Navy VA Hospital Accused of Pervasive Religious Bias

The Navy Times has an odd and disturbing report, Navy vet: Chaplains tried converting me:

Navy veteran David Miller said that when he checked into the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Iowa City, he didn't realize he would get a hard sell for Christian fundamentalism along with treatment for his kidney stones.

Miller, 46, an Orthodox Jew, said he was repeatedly proselytized by hospital chaplains and staff in attempts to convert him to Christianity during three hospitalizations over the past two years.

He said he went hungry each time because the hospital wouldn't serve him kosher food, and the staff refused to contact his rabbi, who could have brought him something to eat.

He described the Iowa City facility as an institution permeated by government sponsorship of fundamentalist Christianity and unconstitutional discrimination against Jews.

There have been a disturbing number of stories during this administration of religious zealotry gone wild in the Army (Lt. Gen. Boykin), Air Force (the the Air Force Academy scandal), and now the Navy version. I can't recall hearing nearly as much of this in any prior administration.

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4 Responses to Navy VA Hospital Accused of Pervasive Religious Bias

  1. Melinda says:

    Granted that they were civilians (and Canadian, for that matter), but a cousin and her husband who were living in Iowa City at the time their son was born had to send to Chicago for a mohel. Of course unlike the Navy the city of Iowa City has no responsibility for making sure that the religious needs of people living there are met.

    There’s been a lot of news about this sort of thing out of the Air Force (the academy, specifically) but I think it’s the first time I’ve heard about it in the Navy.

  2. Al says:

    First of all – this is either a Navy Hospital or a VA Hospital — one or the other. They are two TOTALLY different departments…Veterans Affairs and/or Defense.

    People made the same mistake with Walter Reed…a DoD entity, not run by the VA!

    In this case it appears to have been a VA hospital.

    Either way, nobody is responsible for providing a moyel or Rabbi if one is not readily available. Religious dietary needs are a personal responsibility not an entitlement. If you book a flight and prefer a Kosher meal – you order one…or bring your own. If this patient wanted to contact his Rabbi – and was not supported by the nursing staff – was he actually unable to use the phone himself?

    Finally – this gentleman was hospitalized three times! At what point does personal responsibility take over? Are we to believe he was actually hungry during the second and third time he was hospitalized…knowing full wel that kosher meals would not be available?

    To show you my heart is in the right place – I’m Jewish – but I don’t live in a world based on entitlement. I believe my stay in the hospital should not be met with attempts to convert me to another religion, but if I claim it was – I should be credible and not undermine my contentions by trying to bolster my assertion with a bunch a bologna — which granted isn’t kosher!

  3. fiat lux says:

    Wow, that’s stomach-churning news.

  4. Joe says:

    Uhh, Melinda, there is a sizable Jewish community throughout the state of Iowa. I grew up in Iowa, I know how to find the Jewish community (start with the yellow pages). The VA Medical center is in Iowa City because it utilizes the resources of the University of Iowa hospital, the largest teaching hospital in the state. I think that there is a synangogue in Cedar Rapids, twenty miles up the road. Having said all of that, it doesn’t surprise me that this happened.

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