VA hospital orders Christian symbols to be covered inside its chapel

Our Saviour's Lutheran Church Facebook
A curtain surrounds an altar, crucifix, and statues of Jesus and Mary at the Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center in Iron Mountain, Michigan.

A Veterans Affairs hospital in Michigan was told last month to cover up all Christian symbols inside of its chapel.

The Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center was found in non-compliance with a 2008 federal regulation that mandates that the house of worship be nonsectarian.

"The chapel must be maintained as religiously neutral, reflecting no particular faith tradition," the policy states.

Statues of Jesus and Mary, an altar, and a crucifix were encircled with a curtain at the Iron Mountain chapel after an inspection by the National Chaplain Center discovered the unauthorized items. The chapel's stained glass windows have not yet been replaced, and are also covered by a curtain.

Our Saviour's Lutheran Church pastor Richard Riley said the move is just one example of an anti-Christian movement taking place in the country.

"Christianity, not only globally, but particularly in the United States, is really under attack," he told Fox News.

"Christianity is coming under some horrendous conflict from the media and to some degree from our own government."

Riley also said that having a Christian chapel is constitutionally protected.

"Christians have constitutional rights. We have a right to voice our opinion. Just because you are a Christian doesn't mean you lose your First Amendment rights," he insisted.

Rapid City Journal Black Hills Health Care System Director Stephen R. DiStasio said that the concealment of religious symbols does not detract from the purpose of the chapel.

"Their key purpose is to provide a designated space for a religious service at the request of the veteran and their family, a space for personal reflection and a space for community services," he said in a statement.

"This plan necessitates some changes in the appearance of the chapels, but it continues to support our ability to meet the spiritual needs of veterans and others."

The Department of Veterans Affairs is currently embroiled in a scandal regarding substandard quality of care, paperwork falsifications, and patient deaths.

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