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Advocates Allege Religious Discrimination At VA Hospital

Jeffrey Beall, flickr Creative Commons

This story originally aired June 24, 2015, during All Things Considered.

A religious liberty group says members of a Native American sweat lodge at a VA medical center in Wichita have been subjected to discrimination aimed at shutting down their religious services.

The Liberty Institute sent a letter Wednesday to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs concerning the Robert J. Dole Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Among the group's concerns is the recent suspension of the sweat lodge's spiritual leader, who is a substance-abuse counselor at the center. The group alleges his suspension came in retaliation for his advocacy work for the sweat lodge, and that his absence has effectively shut down the religious services.

The medical center released a statement that didn't address the specific allegations, but says the center prioritizes supporting the religious practices of its staff, volunteers and veterans.