Underneath President Trump, veterans’ hospitals can have “religious symbols” like Bibles and Christmas trees again.
The ban had been enacted underneath the Obama administration with the goal of protecting “religious liberties” and ensuring apparent “inclusivity” by denying veterans the right to have Bibles or any other items related to Christianity.
Now, the Trump administration has made adjustments to truly allow such “religious liberty” by giving veterans their right to possess religious items while at the hospital.
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Life Site News has more details on the Trump administration's repeal of the ban:
As a kid, Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie recalls, he visited a VA hospital at Christmastime.
"One of my fondest memories growing up, we used to sing Christmas carols at the VA hospital in Fayetteville, North Carolina," Wilkie told The Daily Signal, sitting in a 10th-floor office at VA headquarters on Vermont Avenue Northwest, overlooking the White House.
"Something as simple and as decent as that was being stopped," he said. "With the support of the president, we just said enough is enough."
Wilkie grew up at Fort Bragg, the son of an Army artillery commander. He himself served in both the Navy and Air Force reserves, and as a Pentagon official.
Since becoming VA secretary a little more than a year ago, he has returned to North Carolina.
"I was in my hometown. We have a beautiful chapel in the old VA hospital. And I walked in and there were no Bibles," the secretary said. "It had been stripped of the symbols of religion."
The VA revised directives to permit religious literature, symbols, and displays at agency facilities following a string of incidents in recent years in which individual medical centers banned Christmas carols and a Christmas tree, chapels removed Bibles, and chaplains faced restraints on religious expression.
Generally, the VA had inconsistent policies across the country.
Officials designed the changes to protect the religious freedom of veterans and their families.
The new guidelines, which went into effect last month, referred to the recent Supreme Court ruling allowing a cross-shaped memorial to World War I dead to continue standing on public land in Bladensburg, Maryland.
The high court's decision highlighted the important role that religious symbols play in the lives of Americans and their consistency with constitutional principles.
"The military culture has been part of my being, an important part of what I believe," Wilkie told The Daily Signal. "I've seen the effects of combat, both in uniform and out of uniform."
The Daily Signal commented on VP Mike Pence's announcement of the decision to let veterans have religious symbols and texts in their hospitals:
Veterans gave Vice President Mike Pence a standing ovation on Wednesday when he told them about the Trump administration’s reversing of the bans on religious symbols in veterans hospitals, declaring flatly, “The Bible stays.”
Pence was discussing specifically a New Hampshire lawsuit when he addressed the 101st American Legion National Convention in Indianapolis in his home state of Indiana.
“As we meet the health care needs of our veterans, let me make you another promise,” the vice president said. “This administration will always make room for the spiritual needs of our heroes at the VA as well.”
In January, the Manchester Veterans Affairs Medical Center in New Hampshire removed a Bible—carried by a prisoner of war in World War II—that was on display on a “Missing Man table” after a secularist group, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, objected.
“You might’ve heard even today that there’s a lawsuit to remove a Bible that was carried in World War II from a Missing Man table at a VA hospital in New Hampshire. There’s a lawsuit underway,” Pence said.
After receiving complaints about its removal, hospital officials restored the Bible in February. In May, however, a Vietnam veteran sued to have the Bible removed.
“It’s really no surprise, because, under the last administration, VA hospitals were removing Bibles and even banning Christmas carols in an effort to be politically correct,” Pence said.
“Let me be clear: Under this [administration], VA hospitals will not be religion-free zones,” he tweeted. “We will respect the freedom of religion for every veteran of every faith. New Hampshire VA—the Bible stays!” Pence said.