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Local VA Prevents Students From Singing Religious Songs In Public Areas

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Local carolers are prevented from performing songs about Jesus. It happened earlier this week at the Veterans' Administration Hospital in downtown Augusta. Dee Griffin has the story.

Students at Alleluia Community School are out of class for the Christmas holiday. But before leaving, the students set out to give the gift of song to local Veterans. Turns out, it was a gift that couldn't be received by all.

School Principal Dan Funsch explains, "Everybody needs some peace on earth and good will to men and that's really what we were trying to do. Just spread that around a little bit."

However, it didn't go far.  Principal Dan Funsch says after arriving at the VA, he was given a list of approved songs. "Rudolph" and "Frosty" are welcome but Jesus isn't allowed in public areas. "There's a dozen on there. Things like "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas," " The 12 days of Christmas," " Frosty the Snowman," " All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth," he says.

A spokesperson for the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center sent WJBF a statement explaining, " VA policy is welcoming but respectful of all faiths and the protection of each Veterans' right to religious freedom and protection from unwelcomed religious material, to their individual beliefs."

"If you take Jesus out of Christmas you really don't have Christmas," says Funsch. He admits the group was offered an opportunity to sing in a private area. "We really didn't want to go that route. On principle we just wanted to stand on the side of the line that these religious songs are a part of our tradition."

Since the group could not share its gift of singing in public areas the students did not perform. During the season of giving, students ended up receiving a lesson on limits they may not forget.  Funsch adds, "I think we can all celebrate the different ways that we view the creator. The different ways that we relate to God."

The V-A spokesperson says the hospital regrets any inconvenience or misunderstanding that this creates.


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