A group of high school students was told they could sing about Frosty the Snowman but not the Baby Jesus at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, Ga.
Students from the Alleluia Community School were banned from singing any religious-themed Christmas carols to patients including “Silent Night,” “Joy to the World” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.”
Instead, when they arrived to perform, the students were given a list of 12 Christmas songs provided by the hospital’s pastoral service that had been “deemed appropriate for celebration within the hearing range of all veterans.”
In other words, all secular, nothing sacred, the Augusta Chronicle reported.
“Military service veterans, male and female, represent people of all faiths,” hospital spokesman Brian Rothwell said in a statement to the newspaper. “It is out of respect for every faith that The Veterans Administration gives clear guidance on what ‘spiritual care’ is to be given and who is to give it.”
Dan Funsch, the school’s principal, said this is the first year they’ve been told not to perform religious carols.
“This is not a religious proselytizing, evangelistic issue,” he told the newspaper. “The song Joy to the World is as much a part of the holiday spirit as the Christmas tree.”
The VA said their policy is meant to welcome and respect all faiths while at the same time protecting them from “unwelcomed religious material.”
Principal Funsch said his students, on principle, decided not to comply with the government-approved list of Christmas carols and they cancelled their concert.
“From our point of view, the purpose of Christmas and its carols is to celebrate and honor the birth of Jesus, and if that goal is taken from us, it is an issue we do not want to be a part of,” he told the newspaper. “We do not think it is a good idea to systemically weed out religious Christmas songs from being sung in certain places.”