ICC Note: Following a complaint, a “Merry Christmas” banner and manger scene were removed from a Texas Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital. A statement from the VA indicated that religion-related symbols could not be publicly displayed without including symbols from other faiths. Although the decorations were removed, the VA hospital has stated that they offered reimbursements for the damages.
By Todd Starnes
12/21/2015 United States (Fox News) – A manger and a banner reading “Merry Christmas” were removed from a public area of a VA hospital in Texas after someone complained about “overly religious and offensive” decorations.
“They ruined our decorations,” Vietnam veteran Ethel Holloway told television station KENS. “They threw them out.”
Holloway said she had been putting up decorations at the Audi Murphy VA Hospital for 33 years – without any problems. This year, her yuletide banner turned out to be problematic.
“They literally took pieces from the middle of a whole train set, because the middle said ‘Merry Christmas,’” helper Grace Martinez told the television station.
The South Texas Veterans Health Care System admits they removed not only Holloway’s “Merry Christmas” banner, but also a manger along with a “specific scripture decoration.”
“During the removal of a manger and specific scripture decoration, a Merry Christmas decoration was accidentally removed and damaged,” read a statement from the VA to Fox News. “The remaining decorations were removed by the decoration donor and her representatives.”
The VA hospital said they have offered to reimburse her for the damaged decorations.
“We acknowledge that the corrective action should have been to display the faith-specific holiday decoration along with multiple religious faith symbols,” the statement read. “We are currently ensuring that our staff are educated and aware of the national policy and how it relates to decorations throughout the facility.”