The Lamp

Where truth can be shared.

Judge Upholds Use of Religion in Care for Veterans

Posted by thelamp on January 18, 2007

For about a decade, the Department of Veterans Affairs has been increasing use of religion in treating ailing veterans. A federal judge has ruled that the trend does not violate what anti-religion zealots call the separation of church and state.

U.S. District Judge John Shabaz dismissed a lawsuit by the Freedom From Religion Foundation and defended the VA’s practices, saying religion can help patients heal and is legal when done on a voluntary basis. Christians have long known the healing power of prayer. It only makes sense that believers who have served in the military also want God’s help in healing their physical, mental and emotional wounds.

Shabaz’s ruling averts an unnecessary trial at taxpayers’ expense. The trial was scheduled to begin later this month.

In the lawsuit, atheists and agnostics challenged the agency’s practice of giving patients spiritual assessments that ask questions about faith, such as how often they attend church and how important religion is in their lives. Agency officials said the assessments help them determine patients’ needs.

The suit also targeted VA drug and alcohol treatment programs that incorporate religion, the integration of its chaplain program into patient care and the expansion of chaplain services for outpatient veterans instead of just those at VA hospitals. The veterans’ agency, which treated 5.3 million people at its facilities in 2005, boldly acknowledged it believes spirituality should be integrated into care. Still, the VA allows patients to decide whether that involves religion.

In its health-care system, the VA provides a wide variety of benefits to both veterans of the United States military and their families. There is nothing unconstitutional about incorporating pastoral and spiritual care into patient treatment programs. Actually, the VA chaplaincy program has a long history of legislative approval, and the practice of employing a chaplain to serve the religious needs of military veterans began as early as 1883.

“The very men who framed our government were so overtly Christian that they would drive today’s advocates of secularism out of their minds,” said Pastor Rod Parsley. “The men who wrote the First Amendment printed Bibles. They funded chaplains. They called the nation to prayer and fasting.”

Even the 21st century medical profession acknowledges the role religious faith plays in the maintenance good health, healing diseases, and coping with chronic illness or death. Furthermore, research studies have shown that when patients have access to quality spiritual care they experience significant improvement in their quality of life.

The Center for Moral Clarity supports the men and women who bravely served their nation. They deserve this quality of life.



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