• Ya Don’t Say! Court Decides VA Allowed to Have Bible on Display

    Daily Surge Summary: The Supreme Court rules that a Veterans Affairs Hospital is allowed to maintain a public exhibit featuring a Bible. 

    Allow me to go on record: Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you, Mr. Big, All-Controlling Government, for permitting Americans to display the most influential book in the history of the world in a public space. How very, very grand of you!

    Okay, I’ve gotten my sarcasm fix for the day …

    Actually, an encouraging decision has lately emerged from the Supreme Court. Michael Foust over at Christianheadlines.com details:

    Two months after one of its hospitals was sued over the display of a Bible, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has revised its policy on religious liberty to clarify what is allowed.

    The new policy, according to the department, will permit “religious literature, symbols and displays” and “protect religious liberty” at VA facilities while “ensuring inclusivity and nondiscrimination.”

    Again – sorry, a brief return to sarcasm upcoming – imagine that! The State is “permitting” an expression of the faith that played a central role in the founding of our nation.

    Accompanying the implementation of the policy which took effect July 3, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said,

    “We want to make sure that all of our Veterans and their families feel welcome at VA, no matter their religious beliefs. Protecting religious liberty is a key part of how we accomplish that goal. These important changes will bring simplicity and clarity to our policies governing religious and spiritual symbols, helping ensure we are consistently complying with the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution at thousands of facilities across the department.”

    A lawsuit was filed in May on behalf of veteran James Chamberlain against the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Manchester, N.H. Mr. Chamberlain’s gripe? A POW/MIA public arrangement comprising a Bible atop a table with a plate, drinking glass, candle, flower, American flag and salt shaker. An empty chair, also part of the display, serves to represent a person who was imprisoned or went missing in action.

    The source of the particular copy of the Good Book was a veteran who’d been held in a German prisoner of war camp during World War II.

    The medical center had temporarily moved the Bible from the table, but returned it to its place, this time under a locked plexiglass box. Curious: was that to protect it from theft or vandalism by the lovely sources of tolerance who are insisting it is some kind of unbearable violation of the Constitution?

    The VA summarizes the new policy:

    • “Allow the inclusion in appropriate circumstances of religious content in publicly accessible displays at VA facilities.

    • “Allow patients and their guests to request and be provided religious literature, symbols and sacred texts during visits to VA chapels and during their treatment at VA.

    • “Allow VA to accept donations of religious literature, cards and symbols at its facilities and distribute them to VA patrons under appropriate circumstances or to a patron who requests them.”

    The VA statement referenced a new U.S. Supreme Court decision that allowed a 94-year-old, 40-foot war memorial cross – the Bladensburg World War I Veterans Memorial – to remain on public land.

    Mike Berry, First Liberty Institute’s director of Military Affairs hailed the new policy as a “welcome breath of fresh air.”

    “The Supreme Court recently upheld the constitutionality of religious displays with historic roots such as those commonly found in VA facilities. We commend the VA for taking this necessary and positive action.”

    On the other side, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which first brought attention to the Bible in the display – i.e., which initially stirred up this unnecessary trouble with its petty, anti-God knit-picking — criticized the new policy.

    “These brand new VA policies – clearly based upon the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent, idiotic decision in the Bladensburg Cross case – are nothing more than a transparent and repugnant attempt to further buttress and solidify fundamentalist Christianity as the insuperable official religion of choice for the VA, our Armed Forces, and this country,” [said the Foundation’s always annoying president Mikey Weinstein.]

    If nothing else, Weinstein reminds us of one essential principle: the interconnectedness of the courts’ activities. Supreme Court decisions, for good and often for ill, reflect, reinforce and influence one another, often for generations to come.

    You’d almost think the likes of Mikey Weinstein and his ilk don’t realize: no one is taking a firearm to the heads of Vets, their family members, visitors to VA centers, et al and forcing them to participate in religious anything. They can simply walk past or ignore a religious exhibition off in one corner of a room.

    There are folks, on the flip side, who reside in or patronize Veterans Administration facilities who actually value what something like the discreet Manchester, NH display provides. They derive some comfort or inspiration from it, particularly during periods involving a health challenge.

    And THAT is something Weinstein and Company flatly cannot abide.

    Image:  Leon Brooks – http://www.public-domain-image.com/public-domain-images-pictures-free-stock-photos/objects-public-domain-images-pictures/books-public-domain-images-pictures/holly-bible-book.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24829405

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