VA overhauls religious and spiritual symbol policies to protect religious liberty


The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently revised its directives permitting religious literature, symbols and displays at VA facilities to protect religious liberty for Veterans and families while ensuring inclusivity and nondiscrimination.

The move aims to simplify and clarify the department’s policies governing religious symbols, and spiritual and pastoral care, which have been interpreted inconsistently at various VA facilities in recent years, resulting in unfortunate incidents that interrupted certain displays.

Effective July 3, these changes will help ensure that patrons within VA have access to religious literature and symbols at chapels as requested and protect representations of faith in publicly accessible displays at facilities throughout the department.

“We want to make sure that all of our Veterans and their families feel welcome at VA, no matter their religious beliefs. Protecting religious liberty is a key part of how we accomplish that goal,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “These important changes will bring simplicity and clarity to our policies governing religious and spiritual symbols, helping ensure we are consistently complying with the First Amendment to the U.S.Constitution at thousands of facilities across the department.”

The new policies will:

  • Allow the inclusion in appropriate circumstances of religious content in publicly accessible displays at VA facilities.
  • Allow patients and their guests to request and be provided religious literature, symbols and sacred texts during visits to VA chapels and during their treatment at VA.
  • Allow VA to accept donations of religious literature, cards and symbols at its facilities and distribute them to VA patrons under appropriate circumstances or to a patron who requests them.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently reaffirmed the important role religion plays in the lives of many Americans and its consistency with Constitutional principles. This includes the following values: a display that follows in the longstanding tradition of monuments, symbols and practices; respect and tolerance of differing views; and endeavors to achieve inclusivity and nondiscrimination.


Media Relations

The Office of Media Relations serves as the interface with news media representatives from newspapers and electronic media for the Department. OMR arranges interviews, provides press releases and answers media queries.


  1. Gistie    

    Wow. Nice development. Love this.

  2. chinex john    

    Greatest one coming from the USA.. Freedom of religion

    1. Victor    

      So far there is freedome of religion

  3. Hitonhits    

    Tanks to the US Supreme Court

  4. Jack Armstrong    

    It breaks my heart to think that I wouldn’t be able to practice my faith openly and without fear this is one of many freedoms we have that we all fought for. Once you have this faith nothing can take it away. We might lose a few battles but in the end GOD Will Win The War!

  5. Anonymous    

    In Florida, an atheist became incensed over the preparation for Easter and Passover holidays and decided to contact the local ACLU about the discrimination inflicted on atheists by the constant celebrations afforded to Christians and Jews with all their holidays while the atheists had no holiday to celebrate.

    The ACLU jumped on the opportunity to once again pick up the cause of the godless and assigned their sharpest attorneys to the case. The case was brought before a wise judge who after listening to the long, passionate presentation of the ACLU lawyers, promptly banged his gavel and declared, “Case dismissed!”

    The lead ACLU lawyer immediately stood and objected to the ruling and said, “Your honor, how can you possibly dismiss this case? Surely the Christians have Christmas, Easter and many other observances. And the Jews — why in addition to Passover they have Yom Kippur and Hanukkah . . . and yet my client and all other atheists have no such holiday!”

    The judge leaned forward in his chair and simply said “Obviously your client is too confused to know about, or for that matter, even celebrate the atheists’ holiday!”

    The ACLU lawyer pompously said: “We are aware of no such holiday for atheists. Just when might that be, Your Honor?”

    The judge said, “Well, it comes every year on exactly the same date — April 1st!”

    The fool says in his heart there is no God… therefore your day is given as Apil “the fools day”…

    Case dismissed..

  6. Brian    

    I look forward to the displays honoring faiths that are as varied as the veterans served by the VHA. There will probably be one or more displays every day of the year! Imagine the teaching opportunities these displays could present! (Yes, I’m entirely serious; we should neither be fearful nor hateful of those who worship differently than us)

    Mami Wata
    and others!

    1. Debra Youmans    

      One of the 3 main religions in the world, and you left
      Christianity to be in “ and others”.

    2. Chad Childers    

      Brian I’m definitely not fearful or have any kind of discrimination against any religious faith. I am definitely respectful of everybody’s freedom of religion. I agree with you! In God We Trust

  7. Preston Wilson    

    Well, here we go again. Another solution in search of a problem.

    1. Bill Lyons    

      What happens in the Chapel should stay in the Chapel!
      Keep your religion out of the common areas of the hospital. I don’t have any problems with keeping my opinion in check as long as I don’t have anyone else pushing their own beliefs in my face.
      Your celebration might not be as well received by someone else. Sorry if you are afraid that you might be restricted to your own place to practice what you believe in but it is only fair if it is fair for all!

  8. Donald Lee Martin    

    This is a horror, an abomination. We fought to be free of this crap. It has no place in public facilities, let alone at VA clinics. Religious liberty does not entail proselytizing in public places; that is religious discrimination. I and my comrades have constitutional rights to be free of it. We fought to defend those rights which you now take from us with the stroke of a pen. You should be deeply ashamed.

  9. Jack Dankof    

    Why does the VA continuously act as if Atheists don’t exist. After all, I was an Atheist when I servex. Where are our protections? And please remember, the Supreme Court also ruled that slavery was okay too.

  10. Danny Gibas    

    Will be taking this up with my representatives. This is an illegal violation of separation of church and state and I will fight it tooth and nail.

  11. loaded mp3    

    Yes I agree with you

  12. Fly Navy    

    Great news. Freedom of religion not freedom from being offended.

  13. Brien Doyle    

    A government group!

    Keep ALL religions out!!

  14. John m Macardy    

    Great For US, Finally veterans will get a new dimension with this Revision. our family is no more torched with religious discrimination

    1. Rogger s    

      Yes that was needed , Veterans and their families Must be Welcomed at VA Welfare

      1. Jessy naija    

        Pure fact. It is something that shouldn’t be neglected st all

    2. daniel    

      discrimination? how is it discrimination when the govt is supposed yo remain neutral? let me guess, you want just your religion pushed on others?

Comments are closed.