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Iron Mountain VA controversy
June 3, 2014 - Evan Reid
Here are some public comments made under an online story about the recent controversy at the Oscar J. Johnson VA Medical Center in Iron Mountain — concerning Christian icons hid behind a curtain in the hospital’s chapel:
“The hidden agenda here is not to offend Muslims.”
“Why is my religious freedom being stifled? You don’t agree with the Christian icons, don’t go in the chapel.”
“Why should my symbols and icons be covered up because of loudmouthed minorities? Get your own space if my God ‘offends’ you.”
I think it’s worth stating that “loudmouthed minorities” did not bring the curtain to the chapel. The curtain was installed after the National Chaplain Center alerted VA administration that it was not in compliance with a religious neutrality policy, most recently revised in July 2008.
It’s also worth (re)stating that the curtains are only used when the chapel is not in use by Christians. Some versions of the story downplay this, but it’s true. Any Christian who desires to use the chapel, as an individual or with a group, will be allowed to do so — with the curtain pulled back and with icons in full view.
It’s true that a majority of people in the area identify as Christian, but the VA isn’t a local entity. Policies like this are not meant to attack one religion, but to prevent the exclusion of any faith.
This is not part of a vast Marxist conspiracy to “take God out” of American culture. If that was really the goal, the chapel probably wouldn’t be there at all.
Besides, the policy in question dates to the last months of the Bush administration. I'm doubtful that W. would have allowed a Marxist agenda to infiltrate the VA.
I understand that people are upset about this situation, but it doesn’t seem to me like an assault on religious freedom. I don’t see how anyone is being prevented from practicing their faith in this chapel.
And who’s really “offended” here? The loudmouthed minorities, or the people that get upset at the idea of recognizing religious beliefs other than their own?
If the icons had been removed completely from the building, then we would have a legitimate issue on our hands.
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