Friday, May 18, 2007

Shabbat Shalom 1 Sivan 5767

Navy Veteran Pressured to Convert
Christianity the only accepted religion in Iowa VA Hospital

Navy veteran David Miller has served his country with honor and dignity, but being an Orthodox Jew made his experience with a Veterans Medical Center in Iowa City a tragedy. When he entered the hospital for kidney stones, he expected to be treated for his ailment. What he got was conversion tactics by Christian fundamentalist chaplains.

According to a story in the Des Moines Register, clergy at the VA hospital denied Miller his religious freedoms because he refused to accept Jesus Christ after being bombarded with conversion tactics by fundamentalist chaplains. Efforts to convert the 48 year old went as far as refusing to serve him available kosher food or contact a Rabbi who could have brought him appropriate meals. Miller often went hungry during his hospital stays.

As a federally funded institution, it can easily be construed that the government is endorsing Christianity. According to Miller the staff treated you with an attitude that you either accept Christ or you were damned. Not exactly a quality one wants from a health care worker.

Miller is not advocating getting rid of the chaplain corps. “When I was in the Navy, I was a religious program specialist," the Navy veteran said. "I worked with Christian chaplains, and I believe in the value of the chaplain corps, but not using it to bludgeon people, for heaven’s sake.”
Miller did complain to hospital officials. However they would not investigate the matter and simply told him to object more strenuously to terminate such proselytizing.

Obviously the treatment Miller received in Iowa is the exception not the rule. Nevertheless, the fact that even one incident occurred and the patients complaints were wiped under the rug, is simply unacceptable. Those involved should be fired and brought up on charges of civil rights violations.

Veterans Affairs Medical Center spokesman Kirt Sickels said, "We will look into these concerns that Mr. Miller is talking about. The Iowa City VA respects the rights to religious beliefs for every patient. If they have a request for any kind of religious needs, we try to accommodate whatever those needs or beliefs might be.”

We shall see if any action is taken to remedy the situation and to dismiss those involved in violating a veterans religious freedom. What we do know for certain is that the Chaplain and staff that denied a hungry person food and took it upon themselves to sit in judgement of their fellow man, have committed great sins against God. Does evil lurk in their heart? Only God knows and he will be the ultimate judge.

HMMMM, it's getting warm in here.


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