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Jews On First!

... because if Jews don't speak out, they'll think we don't mind

Jewish vet tells of repeated proselytizing by VA hospital chaplains

Recorded Interview with David Akiva Miller

by Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak,, May 15, 2007

David Akiva Miller is a disabled Navy veteran and an observant Jew. When he moved to Iowa City and went for care at the Veterans Administration Hospital there, he endured repeated efforts by Protestant chaplains to evangelize him in his hospital bed. Last week, Mikey Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, held a news conference with Miller in Iowa City and declared his support for the vet -- including a lawsuit, should that become necessary.

In this recorded conversation with JewsOnFirst Co-director Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak, Miller talks about his experiences in the VA hospital and his personal journey as an adult convert to Judaism. Click here to listen to the 15-minute conversation.

Statement by David Akiva Miller

May, 2007

I was born in 1960 and I spent my early, formative years in rural Iowa. I attended Washington Township Elementary School where I wasn't permitted to touch my lunch until the entire class was seated and all heads were bowed so the teacher could lead us in a Christian prayer. Later my family moved closer to Oxford, Iowa and I attended Cosgrove Elementary for the first half of the third grade, where most of the students were given time off during the school day to attend Catechism in the next door Catholic Church and afterwards returned to the playground where, undeterred by teachers, they physically harassed those brave few who had stayed behind. My family moved to Oregon when I was 8 , and though I returned many times to visit in the years since, I was not prepared for the bigotry and intolerance that awaited me here in Iowa. Continue.

Vet: Chaplains tried to convert me
The Orthodox Jew says he was repeatedly hassled during stays at the VA center in Iowa City.

William Petroski, The Des Moines Register, May 11, 2007

U.S. 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. Continue.

A Crusade and a Holy War in the US Military

By Jason Leopold, Truthout, May 8, 2007

An Orthodox Jew and former petty officer in the US Navy said his civil rights were violated after a chaplain and officials at a Veterans Administration hospital in Iowa City, Iowa, tried to convert him to Christianity while he was under the VA's care.

David Miller, 46, who is on full disability, said in an interview that his physician at the VA hospital told him last week to go home and pray or meditate in place of using medication to relieve the pain he was experiencing from kidney stones. When Miller complained to VA staffers that his physician suggested he turn to God to treat his medical condition and refused to prescribe pain medication, VA officials provided him with a new doctor. Continue.