Fact Check: Mike Pence Never Said 'Obama Ordered' VA to Suppress Bibles, Carols

August 29th, 2019 3:56 PM

The leftist video site Raw Story attacked Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday with a story headlined "Pence hypes false conspiracy theory that Obama ordered Christianity out of VA hospitals."

Fact check: In his speech at the American Legion convention in Indianapolis, Pence didn't say "Obama ordered" a crackdown on Christian materials. Raw Story editor David Edwards reported the actual Pence quote: 

“It’s really no surprise,” Pence continued. “Because under the last administration, VA hospitals were removing Bibles and even banning Christmas carols in an effort to be politically correct.”

“But let me be clear,” the vice president added. “Under this administration, VA hospitals will not be religion free zones.”

Anything that happens under the Trump administration is blamed on them. (See deaths of sick children in ICE custody.) But it's a "false conspiracy theory" when the Obama-era VA cracks down on the Christian stuff. 

Were overtly religious Christmas carols banned? Yes. Todd Starnes at Fox News reported in 2013: 

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.”

...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.”

Were Bibles removed? Yes. In 2016, Joel Gehrke at the Washington Examiner reported: 

Department of Veterans Affairs officials removed Bibles from memorials in three VA clinics dedicated to Vietnam veterans who were taken prisoner or went missing in action, a move that is prompting a protest from congressional Republicans.

"The Establishment Clause does not require that you remove Bibles from the Missing Man Table displays," Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford and Virginia Rep. Randy Forbes wrote in a letter to VA Secretary Robert McDonald. "The mere presence of a Bible coerces no one."

Team Obama seemed more sensitive to the Christian bashers at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), which staunchly opposes any expression of religion in the armed forces (especially from the Jesus people). Pence referred to a lawsuit to remove a Bible that was carried in World War II from a Manchester, New Hampshire VA facility. The VA removed the Bible in January under MRFF pressure, but then put it back a month later.