Group asks VA medical center to lift ban on religious Christmas carols in public areas

Group asks VA medical center to lift ban on religious Christmas carols in public areas

AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - After the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta recently banned Christmas carolers from singing religious songs in its public patient areas, a legal organization that defends people's rights to express their faith is stepping up.

Alliance Defending Freedom sent a letter Monday to the federally-run veterans hospital asking the facility to rescind its policy against religious songs in public areas.

Administrators at the facility told students from Augusta's Alleluia Community School this year that they had to sing non-religious songs if they wanted to perform in the public areas of the facility, according to a press release from Alliance Defending Freedom.

Officials at Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center said the new policy protects veterans "from unwelcomed religious material."

But the letter sent by the Alliance Defending Freedom says "permitting religious Christmas carols to be sung at public facilities like the medical center fully complies with the First Amendment."

"The medical center's policy appears to be nothing more than political correctness run amok, and we thus urge you to immediately rescind the new policy instituted by the medical center's administration," the letter reads.

The students were allowed to sing religious carols at the hospital in 2011 and 2012, according to the Alliance for Freedom. This year, when the students arrived, officials provided them with a pre-approved list of 12 non-religious Christmas songs that could be sung in public areas. Officials told the students any other carols would have to be sung in the hospital's chapel.

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