The Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center in Iron Mountain, Michigan, has a dedicated chapel open to the public 24 hours a day, but the med center has placed a curtain around the altar, cross, and statue of Jesus at the front of the room.
The center wrote on its Facebook page that the VA’s federal policy is to maintain “the chapel as religiously neutral only when chapel services are not being conducted or being used by a specific faith group.” So when a Christian group wants to use the chapel for services, the curtain can be drawn back; otherwise, the curtain must stay in place.
Here’s a question: Why is the federal government requiring VA centers to make chapels “religiously neutral”? If you visit the service academies, you will find their chapels often open to the public. The symbols in the chapels are Christian symbols; they don’t cover the stained glass windows at the Naval Academy, and they don’t veil the cross at the Air Force Academy. Regardless of whether or not worship services are going on, the altars, crosses, Bible verses, and other religious symbols are displayed proudly.
It’s true the service academies may have additional facilities available for members of other denominations or faiths, but they don’t offer dedicated facilities for every conceivable religious group.
They are free to display Christian symbols in their chapels at all times. If the service academies can do that, then surely the VA can, too.
Jerry is the founder and president of Family Council. He began Family Council in 1989 after a successful effort to amend the Arkansas Constitution to prevent the use of public funds for abortions. He and his wife reside in Little Rock. They have four sons.