Those who thought the New Year's Truce would hold will be disappointed to hear that the War on The War on Christmas has resumed with a massive barrage fired by Rep. Jeff Miller, Republican chair of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee, who has written to Veterans Administration head Eric Shinseki, demanding an investigation into allegations that personnel in VA hospitals in Georgia, Iowa, Alabama and Texas dissed the One True Birthday of Jesus.
The allegations (attributions not offered by the congressman) include instances of patients being denied gifts wrapped in paper emblazoned with the slogan "Merry Christmas" and handmade cards from children wishing God's blessings on recovering patients.
Source: FOX News, and others.
While independent confirmation of the accusations wasn't offered, the principle of religious freedom cited by Rep. Miller is valid.
“Christmas is a federal holiday and VA is a federal entity".Indeed. That is why I join with Rep. Miller and demand that the VA and all other federal agencies close today, Christmas Day.
What? Today isn't Christmas? Of course it is. It's January 7th, celebrated by millions of Eastern Orthodox Christians as the true birth date of Jesus.
It is particularly ironic that one of the instances cited by Rep. Miller occurred in a state called "Georgia." There is, of course, another state with that name, formerly a Republic in the USSR, where Eastern Orthodox Christianity is the majority religion and today is Christmas Day.
Oh, that's right. To many believers, Orthodox Christianity is a "false" interpretation. Only the sects derived from Western (Catholic) traditions are true. It would be terrible to have our government endorse the wrong religion.
But religions, their validity or lack thereof, are matters of personal belief and faith, not objective fact or public policy derived therefrom.
Perhaps these controversies could be avoided if only we had some way of separating the interests of faith and governance, of church and state, so that one person's or group's religious beliefs were prevented from dominating others', at least in areas and offices administered by the federal government.
I know it sounds audacious, but such a principle of separation is so important for the fair and efficient exercise of secular governmental power that I believe it would be wise to enshrine it in an amendment to our Constitution.
This idea may seem radical to some, but it seems to me the only way to settle these deep-rooted disputes of faith, at least as far as they impinge on the actions of government.