Press Release

Veteran’s hospital bans holiday cheer *facepalm*

Media Contact

Ryan Colby 202-349-7219

Additional Information

WASHINGTON, DC Heroic veterans and their families are apparently too sensitive to hear the words “Merry Christmas,” at least according to the bureaucrats at a Veterans Administration hospital in Salem, Virginia. The government hospital banned Christmas greetings, “religious” carols, and Christmas trees from all public areas. For that, the hospital leaders earn this year’s Ebenezer Award — Becket’s lowest (dis)honor, awarded for the most ridiculous affront to the Christmas and Hanukah season. (The hospital beat out a number of other strong contenders.)

“Our veterans stare down the most hostile threats to freedom the world has ever known. But I’m pretty sure the words ‘Merry Christmas’ is not one of them,” said Kristina Arriaga, Executive Director of Becket. “Hospital leaders should have a Christmas cookie and lighten up; a little Christmas cheer never hurt anyone.”

After resistance from hospital employees, the management of the Veterans Administration Medical Center caved on the Christmas tree ban — saying that trees are allowed as long they are accompanied by a Menorah for Hanukkah and a Mkeka for Kwanzaa. Good for them. But hospital employees are still banned from wishing veterans a “Merry Christmas” or playing “religious” Christmas music—even in their own personal work space. Other VA hospitals in the past have reportedly banned wrapping paper that said “Merry Christmas,” rejected “Christmas” cards from local schoolchildren, and ordered carolers to sing only government-approved secular songs.

“I like ‘Jingle Bells’ as much as the next person, but the government can’t ban ‘religious’ Christmas carols any more than it can ban ugly sweaters or eggnog,” said Arriaga

On that note, we salute with an eggnog toast the employees of the VA Medical Center that resisted the Christmas tree ban. We wish them and our veterans around the country a very Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukah, and a Happy New Year! In the words of Tiny Tim: “God bless us, every one!”

For more information or to arrange an interview with a Becket  attorney, please contact Melinda  Skea  at  or 202.349.7224.  Interviews can be arranged in English, Chinese, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.


The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty is a non-profit, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions. For over 20 years, it has defended clients of all faiths, including  Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Native Americans, Sikhs, and  Zoroastrians.  Its  recent cases include three major Supreme Court victories: the landmark ruling in  Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, and the 9-0 rulings in  Holt v. Hobbs  and  Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC, the latter of which The Wall Street Journal called one of “the most important religious liberty cases in a half century.”