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  • Salem VA Backs Down On Prohibition, Allows Christmas Trees After All

    The Salem Veterans Affairs medical center in Virginia has reversed its ban on the display of Christmas trees in public areas at the facility.

    The ban initially was put in place to avoid giving off the impression that the federal government promotes Christianity over any other religions associated with the holiday season, NBC affiliate WSLS 10 reports.

    “Trees (regardless of the types of ornaments used) have been deemed to promote the Christian religion and will not be permitted in any public areas this year,” the email sent to employees read.

    After major backlash from both employees and the public, management convened an employee meeting Friday afternoon and quickly caved. According to the original email sent to employees at the center,  NBC affiliate WSLS 10 reports. Salem’s position seemed strange, since even the White House is putting up a Christmas tree.

    Christmas trees can now be displayed in public areas, provided those public areas also feature symbols from other religions. Those symbols include the Jewish Menorah and the Mkeka, a decorative mat for Kwanzaa.

    While management has since flipped its position on Christmas trees, what’s unclear is if the center has changed its position on Christmas music in the work place. Employees, according to the email sent out by management, have to make sure that any music played within a private employee area is secular, as music carries across the room, which then switches private religious expression into public expression.

    VA spokesman Brian Sipp told WSLS 10 that the department had received a lot of criticism for its decision. Both employees and veterans have called WSLS to voice their disapproval.

    Follow Jonah Bennett on Twitter

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