Veterans in hospitals around the country will be denied holiday greetings from well-wishers because of a stance the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs took three days before Christmas, says the Liberty Institute
The institute promptly wrote a letter to the VA blasting it for its ban on cards that say "Merry Christmas" or anything religious.
In the letter, general counsel Jeff Mateer said the Texas teacher whose students wanted to cheer up wounded former military men and women in their town should be allowed to carry out her project – and Mateer gave the VA a deadline of Friday to avoid a lawsuit.
"The messages on the cards clearly are the private speech of Mrs. Chapman and her students," Mateer wrote, referring to Susan Chapman, of Grace Academy of North Texas.
On Sunday, Chapman tried to deliver the cards
and reportedly was stopped at the door.
"It is so sad that the VA is sending a message to our children that after all the veterans have done to fight for freedom across the world, the children have no freedom to say, 'Merry Christmas' to these honorable men and women," Chapman said.
Hiram Sasser, the institute's litigation director, said that "the VA is once again engaging in unlawful religious discrimination. It is shameful that the VA continues to censor religious speech in Christmas cards when the VA knows it is against the law to do so."
The institute previously sued the VA for forbidding prayer at government funerals and cemeteries. The lawsuit settled, with a federal judge ordering the agency "not to ban religious speech or words, such as 'God' and 'Jesus,' in condolence cards." That was in 2011.
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