Within the wake of a Supreme Court docket resolution allowing a cross to stay on a public freeway, the Division of Veterans Affairs has revised its insurance policies on non secular symbols in shows at VA amenities.
VA Secretary Robert Wilkie introduced final Wednesday that the brand new insurance policies will scale back inconsistencies amongst VA amenities.
“We need to be sure that all of our Veterans and their households really feel welcome at VA, regardless of their non secular beliefs. Defending non secular liberty is a key a part of how we accomplish that aim,” he mentioned in an announcement.
“These vital adjustments will deliver simplicity and readability to our insurance policies governing non secular and non secular symbols, serving to guarantee we’re constantly complying with the First Modification to the US Structure at hundreds of amenities throughout the division.”
The revised insurance policies “enable the inclusion in applicable circumstances of spiritual content material in publicly accessible shows at VA amenities.”
Additionally they allow sufferers to request and be supplied with sacred texts, symbols and spiritual literature throughout remedy at amenities or visits to VA chapels. And so they enable the VA “to simply accept donations of spiritual literature, playing cards and symbols at its amenities and distribute them to VA patrons below applicable circumstances or to a patron who requests them.”
The announcement famous the Supreme Court docket’s June 20 resolution, by which it permitted the so-called “Peace Cross,” a World Warfare I monument in Bladensburg, Maryland, to stay in a site visitors circle. The VA mentioned the case “reaffirmed the vital function faith performs within the lives of many People and its consistency with Constitutional ideas.”
The coverage revisions, introduced July 3, come two months after a US Air Pressure veteran filed go well with towards the director of the Manchester (New Hampshire) VA Medical Middle, searching for the elimination of a Bible from a POW/MIA desk at that facility.
“As a Christian, he respects and loves all his navy brothers and sisters and doesn’t need to be exclusionary by the position of the Christian Bible,” the go well with states.
The Navy Spiritual Freedom Basis, which the go well with says acquired complaints from 14 different veterans concerning the show, decried the VA’s revamped guidelines.
“These model new VA insurance policies — clearly based mostly upon the US Supreme Court docket’s latest, idiotic resolution within the Bladensburg Cross case — are nothing greater than a clear and repugnant try and additional buttress and solidify fundamentalist Christianity because the insuperable official faith of selection for the VA, our Armed Forces, and this nation,” mentioned MRFF President Mikey Weinstein.
The MRFF has beforehand complained about related Bible shows at different places, similar to a naval hospital in Japan and a Wyoming Air Pressure base.
First Liberty Institute, a nonprofit authorized group that despatched a letter in Might to Wilkie requesting “a VA-wide coverage that allows Bibles to be included in POW/MIA remembrance shows,” applauded the VA’s revamped insurance policies.
“This new VA coverage is a welcome breath of contemporary air,” mentioned Mike Berry, director of navy affairs for First Liberty Institute, which additionally helped defend the Maryland cross monument.
“The Supreme Court docket just lately upheld the constitutionality of spiritual shows with historic roots similar to these generally present in VA amenities. We commend the VA for taking this essential and constructive motion.”