Don’t subject U.S. veterans to ‘spiritual healing’

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is asking the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to change VA materials and the VA website, which currently promote “spirituality.”

FFRF makes this request to support the 23.1% of men and women in the military who identify as atheist, agnostic, or as having no religious preference.

FFRF Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott sent a letter to Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki on July 29 requesting the VA stop promoting religion and spirituality to veterans, thereby alienating nearly one-fourth of veterans.

The “Spiritual Healing and Connection” section of the VA website violates the Constitution and pushes religion and “spirituality” on veterans FFRF charges.

“Not only are they arbitrarily told that something is wrong with them, they are prescribed ‘prayer and reading scriptures’ as one remedy,” Elliott wrote.

The federal website endorses assertions from a VA chaplain that health providers should treat “mind, body and spirit” saying, “Holistic health is a three-legged stool. If one leg is missing, the stool isn’t stable.”

The website also encourages veterans to visit VA chaplains. The military has refused to accept humanist or secular chaplains.

The VA and its website imply that the nonreligious men and women serving in the military are somehow incomplete, and demonstrate the lack of resources and support available to them.

“The VA is a secular branch of a secular government and has no business interfering with the private religious views of its veterans,” Elliott wrote.

FFRF sued the Department of Veterans Affairs over its integration of spirituality into healthcare in 2006. The case was lost not in its merits but on taxpayer standing in 2008.

FFRF is a national nonprofit that works for the separation of state and church and has 19,000 members, a quarter of whom are veterans.

Click here to view the letter FFRF sent to the Secretary of the Veterans Affairs

Click here to view the “Spiritual Healing and Connection” section of the VA website

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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