The Veterans Administration hospital in Salem, Virginia–a government run hospital–is banning “religious” carols, Christmas trees and “Merry Christmas” from public areas, according to The Becket Fund, a nonprofit law firm to protect religious liberty.
“Our veterans stare down the most hostile threats to freedom the world has ever known. But I’m pretty sure the words ‘Merry Christmas’ are not one of them,” said The Becket Fund’s Executive Director Kristina Arriaga. “Hospital leaders should have a Christmas cookie and lighten up; a little Christmas cheer never hurt anyone.”
The Becket Fund released a press release on Thursday awarding the hospital the Ebenezer Award, “awarded for the most ridiculous affront to the Christmas and Hanukkah,” because of the ban on holiday cheer.
After resistance from hospital employees, the management of the Veterans Administration Medical Center caved on the Christmas tree ban— saying that trees are allowed as long they are accompanied by a Menorah for Hanukkah and a Mkeka for Kwanzaa. Good for them. But hospital employees are still banned from wishing veterans a “Merry Christmas” or playing “religious” Christmas music — even in their own personal work space. Other VA hospitals in the past have reportedly banned wrapping paper that said “Merry Christmas,” rejected “Christmas” cards from local schoolchildren, and ordered carolers to sing only government-approved secular songs.
“I like ‘Jingle Bells’ as much as the next person, but the government can’t ban ‘religious’ Christmas carols any more than it can ban ugly sweaters or eggnog,” Arriaga stated in the press release.