sal's Avatar
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    I agree, having it explained better, the policy sounds fine. I also think it's very telling that the original article deleted the part about how the religious cards are then distributed to patients that agree to receive religious cards, to make it sound much worse than it is.
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    Posting Addict GloriaInTX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by freddieflounder101 View Post
    I read an article from a different source that properly explained the policy. Cards with Christmas or religious content are distributed on an individual basis if that person has said it's okay, and after that, they distribute non-religious ones freely. The ones that are still religious but can't get distributed there go to another hospital that doesn't have the same policy.

    So it's not really that the cards go to waste or that no one can get them.
    If that is the case why did they just refuse them? Are you saying that not one person in the VA hospital in Dallas would give permission to accept a card? I find that a little hard to believe. It didn't say they were going to pass them out individually, it said they were going to ship them ALL to Brooks and a non VA hopsital.

    Here is a copy of the letter that Liberty Institute sent to the VA.
    http://www.libertyinstitute.org/document.doc?id=123
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    Quote Originally Posted by GloriaInTX View Post
    If that is the case why did they just refuse them? Are you saying that not one person in the VA hospital in Dallas would give permission to accept a card? I find that a little hard to believe. It didn't say they were going to pass them out individually, it said they were going to ship them ALL to Brooks and a non VA hopsital.

    Here is a copy of the letter that Liberty Institute sent to the VA.
    http://www.libertyinstitute.org/document.doc?id=123
    I'm guessing they didn't go through the vetting procedure. But it seriously doesn't matter enough to me to dig up more articles on it. There are so many real injustices in this world...this one isn't really a big deal and it just seems like part of the mythical "war on Christmas" babble.
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    Posting Addict GloriaInTX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by freddieflounder101 View Post
    I'm guessing they didn't go through the vetting procedure. But it seriously doesn't matter enough to me to dig up more articles on it. There are so many real injustices in this world...this one isn't really a big deal and it just seems like part of the mythical "war on Christmas" babble.
    Of course because it's just more of the same. Who cares if Christians get their rights trampled on, no big deal. Of course if it were Muslims or some other group being discriminated against everyone would be all over it. Who cares about some bed-ridden old people in a VA hospital that could have had a personal visit from some children with a card but instead got to spend the day alone. It sure is a good thing that they were protected from someone saying Merry Christmas to them, especially when it is a good guess that at least 80% of them are Christians.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GloriaInTX View Post
    Of course because it's just more of the same. Who cares if Christians get their rights trampled on, no big deal. Of course if it were Muslims or some other group being discriminated against everyone would be all over it. Who cares about some bed-ridden old people in a VA hospital that could have had a personal visit from some children with a card but instead got to spend the day alone. It sure is a good thing that they were protected from someone saying Merry Christmas to them, especially when it is a good guess that at least 80% of them are Christians.
    All they had to do was change the cards to say Happy Holidays if that's what was at the heart of what they wanted. It's hardly having their rights trampled on, nobody was discriminated against. A teacher made a mistake and didn't know about a policy, it could have been easily fixed by having them quickly re-do the cards, or just show up with crafts they made, or whatever. The kids still could have come without the cards, too. It's probably just misplaced outrage that got in the way.
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    Posting Addict GloriaInTX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by freddieflounder101 View Post
    All they had to do was change the cards to say Happy Holidays if that's what was at the heart of what they wanted. It's hardly having their rights trampled on, nobody was discriminated against. A teacher made a mistake and didn't know about a policy, it could have been easily fixed by having them quickly re-do the cards, or just show up with crafts they made, or whatever. The kids still could have come without the cards, too. It's probably just misplaced outrage that got in the way.
    Of course the teacher didn't know about the policy, because who would think that our free speech to wish a veteran Merry Christmas would be censored? Are you saying that Happy Holiday cards are free speech but Merry Christmas isn't? What gives our government the right to determine what a person in a VA hospital is allowed to read?

    The messages on the cards clearly are the private speech of Mrs. Chapman and her
    students. See Johanns v. Livestock Mktg. ***'n, 544 U.S. 550 (2005); Pounds v. Katy Indep. Sch.
    Dist., 730 F. Supp. 2d 636 (S.D. Tex. 2010).. Such viewpoint discrimination is unlawful even in
    non-public forums for speech. See Cornelius v. NAACP Legal Def. & Educ. Fund, 473 U.S. 788
    (1985).. By refusing to accept the cards offered by Mrs. Chapman and her students the
    Department and the Medical Center committed unlawful viewpoint discrimination in violation of
    the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Likewise, the holiday card policies of the
    Department of Veterans Affairs and the Medical Center constitute unlawful religious viewpoint
    discrimination in violation of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The actions and 2
    policies of the Department and the Medical Center were and are also violations of the Religious
    Freedom Restoration Act.

    These events are particularly troubling considering the September 22, 2011 consent
    decree signed by U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Hughes in Rainey v. U.S. Dept. of Veterans
    Affairs, No. 4:11-cv-01992 (S.D. Tex. Oct. 19, 2011). That consent decree ordered the
    Department “not to ban religious speech or words, such as ‘God’ and ‘Jesus,’ in condolence
    cards or similar documents given by non-VAVS volunteer[s].” It also ordered the Department
    “not to ban, regulate, or otherwise interfere with the giving of gifts, including gifts that contain a
    religious message or viewpoint.” The consent decree remains in full force and effect until the
    year 2026.
    http://www.libertyinstitute.org/document.doc?id=123
    Last edited by GloriaInTX; 12-26-2013 at 01:18 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GloriaInTX View Post
    Of course because it's just more of the same. Who cares if Christians get their rights trampled on, no big deal. Of course if it were Muslims or some other group being discriminated against everyone would be all over it. Who cares about some bed-ridden old people in a VA hospital that could have had a personal visit from some children with a card but instead got to spend the day alone. It sure is a good thing that they were protected from someone saying Merry Christmas to them, especially when it is a good guess that at least 80% of them are Christians.
    So where is your outrage that a vet who isn't Christian was denied his/her non-secular card? Or since these are students at a private Christian school, the outrage that they might not have made a card for a Jewish vet or Muslim vet? "If you're Christian we have cards for you! If not, too bad because we only need to consider the 80% who are!"

    The cards went to another hospital, right? To me outrage seems...well.... sad. The cards weren't thrown away - other vets received them.

    When you are a part of the dominant culture, it's hard to see the other side.

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